Berliner Tageszeitung - Russell brilliance takes Racing into Champions Cup last four

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Russell brilliance takes Racing into Champions Cup last four




Russell brilliance takes Racing into Champions Cup last four
Russell brilliance takes Racing into Champions Cup last four / Foto: © AFP

Finn Russell scored a superb solo effort and set-up another for Teddy Thomas as Racing 92 beat Sale Sharks 41-22 on Sunday to book their place in the European Champions Cup semi-finals.

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The Parisians will host fellow French club La Rochelle in Lens next Sunday due to a rap concert at their La Defense Arena home as Scotland fly-half Russell's second-half contributions came after Racing trailed at the break.

In the other semi record-five time winners Toulouse will head back to Dublin to face Leinster after beating Munster on Saturday in a penalty shoot-out.

The four-time winners eased past Leicester Tigers 23-14 earlier on Saturday.

On the indoor artificial surface in front of just 9,356 spectators neither side managed to control the game inside the opening quarter as France Under-20 scrum-half Nolan Le Garrec kicked two penalties after Robert du Preez missed with an effort.

After half an hour the Sharks' South Africa scrum-half Faf de Klerk came closest to crossing for a try but the Rugby World Cup winner knocked on while attempting to ground his pick and go from short range.

De Klerk was then involved in the opening touchdown as his fumbled pass was gathered by England centre Manu Tuilagi 15 metres out with the clock in the red.

Tuilagi then found space to canter under the posts unopposed and Du Preez's conversion made it 10-6 at the break, with the English side 40 minutes away from a first win in France since December 2012.

Racing returned onto the pitch from the interval first and reacted quickly to take control of the tie with two sublime tries to take the score to 23-10 after just nine minutes of the second half.

Thomas gathered Russell's grubber before kicking the ball again to score in one movement.

The former Glasgow Warriors playmaker then outdid Thomas to dive over after two volleys, with lucky bounces, which started in his own half.

The visitors responded swiftly to the two quick scores and after a succession of pick and goes, Springboks hooker Akker van der Merwe bundled over.

With Du Preez's conversion it was a seven-point game with 25 minutes to go before Le Garrec made it 29-17 with two penalties with less than a quarter of an hour left to make sure of the result.

With Racing's place in the last four almost secured Pumas winger Juan Imhoff scored to celebrate his new contract in the French capital before Ben Curry, a second half replacement for his twin brother, Tom, claimed a consolation effort for Sale.

Young full-back Max Spring then cruised over for the hosts' fourth try in additional time.

O. Larsen--BTZ