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2018 Champions Cup quarter-finalists La Rochelle can take a giant leap towards the Challenge Cup knockout stages if they can defeat Zebre Rugby Club on Friday night.
- This will be the third meeting between La Rochelle and Zebre after they clashed in the pool stage in 2915/16.
- La Rochelle have won six of their last seven pool stage home games in the Challenge Cup.
- Zebre have won each of their last three games, their best ever run in the Challenge Cup.
- La Rochelle have averaged 20 clean breaks and 17 offloads per game this season, more than any other team in each category.
🚨 PLUS QUE TROIS JOURS ! 🚨
— Challenge Cup France (@ChallengeCup_FR) January 8, 2019
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La Rochelle put one foot in the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Friday night after a superb second-half performance overpowered Zebre Rugby Club, who went down 32-12 at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre.
Fly-half Ihaia West gave the home club the perfect start, slotting two early penalties, but it was Zebre who had the upper hand up until half-time.
Tries from Gabriele Di Giulio and Maxime Mbanda put the Italian outfit ahead at the break, with fly-half Guglielmo Palazzani converting the second effort to give his side a 12-6 lead.
However, La Rochelle were at their powerful best in the second period, with Dany Priso, who was awarded Man of the Match, putting his side ahead. The France prop’s effort was converted by New Zealander West.
— Stade Rochelais (@staderochelais) January 11, 2019
Second-half tries from La Rochelle’s Arthur Retiere and Botia Veivuke stretched their lead, with Hikairo Forbes scoring in the 82nd minute to secure a try-scoring bonus point for his side, who claimed the second half 26-0 after substitute Maxime Lafage’s conversion.
La Rochelle will travel to Zebre next week in the reverse fixture, with the Italian side needing a victory to qualify for the quarter-finals.