Scotland exile Finn Russell proves his worth to French paymasters
TOP 14 SATURDAY WRAP: Spurned by Scotland he may be, but Finn Russell again proved his worth to his French paymasters by kicking Racing 92 past Brive in the Top 14 on Saturday.
The 30-year-old was omitted last week from the squad named by Gregor Townsend, a former Scotland No.10, for all of their upcoming internationals against Australia on Saturday, Fiji, New Zealand and Argentina.
Townsend went on to insist that the “door is not closed on any player”, Russell merely saying his omission was a “good thing”.
And the Scottish playmaker again produced the goods, converting tries by halfback partner Nolann Le Garrec, Maxime Baudonne, Max Spring and Antoine Gibert and also booting five penalties for a personal haul of 23 points in the 43-38 victory.
The result saw struggling Brive grab a bonus point, but fall to bottom place in the table after Perpignan pulled off a 28-21 victory over Lyon.
“We’re very happy, we wanted to get into the top six,” said Racing coach Didier Casadei.
“We haven’t won an away game since the start of the season and we’re chuffed to have got one under the belt.”
Runaway league leaders Toulouse fell to a shock 22-26 defeat at Bayonne, for whom Gaetan Germain scored 21 points in front of a home crowd of more than 13,500 spectators.
Toulouse fielded a side weakened by the absence of eight France internationals including Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack and a handful of injuries to key players such as Rynhardt Elstadt, Pita Ahki and Francois Cros.
Castres eeked out a 26-22 home win over Clermont, while Pau inflicted a 38-21 defeat on La Rochelle, the reigning European champions.
“Congratulations to Pau, the best team won, they deserved their victory,” said a “frustrated” La Rochelle coach Ronan O’Gara.
“When you lack humility, you pay the price, We were humiliated today, but that’s the law of rugby.
“We have lots of work ahead of us. It’s a big hit and we must react and quickly. We can’t accept that type of game before our fans.”
O’Gara added:” The answer is pretty easy at the end of the day: look at ourselves in the mirror and understand the word ‘humility’.”
Montpellier registered a welcome 23-19 victory over Stade Francais after four straight losses.
Bordeaux-Begles take on Toulon in Sunday’s game.
Collated French Top 14 results on Saturday:
Bayonne 26-22 Toulouse
Brive 38-43 Racing92
Castres 26-22 Clermont
La Rochelle 21-38 Pau
Montpellier 23-19 Stade Francais
Perpignan 28-21 Lyon
Bordeaux-Begles v Toulon