La Rochelle survive Lyon scare for Top 14 win
Fly-half Antoine Hastoy made the difference with his boot as La Rochelle survived a late Lyon fightback to edge their Top 14 rivals 23-21 in their first away game this season.
Ronan O'Gara's La Rochelle remained unchanged from the starting XV that opened their campaign with a win against French champions Montpellier at home last weekend.
But after dominating, keeping the hosts scoreless for nearly an hour and touching down twice, La Rochelle endured a nervy finish with Lyon scoring three tries to earn a bonus defensive point.
"The last five minutes were very stressful," said La Rochelle full back Brice Dulin.
"Lyon played their luck to the full and it almost cost us dearly. We have to be able to kill games and not let the opponents come back."
A well-structured gameplan and their opponent's shortcomings had allowed La Rochelle take control. New Zealand scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow touched down their first try after 12 minutes.
Hastoy punished the opposition with two penalities as the visitors surged to a 13-0 lead after 43 minutes. The 25-year-old France international kicked 13 points to ensure victory even though Lyon scored one more try.
Lyon dug deep with Georgian Davit Niniashvili touching down the first of his side's tries after 57 minutes.
La Rochelle's South African winger Dillyn Leyds responded with a second try for his side, before late tries from international scrum half Baptiste Couilloud and New Zealand centre Josiah Maraku ensured a nervy finish for the visitors.
"It's good to start the season with two wins, but the goal is not to start strong and then crash," said Dulin.
"The last ten minutes left a bitter taste. We are aware that we could have lost it."
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