Teddy Thomas scored a superb second-half try. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
Trés Bien

Thomas and Russell conjure Racing magic to set up La Rochelle semi-final

The Parisians are desperate to end their quest for the Champions Cup title.

RACING 92 SECURED their place in the Champions Cup semi-finals next weekend with a 41-22 win over Sale Sharks at the Paris La Défense Arena.

The Parisians will now meet fellow Top 14 side La Rochelle in the last four.

Although Racing have home advantage for the tie, it will take place at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens because their home ground of Paris La Défense Arena is unavailable due to French rap group Sexion d’Assaut having two concerts there next weekend.

Racing attack coach Mike Prendergast will have been pleased with his side’s response to trailing 10-6 at the interval of this afternoon’s quarter-final, with Sale centre Manu Tuilagi having burst over for a try just before half-time to hand his team the lead.

Racing improved after the break and swiftly moved in front when wing Teddy Thomas produced a stunning try, somehow keeping Finn Russell’s diagonal kick in play as he tiptoed along the very edge of the field of play, dropped the ball onto his right foot for a delicate grubber ahead just before he crossed the touchline himself, then got back infield to regather and dot down.

Scrum-half Nolan le Garrec converted and added a penalty soon after, then Russell produced a classy solo try as he volleyed the ball out of his own half, got a fortunate bounce, nudged it ahead a second time, and reeled it back in to dive over for another converted score.

Sale responded in the 54th minute as hooker Akker van der Merwe barrelled over from close range, with Rob du Preez’s conversion bringing the Sharks back within six points of Racing at 23-17.

But two more penalties from le Garrec saw Racing extend their lead again and then the scrum-half broke through before fullback Max Spring fed left wing Juan Imhoff to grab their third try.

Sale scored another consolation try through back row Ben Curry, but the home team weren’t to be denied and they ended the game with aplomb as 21-year-old Spring put the finishing touch on another classy try converted by Maxime Machenaud.

Racing will now meet Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle in the north of France with the semi-final being taken to Lens.

La Rochelle secured their semi-final place yesterday with a convincing 31-19 win over Montpellier. 

Among O’Gara’s coaching team in La Rochelle is ex-Munster and Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan and they will be coaching against one of their former Munster team-mates in Prendergast, who is returning to his native province as attack coach this summer.

Racing have been in the Champions Cup final on three occasions but have yet to win the competition. 

Leinster will play Toulouse in Dublin in the other Champions Cup semi-final next weekend.

Get instant updates on your province. With Laya Healthcare, official health and wellbeing partner to Leinster, Munster and Connacht Rugby. 

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