Dublin: 12°C Saturday 25 June 2022

Sexton's Racing Métro make winning start against disappointed Saints

The English side were denied a losing bonus point in the final minute of play.

“WE’LL EITHER BE alive or dead on Saturday night.”

So said Ronan O’Gara of Racing Métro’s Champions Cup interest earlier this week.

Well, the Parisians are alive and kicking. Johnny Sexton’s two penalties and one conversion helped Racing to a 20-11 victory over Northampton Saints to jump to the top of Pool 5 for the night at least.

They will travel to Treviso next weekend with their European intent piqued, having denied Northampton a losing bonus point thanks to a last-minute Marc Andreu try and Johan Goosen’s conversion.

Andreu Marc Andreu's late try for Racing after the wing blocked Ben Foden's kick.

Joe Schmidt will have been encouraged by many aspects of Sexton’s performance on his return from a fractured jaw, as the Ireland out-half looked lively in attack and kicked well out of hand, barring one missed kick to touch.

There was also a straightforward miss from the tee to the left of the posts too, but overall it was a sharp performance from Sexton.

Irish referee George Clancy covered himself in less glory, sparking much frustration among the players with his display on the whistle.

“It could be our discipline, it could be the ref,” said Sexton of the yellow cards for Julien Brugnaut and Eddy Ben Arous’ yellow cards in the second half.

I’m not sure, I’ll have to take a look at it. We had two Irish boys on our team [himself and Ronan O'Gara], I thought George would have looked after us a bit better. I think he likes to go against the home team, the French boys don’t understand that,” joked Sexton when speaking to Sky Sports after the game.

A bulldozing try from wildly in-form centre Alexandre Dumoulin allowed Sexton to kick Racing into a 7-0 lead after just five minutes. The Saints had to wait another 25 just to get on the scoreboard, Stephen Myler kicking a penalty.

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Sexton extended the Parisian lead just before the break, before Myler again reduced the deficit for his side early in the second half.

The Irish out-half scored his second penalty in the 68th minute to send Racing into what looked like a comfortable lead, but with Ben Arous in the bin, Ken Pisi created a Saints try for Phil Dowson.

Pisi Dowson crosses after some clever play by Pisi.

The reliable Myler had an opportunity to draw the score level with his 76th minute conversion, but was wide of the target, leaving Racing 13-11 ahead with Sexton already having been substituted.

Rather than settle for the losing bonus point, however, the Saints held onto possession with time up, before Foden looked to dink a contestable kick in behind Racing from inside his own 22.

Andreu pounced and sent Jim Mallinder’s men home with no match points.

Racing Source: EPCR

The Ospreys host Treviso at the Liberty Stadium tomorrow afternoon at 13.00.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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