Racing too good for Scarlets
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Racing 92 have secured a home quarterfinal after last season’s finalists topped Pool Four with an entertaining victory over Scarlets, defeating the Welsh region 46-33 at Paris La Defense Arena.
The Parisians’ bonus-point win ensured they qualify for the last eight as No.2 seeds, while Ulster also qualify from the group.
Dan Jones’ early penalty put Scarlets ahead but it did not take long for the hosts to flow into action with Finn Russell, again at the centre of all things good for Racing, delivering a perfect grubber kick in behind for Juan Imhoff to score in the corner. Maxime Machenaud, who was on kicking duties, hit the post with his conversion attempt.
However, Scarlets responded moments later with Steff Evans storming down the left-hand wing to dot down in the corner. Dan Jones added the extra couple of points from out wide.
Then, club legend Henry Chavancy powered over on his 276th appearance for the French outfit to reduce the deficit. Machenaud made his conversion.
Flyhalves Machenaud and Jones exchanged penalties – and the lead – before the break but it was the visitors that went into half-time 16-15 ahead.
The second half continued the back-and-forth theme with Johnny McNicholl and Simon Zebo trading tries – both converted by Jones and Machenaud respectively – with Jones adding another penalty to Scarlets’ total.
Despite Scarlets’ best efforts, Fijian Virimi Vakatawa and Teddy Iribaren added Racing’s third and fourth try of the game to regain and extend their lead.
Ireland international Zebo scored his second try after collecting Finn Russell’s crossfield kick but Scarlets continued to cause Racing’s defence problems with Johnny McNicholl crossing over the tryline after starting and finishing a counter-attack which took Scarlets the length of the pitch.
Replacement scrumhalf Iribaren concluded proceedings with a successful penalty kick to a loud roar from the home crowd.
For Racing 92:
Tries: Imhoff, Chavancy, Zebo 2, Vakatawa, Iribaren
Cons: Machenaud 3, Russell 2
Pens: Machenaud, Iribaren
Tries: S Evans, McNicholl 2
Cons: D Jones 2, Hidalgo-Clyne
Pens: D Jones 4
Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Simon Zebo, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Boris Palu, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski (captain), 1 Guram Gogichashvili.
Replacements: 16 Teddy Baubigny, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Georges Henri Colombe, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Fabien Sanconnie, 21 Teddy Iribaren, 22 Olivier Klemenczak, 23 Ben Volavola.
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Jonathan Davies (captain), 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Joshua Macleod, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Ed Kennedy, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Joshua Helps, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Tom Price, 20 Dafydd Hughes, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Steff Hughes, 23 Paul Asquith.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), Nigel Correll (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)