La Rochelle bag home semi-final

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 21:27
Large edinburgh v la rochelle matc action 800

EURO CHALLENGE CUP REPORT: La Rochelle are still on for a possible Challenge Cup and Top 14 double, after making it 13 wins in a row in all competitions.

It is also seven on the bounce on the road, after they scored a 32-22 win at Murrayfield.

Six weeks out from the European Final weekend in the Scottish capital the French side bagged themselves a home semifinal against either Gloucester or Cardiff Blues and must now fancy their chances of returning to the home of Scottish rugby on Friday, May 12.

They came into the game with a huge lead in the TOP 14 and brim full of confidence. They soaked up the first few minutes of home pressure before exploding into action via their driving line-out.

Twice in the space of six minutes hooker Jeremie Maurouard was propelled over the Edinburgh line and Brock James, who started the game when Zach Holmes pulled up lame in the warm-up, converted both to make it 14 points in as many minutes.

Edinburgh were all at sea in the opening quarter, but they managed to settle the ship with a great try on the wide outside by centre Phil Burleigh which Jason Tovey converted. That got them a toe-hold in the game, but La Rochelle hit back almost straight away.

French back row star Kevin Gourdon tied in two defenders and when teenage scrum half Arthur Retiere picked up five metres in from touch with 60 metres in front of him it didn't look as though there was another try in the offing.

But the France Under 20 international raced away from the first line of defence, bamboozled Blair Kinghorn on the Edinburgh 22 and then sped way to the corner.

It was a sensational score and later in the half he made the break that led to a try at the posts for wing Steeve Barry to create a 19 point gap. The next score was vital for Edinburgh and on the stroke of half-time the veteran Ross Ford crashed over in the corner after a front of the line peel to make it 26-12 at the break.

There were obviously some strong words in the Edinburgh dressing room at half-time because they came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half and grabbed the next score with a try from Heineken Man of the Match Hamish Watson. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne added the conversion and suddenly it was anyone's game.

The gap was cut to a single score on 65 minutes when replacement prop Lekso Kaulashvili picked up a yellow card and Duncan Hodge kicked the penalty. Now it was the home side who had their tails up, but they still lacked the accuracy needed to make La Rochelle pay.

In the end, two penalties from the experienced James saw La Rochelle home and put them into their first European semi-final. The Challenge Cup went to Montpellier last year - will it stay in France for another season?

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Tries: 
Burleigh, Ford, Watson
Cons: Tovey, Hidalgo-Clyne
Pen: Weir

For La Rochelle:
Tries:
Maurouard 2, Retiere, Barry
Cons: James 3
Pen: James 2

Yellow card: Lekso Kaulashvili (La Rochelle, 64 - foul play, early tackle)

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Viliame Mata, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Ross Ford (captain), 1 Murray McCallum.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Kyle Whyte, 18 Kevin Bryce, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Viliami Fihaki, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Glenn Bryce.

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Steeve Barry, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Eliott Roudil, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Arthur Retière, 8 Kévin Gourdon, 7 Levani Botia, 6 Romain Sazy, 5 Mathieu Tanguy, 4 Jason Eaton (captain), 3 Mohamed Boughanmi, 2 Jérémie Maurouard, 1 Mike Corbel.
Replacements: 16 Hikairo Forbes, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Lekso Kaulashvili, 19 Jone Qovu, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Alexi Bales, 22 Brock James, 23 Benjamin Noble.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Ian Tempest (England), Simon McConnell (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 6 5 0 1 24
Glasgow Warriors 6 4 0 2 19
Leicester Tigers 6 2 0 4 8
Racing Metro 6 1 0 5 5
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 6 4 1 1 22
Toulouse 6 3 2 1 18
Connacht 6 4 0 2 18
Zebre 6 0 0 6 0
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 6 5 1 0 24
Toulon 6 3 0 3 16
Scarlets 6 2 1 3 11
Sale Sharks 6 1 0 5 4
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 6 4 1 1 23
Montpellier 6 3 0 3 16
Castres 6 2 1 3 12
Northampton Saints 6 2 0 4 9
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 6 5 0 1 26
Bordeaux 6 3 0 3 14
Exeter Chiefs 6 2 0 4 12
Ulster 6 2 0 4 10