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Racing stand firm to reach Champions Cup last 8 in snowy conditions

The Parisian club, needing to win to ensure a place in the next round, scored two tries in the first 12 minutes.

Groundsmen clear the lines before the European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool Four match at Welford Road, Leicester.
Groundsmen clear the lines before the European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool Four match at Welford Road, Leicester.
Image: Tim Goode

RACING 92 HUNG on to beat Leicester 23-20 in the snowy English midlands on Sunday to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup.

The Parisian club, needing to win to ensure a place in the last eight, scored two tries in the first 12 minutes against a team that was already eliminated.

Yet Leicester responded to the early scores by Henry Chavancy and Maxime Machenaud with a display of pride. George Ford kicked three penalties before Brendon O’Connor scored a try early in the second half.

A draw or a loss for Racing would have meant Munster would win the pool before their delayed game with Castres kicked off, and Saracens who finished in Pool 2, would have been assured of a last-eight place as one of the three best runners-up.

Twice in the last 15 minutes, Ford converted penalties to level the score, twice Machenaud restored the French lead.

In the dying seconds, Leicester won a penalty five metres from the line. The Tigers decided they would rather gamble on scoring a try to win rather than kicking a penalty for a draw.

Racing’s defense held firm.

Leicester Tigers v Racing 92 - European Rugby Champions Cup - Pool Four - Welford Road Racing 92's Teddy Thomas gets away from Leicester Tigers' Gareth Owen during the European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool Four match at Welford Road. Source: Tim Goode

“We knew it was on the line,” Racing’s Irish lock forward Donnacha Ryan said. “We showed great determination in the end.”

Leicester’s loss means there might be no English club in the last eight. Saracens, the only team that could go through, needed later results in Munster and in Pool 1 to in their favour.

The Munster game was delayed because of heavy rain in the west of Ireland.

“With standing water on the pitch at Thomond Park, the European Rugby Champions Cup, Round 6 match between Munster Rugby and Castres Olympique has been delayed and will now kick-off at 16:00 local time,” the competition organisers, European Professional Club Rugby said on their web site.

© AFP 2018

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