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Pollard hospitalised with knee injury, Beale sent off on home debut as Racing hammer Montpellier

The Springbok was stretchered off in the second half, with Montpellier boss Xavier Garbajosa saying: ‘I hope for him and the team it’s benign.’

Handre Pollard in action for South Africa during the 2019 World Cup final.
Handre Pollard in action for South Africa during the 2019 World Cup final.
Image: Ashley Western

RUGBY WORLD CUP winner Handre Pollard was taken to hospital with a knee injury after Montpellier’s 41-17 Top 14 loss at Racing 92 on Friday as the hosts’ Kurtley Beale was sent off on his home debut at Paris La Defense Arena.

South African Pollard, 26, who joined Montpellier on a reported annual salary of €1.06 million euros after lifting the Webb Ellis trophy last November, was hurt while attempting to tackle Racing’s Baptiste Chouzenoux in the second half and was taken to a local hospital.

“Generally when someone leaves on a stretcher it’s never very good despite the fact there can be different degrees of knee injuries,” Montpellier coach Xavier Garbajosa said.

“I hope for him and the team it’s benign. He’s left for hospital,” he added.

Wallaby Beale was shown a red card with a quarter of the game to play after a dangerous tackle on France centre Arthur Vincent and could be a doubt for next Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final at Clermont.

“Of course it’s bad news. It’s frustrating, it’s part of the game, I haven’t seen it again, but it’s a red card,” said Racing’s forwards coach Dimitri Szarzewski.

“Now other players have a chance to express themselves,” he added.

France prop Mohamed Haouas was brought back into the fold by the visitors after being disciplined for a reported altercation with a club sponsor and turning up late to training.

The Parisians’ head coach Laurent Travers brought in eight new faces after last Saturday’s win at Lyon but Wallaby Beale retained his place at full-back to make his home bow. Neither Simon Zebo nor Donncha Ryan were in action for Racing, the former injured and the latter seemingly rested following his Midi-Olympique team-of-the-week performance against Lyon last Saturday.

The hosts led 11-0 after 20 minutes thanks to Teddy Iribaren’s two penalty kicks and Teddy Baubigny’s try.

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Pollard claimed his team’s first points with a shot at goal five minutes later before Juan Imhoff claimed Racing’s second try of the evening just before the break.

The home side’s dominance continued into the second half as Virimi Vakatawa and Antonie Claassen benefited to touch down after delicate Finn Russell kicks.

With 18 minutes to play Beale was given his marching orders for as his arm made contact with Vincent’s head in a tackle.

Montpellier lock Janse van Rensburg made the most of the one-man advantage as he crashed over and France full-back Anthony Bouthier, who took over the kicking duties from Pollard, converted to make it 31-10 with a quarter of an hour to play.

Substitute scrum-half Maxime Machenaud extended Racing’s lead to 34-10 with a 67th minute penalty but the red card had a further impact as Travers’ men conceded again.

Pollard’s club and country half-back partner Cobus Reinach raced through after a line-out move to dive over and Bouthier’s extras made it 34-17.

Despite the worries Racing scored with the last play of the game as substitute prop Hassane Kolingar went over from a driving maul.

Elsewhere, former Leinster out-half Noel Reid was also shown a red card on his debut for a high tackle late on in Agen’s 33-23 defeat at Pau.

© – AFP 2020  

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