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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020
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La Rochelle and Wasps served up a 78-point thriller this afternoon

The win leaves the Top 14 leaders with 15 points in Pool 1, seven ahead of second-placed Ulster.

La Rochelle's Stade Marcel-Deflandre (file pic).
La Rochelle's Stade Marcel-Deflandre (file pic).
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

FIJIAN FLANKER LEVANI Botia scored a brace of tries to help La Rochelle cement their place atop Pool 1 of the European Champions Cup with a thrilling 49-29 victory over Wasps on Sunday.

The win left the Top 14 leaders with three wins from three and 15 points, seven ahead of second-placed Ulster, who beat Harlequins 17-5. Wasps are third with six points.

La Rochelle’s attractive style of play was there for all to see in the first half, and not many clubs will fancy having to travel to western France for a potential away quarter-final.

The French club enjoyed 73% of possession and 72% territory, covering more than 400 metres peppered with 16 offloads and 20 Wasps defenders beaten. It all meant for a 30-12 lead after a helter-skelter first 40 minutes.

An early Brock James penalty for the hosts was nullified by a fine Rob Miller try for the English visitors, despite Welsh flanker Thomas Young picking up a yellow card for a spear tackle. However, La Rochelle responded immediately, Pierre Aguillon charging down a Danny Cipriani clearance kick for an easy riposte.

Making their numerical advantage clear, hooker Pierre Bourgarit was the next name on the scoresheet, breaking clear after a botched line-out by Wasps.

Levani Botia after the game Levani Botia, pictured here after Fiji's recent defeat to Ireland, scored two tries for La Rochelle. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The returned Young went over in the corner, Jimmy Gopperth converting to make sure Wasps were well in the game before centre-cum-flanker Botia notched up La Rochelle’s third in a great display of running rugby at a packed-out Stade Marcel-Deflandre.

Vincent Rattez touched down early in the second period for La Rochelle to guarantee an attacking bonus point. But Wasps hit back when British and Irish Lions back Elliot Daly crossed after a great flick by Young.

With kicking a scarcity and holes beginning to appear in both defences, first an inch-perfect Ryan Lamb crosskick found Rattez in space for the winger to dot down for his second.

And then Wasps ensured their own bonus point when Daly latched on to a Cipriani kick and offloaded to Joe Simpson for an easy run-in, after which fellow replacement Martin Moore was driven over shortly after. The outstanding Botia had the last word, however, fending off Joe Launchbury to sprint in from 40 metres.

– © AFP 2017

Ulster breathe new life into Champions Cup campaign with huge win at a snowy Stoop

‘I enjoyed the day and enjoyed the people of Munster but it was about getting the win’

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