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Racing 92 face TOP 14 rivals Stade Rochelais for the first time in the Heineken Champions Cup when they meet in the semi-finals at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens on Sunday.
Neither side have tasted defeat in the last four of the competition, with Racing advancing on three occasions and La Rochelle triumphing on their first appearance at that stage last season.
Racing have won eight of their last nine games in the Heineken Champions Cup, including the last five in a row (excluding cancelled matches). However, their only defeat in that spell came in a knockout fixture against French opposition – 24-21 against Union Bordeaux-Bègles in last season’s quarter-finals.
The game kicks off at 15:00 (UK & Irish time) and can be viewed on BT Sport, Channel 4, Virgin Media, beIN SPORTS and France 2.
Racing 92: 1st in Pool A; 19 points
Stade Rochelais: 3rd in Pool A; 16 points
Racing 92 41-22 Sale Sharks
Stade Rochelais 31-19 Montpellier Hérault Rugby
Heineken Champions Cup head-to-head record
Racing 92 and Stade Rochelais have never met in the European Cup.
Leading 2021/22 points-scorers
Racing 92: Nolann Le Garrec (47)
Stade Rochelais: Ihaia West (59)
Finn Russell (Racing 92 fly-half): “It’s probably going to be even harder. We have already played La Rochelle a few times this year and last year they beat us in the semi-finals of the TOP 14. We know them, we will have to prepare well.”
Grégory Alldritt (Stade Rochelais No.8): “Last year we missed out and we still have a bitter taste in our mouths. We want to get rid of it, so we are more motivated than ever. There are great players who have left us, like Keke (Kevin Gourdon, forced to quit during the season), Victor (Vito), and Jérémy Sinzelle, who is going to leave. We want to end on a high note for these guys.”
Your @DHLRugby Try of the Round winner – Max Spring 🤩
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 12, 2022
Other key stats
- Racing have faced TOP 14 opposition on 13 previous occasions in the European Cup (W8, L5), while La Rochelle have played French opposition four times (W3, L1).
- La Rochelle’s four previous matches against TOP 14 opposition in the Heineken Champions Cup have all come in the knockout stage of the competition.
- La Rochelle have won 10 of their last 11 matches in the Heineken Champions Cup (L1, excluding cancelled matches), including the last six in a row, this after winning just three of their previous 10 fixtures in the competition (L7).
- Racing have scored six tries from counter attacks in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, more than any other club. That tally accounts for 35% of their tries this campaign, also the highest ratio of any side.
- Racing have won each of their 22 scrums on their own feed in the Heineken Champions Cup this season. Only four other clubs have recorded a 100% scrum success rate in the competition in 2021/22 and none of those sides have contested as many as Racing.
- Only 47% of the defensive rucks that Racing have faced in the Heineken Champions Cup this season have been completed in under three seconds. No other side have managed to slow their opponents down as much, while in attack only Toulouse (73%) and Leinster (70%) have completed a higher percentage of their rucks in under three seconds than La Rochelle (66%).
- Grégory Alldritt (La Rochelle) has made the most carries (94) of any player in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, with no forward recording more metres (601), defenders beaten (19), line breaks (5) or offloads (14) than the French international.
- Racing’s Finn Russell has made eight passes that have directly led to a line break in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, two more than any other player. The fly half has also made the third most kicks in play (64) and gained the third most kicking metres (1939) of any player in the competition this season.
Match Centre - Preview - Lineups
Stade Rochelais set up a Heineken Champions Cup final against Leinster Rugby in Marseille after grinding out a 20-13 win over Racing 92 at Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Sunday.
La Rochelle, who have now reached successive Heineken Champions Cup finals, were 10 points down to their TOP 14 rivals in the first half, but Grégory Alldritt’s score and a penalty try, in addition to eight points from Ihaia West, turned things around.
Racing led through Virimi Vakatawa’s try, with two penalties from Nolann Le Garrec initially helping to keep La Rochelle at bay before a sloppy second half display saw them overhauled.
There was little to separate the two sides during the opening exchanges, with Racing marginally ahead for much of the opening 25 minutes thanks to the first of scrum-half Le Garrec’s penalties.
La Rochelle threatened but were unable to put points on the board as fly-half West shanked a penalty wide before wing Raymond Rhule had a score ruled out by the TMO.
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 15, 2022
Racing then notched the game’s first try as centre Vakatawa danced through the La Rochelle defence and reached out to plant down, Le Garrec’s conversion moving the hosts 10 points clear.
West narrowed the gap with a penalty on 32 minutes, and La Rochelle would go into the break just two points down as No.8 Alldritt powered over off the base of a scrum following an extended period of pressure from the visitors at the end of the half.
West was unable to level the scores with the conversion, and he was off target with another effort from the tee five minutes into the second half as he struck the posts with a penalty from a good position.
Le Garrec then added his second three-pointer of the game to extend Racing’s lead on 50 minutes, but they would endure a disastrous few minutes after that score as they were reduced to 13 men and conceded a penalty try.
They meet again ⚔️
Revenge for @leinsterrugby after last year's semi and a record-equalling fifth title?
Or redemption for @staderochelais after last year's Final and a first title?#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/tsmH8272c3
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 15, 2022
Replacement hooker Camille Chat was shown a yellow card for an accumulation of offences, and when a La Rochelle maul was brought down metres from the Racing line, the penalty try was awarded, with replacement prop Cedate Gomes Sa also sent to the sin bin.
But Racing survived the remainder of the period without conceding, with Le Garrec sending two long-range penalties wide as they ran down the clock.
The home side then went on the offensive and got over the whitewash on 66 minutes, only for them to be held up amid some excellent La Rochelle defence.
Replacement fly-half Pierre Popelin was well short with a penalty attempt from inside his own half as La Rochelle looked to widen the gap, but it would prove insignificant.
The away side ended the game in the ascendancy as they ran down the clock on the Racing line, with West then capping a terrific day for his team as he dived over to dot down in the corner.