Russell brilliance helps Racing dismiss Sharks
REPORT: Finn Russell scored a superb solo effort and set up another for Teddy Thomas as Racing 92 beat Sale Sharks 41-22 on Sunday to book their place in the European Cup semifinals.
The Parisians will host fellow French club La Rochelle in Lens next Sunday due to a rap concert at their La Defense Arena home.
Scotland flyhalf Russell’s second-half contributions came after Racing trailed at the break.
In the other semi record-five time winners Toulouse will head back to Dublin to face Leinster after beating Munster on Saturday in a penalty shoot-out.
The four-time winners eased past Leicester Tigers 23-14 earlier on Saturday.
“It obviously was all on purpose,” Russell jokingly told reporters about his try.
“I know what the bounce is like in the Arena.
“It was a bit of luck but I’m happy to take that as a try and it takes us into the semi-final,” he added.
CHAMPIONS CUP semifinals
(Kick-offs local time)
Saturday, May 14
Leinster v Stade Toulousain, Dublin (15.00; 14.00 GMT)
Sunday, May 15
Racing 92 v Stade Rochelais, Lens (16.00; 14.00 GMT)
Champions Cup Final: Saturday, May 28; Marseille (17.45)
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 8, 2022
* Meanwhile, On the indoor artificial surface in front of just 9,356 spectators, neither side managed to control the game inside the opening quarter as France Under-20 scrumhalf Nolan Le Garrec kicked two penalties after Robert du Preez missed with an effort.
After half an hour the Sharks’ South Africa scrumhalf Francois de Klerk came closest to crossing for a try but the World Cup winner knocked on while attempting to ground his pick and go from short range.
De Klerk was then involved in the opening touchdown as his fumbled pass was gathered by England centre Manu Tuilagi 15 metres out with the clock in the red.
Tuilagi then found space to canter under the posts unopposed and Du Preez’s conversion made it 10-6 at the break, with the English side 40 minutes away from a first win in France since December 2012.
Racing returned onto the pitch from the interval first and reacted quickly to take control of the tie with two sublime tries to take the score to 23-10 after just nine minutes of the second half.
Thomas gathered Russell’s grubber before kicking the ball again to score in one movement.
The former Glasgow Warriors playmaker then outdid Thomas to dive over after two volleys, with lucky bounces, which started in his own half.
The visitors responded swiftly to the two quick scores and after a succession of pick and goes, Springbok hooker Armand van der Merwe bundled over.
With Du Preez’s conversion, it was a seven-point game with 25 minutes to go before Le Garrec made it 29-17 with two penalties with less than a quarter of an hour left to make sure of the result.
With Racing’s place in the last four almost secured Pumas wing Juan Imhoff scored to celebrate his new contract in the French capital before Ben Curry, a second-half replacement for his twin brother, Tom, claimed a consolation effort for Sale.
Young fullback Max Spring then cruised over for the hosts’ fourth try in additional time.
For Racing 92
Tries: Thomas, Russell, Imhoff, Spring
Cons: Le Garrec 2, Machenaud
Pens: Le Garrec 5
For Sale Sharks
Tries: Tuilagi, Van der Merwe, B Curry
Cons: R du Preez 2
Pen: R du Preez
Yellow card: AJ MacGinty (Sale Sharks, 77 – abusive language towards match officials)
Racing 92: 15 Max Spring, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Henry Chavancy (captain), 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Nolann Le Garrec, 8 Yoan Tanga, 7 Ibrahim Diallo, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Hassane Kolinga.
Replacements: 16 Teddy Baubigny, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Bernard Le Roux, 20 Baptiste Pesenti, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Antoine Gibert, 23 Virimi Vakatawa.
Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Robert du Preez, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Simon Hammersley, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rod.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Sam James, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)