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PREVIEW: La Rochelle aim to end losing run

Monday 7th December 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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European Rugby Challenge Cup Resumé - Journée 3  - La Rochelle - Exeter Chiefs - 04/12/2014 23:02

European Rugby Challenge Cup Resumé - Journée 3 - La Rochelle - Exeter Chiefs - 04/12/2014 23:02

La Rochelle are looking to claim their first victory against foreign opposition in almost five years when they welcome Italian side Zebre to the west coast of France.

Les rochelais have only one success in their last two campaigns in European Rugby Challenge Cup, against compatriots Bayonne.

But you have to go back to January 2011 when they last defeated a non-French side in Europe and, handily ahead of this week’s tie, it was also against Italian opposition. They beat Rovigo 71-17 to claim a place in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, eventually losing to Clermont-Auvergne.

Since the win over Bayonne they have lost their last six games in Europe, including the opening games of this season’s campaign against Worcester and Gloucester.

However they are undefeated against Italian teams, after six previous encounter. And they are riding high after beating Grenoble 33-16 last week to overtake the same opponents into ninth place thanks to tries from Levani Botia, Kevin Gourdon and Gabriel Lacroix.

But La Rochelle face a Zebre side who head to Stade Marcel Deflandre on the back of a surprise victory over Worcester Warriors in the previous round.

Tries from Marcello Violi and Tommaso Boni along with 17 points from the boot of Carlo Canna clinched a 27-8 success in Parma.

That may have been only their third win in the Challenge Cup but they know what it takes to be successful in France, having won in Brive last season.

Match Facts

  • This will be the first clash between these sides in the Challenge Cup.
  • La Rochelle have suffered six consecutive defeats in the competition, previously they had never lost more than two games in a row in the Challenge Cup.
  • La Rochelle’s last 11 games in the competition have all been settled by winning margins of 10+ points.
  • Zebre have faced French opposition four times in the Challenge Cup winning two of those games while La Rochelle have won all six encounters with Italian sides in the competition.
  • In their ninth Challenge Cup fixture Zebre will be looking to achieve consecutive victories for the first time having won their last fixture against Worcester Warriors.

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REPORT: La Rochelle gain first win

Friday 11th December 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Sérieux face aux Zèbres

Sérieux face aux Zèbres

Fabien Fortassin put the wraps on La Rochelle’s first win of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

The fly-half stepped through to score near the posts and clinch a bonus-point victory at Stade Marcel-Deflandre

And earlier tries from Benjamin Lapeyre, Jone Quovo Nailiko and Kini Murimurivalu saw the hosts end a run of six games in the Challenge Cup without a win.

Zebre were unfortunate to leave the west of France empty-handed, narrowly missing out on not just one but two bonus points after scoring three tries late on.

It was back in 2011 that La Rochelle last beat a foreign team tough they had never lost to Italian opposition and Fortassin opened the scoring with a penalty on ten minutes.

The hosts then stepped on the gas to score three tries in 17 minutes to open a 20-0 lead before half-time.

Jules Lebail’s quickly-taken penalty saw full-back Lapeyre cross on 14 minutes. No.8 Nailiko then finished a powerful drive by the Stade Rochelais pack moments later before wing Murimurivalu sped clear for a third.

La Rochelle’s scrum provided the platform for Fortassin to cross for the fourth that was converted by Lebail.

However indiscipline gave Zebre, who beat Worcester Warriors in the previous round of games, a way back.

Eduardo Padovani kicked a penalty to the corner and Giulio Toniolatti went over from the resulting drives on 61 minutes.

Zebre’s pack got on top and Marco Bortolami was rewarded for turning down a kick at goal for a scrum, from where replacement scrum-half Guglielmo Palazzani skipped over.

The Italians were reduced to 14 men on 71 minutes when replacement prop Dario Chistolini was binned.
But he returned in time to turn the screw once again. This time La Rochelle lost Uini Atonio to a yellow card after a series of scrums collapsed.

And the penalty-try was inevitable when the front-rows collapsed again seconds later in injury-time.

However the score was not enough as three tries and an eight-point loss left them with nothing to show for their second-half efforts. 

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