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La Rochelle and Bristol Bears set to renew pool stage rivalry

Friday 29th March 2019

5:04 pm (GMT)

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La Rochelle and Bristol Bears set to renew pool stage rivalry

Bristol Bears utility-back Luke Daniels

Pool 4 rivals take each other on again in a European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final on Sunday with La Rochelle and Bristol Bears trading victories in the pool stages. 

The French side will have home advantage having topped Pool 4 but Bristol did defeat La Rochelle 13-3 at Stade Marcel Deflandre in Round 4. You can watch live from 18:00 BST on BT Sport, FR4 and beIN SPORTS. 

Pool positions 

La Rochelle: 1st, Pool 4, 24 points 

Bristol Bears: 2nd, Pool 4, 21 points 

Head-to-head record 

La Rochelle wins: 3 

Draw: 1  

Bristol Bears wins: 2 

2018/19 points-scorers 

La Rochelle: Maxime Lafage (49), Ihaia West (36), Gregory Alldritt, Paul Jordaan and Romaric Camou (all 15) 

Bristol Bears: Callum Sheedy (55), Andy Uren and Tom Pincus (both 30) 

Key quotes 

Jono Gibbes (La Rochelle): “Bristol Bears have a different game to what we see in the TOP 14. It is going to be a big challenge.” 

Pat Lam (Bristol): “This is genuine knockout rugby and – as with every game for the remainder of the season – it’s a massive game and we need a finals rugby mindset.” 

Team news 

  • Jean-Victor Goillot, 21, starts at scrum-half for La Rochelle with Tawera Kerr Barlow injured, but Victor Vito returns at No.8 to captain the French team.
  • Tusi Pisi returns for Bristol at centre for his first outing since January, while lock Aly Muldowney is back after a knee injury. 

Match stats 

  • This will be the seventh meeting between La Rochelle and Bristol Bears. They met in the pool stage this season with both teams picking up away wins.
  • This is the third time La Rochelle have reached the quarter-finals, losing at home to Clermont in 2011 and winning an away match against Edinburgh in 2017.
  • Bristol have reached the knockout stage for the fourth time and the first time in over 10 years, losing to Bath in 2007 and Sale in 2002, but beating Biarritz in 1999/2000.
  • La Rochelle were the only side to register a 100% record at scrum time in the pool stage, winning 36/36 on their own put-in.
  • Bristol averaged more carries (151) and breaks (19) per game than any other side in the pool stage this season, however, they did have the lowest goalkicking success rate of any side (60%).
  • Bristol’s Tom Pincus (476) was the leading metre maker in the pool stage in addition to scoring 6 tries.
  • Callum Sheedy of Bristol scored 55 points in the pool stage with only Zebre’s Carlo Canna (59) scoring more. Sheedy also contributed a competition-high eight try assists.
  • Only Clermont’s Apisai Naqalevu (27) beat more defenders than La Rochelle’s Romaric Camou (25) during the pool stage. 

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La Rochelle into Challenge Cup semi-finals after dominant victory

Sunday 31st March 2019

3:00 pm (GMT)

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La Rochelle into Challenge Cup semi-finals after dominant victory

La Rochelle’s Vincent Rattez on his way to scoring a try

La Rochelle scored five tries as they blitzed Bristol Bears 39-15 at Stade Marcel Deflandre to reach the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-finals.

The hosts made an excellent start, winning a penalty in kicking range at the breakdown. Ihaia West stepped up and slotted the ball between the posts to a cheer from the home crowd.

La Rochelle then launched a terrific driving maul, making 20 metres and eventually collapsing over the try line, where Gregory Alldritt touched down.

Bristol Bears fly-half Ian Madigan hit back with a penalty, but the visitors fell further behind on 20 minutes. After La Rochelle were denied a try by the TMO, from the resulting scrum the home pack forced Bristol back towards their own try line and gave referee John Lacey no choice but to award the penalty try.

Man of the match Vincent Rattez then lit up the match and put the hosts into a commanding 29-10 half-time lead. Twice he found gaps in the Bristol line, jinking past defenders before passing to Geoffrey Doumayrou and Wiaan Liebenber respectively for tries in the 26th and 40th minutes respectively.

Steven Luatua – after the TMO was consulted – did grab a try for the visitors between the pair of La Rochelle scores, but that was as good as it got for Bristol in the first half.

The second half was a quieter affair, with a try apiece from Rattez and Piers O’Conor, plus a penalty from West meaning that La Rochelle cruised into the last four of the Challenge Cup for the second time.

They will host Sale Sharks at Stade Marcel Deflandre on the weekend of 19/20/21 April in the last four.

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