Top 14: La Rochelle ends the year well


Thanks to a thunderous end to the match in very difficult playing conditions, La Rochelle went for the offensive bonus in addition to the victory against Lyon (25-3) to consolidate its fourth place.

La Rochelle could not have given Kévin Gourdon a better farewell gift. While the third-row forced to retire due to a heart problem made a moving speech shortly before the meeting, Ronan O’Gara’s players greeted him with an enhanced victory over Lyon on the occasion of their last exit of the year. A meeting which took place under special conditions at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre since the rain and the wind were invited. Léo Berdeu was even trapped from the start since his long and low kick-off went directly into the in-goal with Grégory Alldritt who then flattened to obtain a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite everything, the two teams tried to send the game but, after putting the Rhone pack to death, it was at the foot that the Rochelais opened the scoring. Facing the posts and with the help of the wind, Ihaia West opened the scoring in the 9th minute. Struggling to perform the scrum, the LOU suffered the play and proved to be too imprecise on his offensive moves to hope to make any difference. Shortly before the half-hour mark, Ihaia West doubled the advantage of Stade Rochelais after seeing his front eight once again dominate Pierre Mignoni’s players.

La Rochelle ignored the conditions

The lack of scrum attire was ultimately disciplined at the half-hour mark with hooker Joseph Taufete’e who received a yellow card and was able to watch from the sidelines the end of the first act, before to give way to Colby Fainga’a at half-time. A numerical superiority which the Maritimes immediately took advantage of thanks to Grégory Alldritt. The international third row came victoriously to conclude a conquering ball carried. To add to the difficulties, Lyon lost to injury Joel Kpoku, for whom it was the first tenure, who gave way to Félix Lambey.

Just before the break, the LOU believed for a while to have revived with Davit Niniashvili who went to the duel with Grégory Alldritt on the long throw-in by Léo Berdeu. After resorting to video, the referee finally ruled that there was no try. However, after an offside position from Reda Wardi, Léo Berdeu was able to unlock the Lyon counter three minutes from the break … and finally register the only three points for the Rhone club in this meeting. Ihaia West, meanwhile, missed the opportunity to widen the gap just before returning to the locker room. The start of the second act saw both teams rotate their squads but the score itself did not budge.

Bourgarit offers the bonus, Dulin saves him

It was not until the last quarter of an hour to see the audience of Marcel-Deflandre come alive thanks to Thomas Lavault. The second-line from La Rochelle, after having captured the throw in touch, took advantage of the ball carried to flatten the second try of his formation. The weather was showing a little better for the last ten minutes, the pace suddenly changed and Pierre Bourgarit was responsible for offering the offensive bonus point to La Rochelle with six minutes still to play. Multiplying the playing time, the Maritimes put the Lyon defense in difficulty, which ended up giving way at the foot of the posts.

Until the end, the Rhone players played in an attempt to deprive their opponents of a five-point victory. Just after the siren, Ethan Dumortier believed he had succeeded but the return in extremis of Brice Dulin prevented the LOU winger from reaching his goal. La Rochelle forgets the disappointment of his trip to the lawn of the Stade Français Paris and resumes its forward march (25-3). A success which allows the Maritimes to consolidate their fourth place in the standings with now two points ahead of Castres. Lyon, which continues to alternate victory and defeat, fell to sixth place. A position that remains precarious, Clermont now having one game less.

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