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Racing 92 head into their Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 second leg against Stade Français Paris at Paris La Defense Arena on Sunday as firm favourites.
In a first ever European meeting between the Paris rivals in the first leg at Stade Jean Bouin, a try from Gaël Fickou and 17 points from the boot of Nolann Le Garrec saw Racing claim a 22-9 victory.
A daunting challenge now faces Stade Français in the return fixture – Racing have conceded only 11 points per game on average in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, fewer than any other team, and were 56-3 winners against Edinburgh Rugby in their previous home knockout stage game.
The game kicks off at 15:30 (UK & Irish time) – catch the action live on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS and Sky Italia.
Our #EPOTY2022 nominee @FickouG making the difference for @Racing92 when it matters 👏#HeinekenChampionsCup extended highlights of the Parisian derby ➡️ https://t.co/qFoKTqEw4H pic.twitter.com/nNZ4l8SgC9
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 9, 2022
Other key stats:
- Racing have won three of their last four home matches in the knockout stage of the Heineken Champions Cup (L1); however, their solitary loss during that period came against TOP 14 opposition (21-22 v Stade Toulousain in the 2018/19 quarter-final).
- Stade Français have lost their last two games against TOP 14 sides in the Heineken Champions Cup after winning six of the previous seven such meetings; they scored fewer than 10 points for the first time against a French club during the 1st leg of this tie (9-22).
- Stade Français have lost each of their five previous away games in the knock-out stage of the Heineken Champions Cup, including their only previous away tie against fellow French opposition (42-16 v Stade Toulousain in the 2009/10 quarter-final).
- Racing are the only team yet to concede a single point in the opening 20 minutes of a Heineken Champions Cup game this season.
- Racing have missed just 13 tackles per game on average this season, fewer than any other side, with only two teams boasting a better tackle success rate than Racing this campaign (89.3%, Leinster Rugby –90.2%, Glasgow Warriors – 89.4%).
- Stade Français have averaged six 22 entries per game in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, fewer than any team still in the competition and the second fewest overall (Castres Olympique – 4.5); meanwhile, Racing have conceded the fewest 22 entries of any team this season (5.3).
- Wenceslas Lauret (Racing) was the only player to make more than two dominant tackles in the Heineken Champions Cup last weekend (3); he has made a total of four dominant tackles this season, only Zander Fagerson and Filipo Nakosi have made more (5 each).
- Nicolas Sanchez (Stade Français) has registered seven try assists in his last five starts in the Heineken Champions Cup; he played only 14 minutes as a replacement in the 1st leg, however.
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Racing 92 weathered a first-half onslaught to eventually breeze past Stade Français Paris at Paris La Defense Arena on Sunday and confirm a home Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final encounter with Sale Sharks.
A penalty try, a Teddy Thomas double and a Wenceslas Lauret score saw Racing record a 33-22 win on the night and a 55-31 aggregate success in the two-legged Round of 16 contest with their Paris rivals.
Telusa Veainu and Adrien Lapegue (2) got over for Stade Français, but their efforts to overhaul a 13-point deficit from the first leg were hindered by Sefa Naivalu’s red card.
There was a dream start for Stade Français as full-back Veainu gathered a loose kick on halfway and glided through the onrushing Racing defenders to dot down for a try, converted by fly-half Nicolas Sanchez to reduce the aggregate deficit to six points.
Sanchez added three more points to Stade Français’ tally with a penalty on 14 minutes, but wing Sefa Naivalu was yellow-carded moments later for an illegal tip tackle, and Racing were quick to strike with a an effort from Nolann Le Garrec from the tee.
A scary one for Louis Dupichot 😔
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 17, 2022
Stade Français would get over again, however, despite being a man down, as wing Lapegue darted over in the corner after another loose ball landed in the visitors’ hands.
Sanchez was unable to convert as Racing remained marginally ahead on aggregate, and the hosts almost hit back as hooker Camille Chat got the ball grounded over the Stade Français line, but a slight knock-on by wing Juan Imhoff saw that effort invalidated.
Referee Nika Amashukeli warned both front rows over their scrummaging during the opening stages, and he lost patience on 25 minutes as Racing prop Cedate Gomes Sa and Stade Français counterpart Clément Castets were both sent to the sin bin.
Le Garrec added a second penalty to extend Racing’s aggregate lead on half an hour, and they were then awarded a penalty try with five minutes remaining in the half as Naivalu failed to wrap his in arms in attempting to deny full-back Louis Dupichot a score in the corner.
Naivalu received a second yellow card for his actions, resulting in a red, reducing Stade Français to 14 men just after the previous sin bins had expired.
But Stade Français struck again just before the break, Lapegue producing an electric step and turn of pace to go over in the corner. Sanchez added the extras to bring the aggregate gap down to four points.
Just wonderful rugby 😍
It always looks so easy when Finn Russell is on the field, @racing92 showing wonderful hands, footwork, and pace as Wenceslas Lauret goes over 👏
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 17, 2022
Wing Thomas’ excellent finish shortly after the interval, converted by Le Garrec, gave Racing some breathing room.
Stade Français almost responded, however scrum-half James Hall’s effort was chalked off by the TMO.
From there, their hopes of reaching the last eight began slipping away as Le Garrec’s third penalty on 55 minutes moved Racing ahead on the night – and further clear on aggregate.
That lead would be consolidated by two tries in the final 10 minutes – flanker Lauret splashing over after a flowing move before Thomas notched his score following a similarly fluid passage of play.
Racing will now begin to plan for a clash with Sale at Paris La Defense Arena on the weekend of May 6/7/8.