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PREVIEW: Racing put unbeaten record on the line

Wednesday 14th January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Journée 4 de l'European Rugby Champions Cup

Journée 4 de l'European Rugby Champions Cup

Racing Metro 92 welcome Benetton Treviso to Paris on Sunday as they look to reclaim top-spot in European Rugby Champions Cup Pool Five.

The French side are one of only two undefeated sides in the premier European competition, but they were knocked off top spot in the pool in round four – despite beating the Ospreys 18-14. They conceded first place to Northampton, who thumped Treviso 67-0 in their last match in the tournament.

Racing have the highest points tally of any second-placed side in the competition, and whoever finishes misses out on top spot in the pool will stand a good chance of advancing as one of the three best runners-up. But it could all come down to the final round when the Top14 side travel to Franklin’s Gardens.

They must first get past a Treviso side who are desperate to get off the mark after four straight defeats. The Italians ran Racing Metro close in round two, but Jonathan Sexton’s boot was enough to steer the Parisians to a 26-10 triumph.

Racing had not been able to string more than two wins together in the top European competition before this season. They are especially strong at home, with two crucial victories over Northampton Saints and Ospreys already in the bag.

  • Racing Metro 92 are enjoying their best run of form in the competition, having remained unbeaten in all four games this season (W3 D1) before that their best run without defeat was two games.
  • Benetton Treviso have won just one of their last 19 games in the competition, and have not won in France since October 2004.
  • Of players to have made more than 30 carries, Brice Dulin (8.1m) has the highest average gain in the Champions Cup.
  • Racing Metro 92 have conceded just one try off their opponents first phase; no team has conceded fewer tries from the first phase of possession in the tournament this season.
  • Treviso have been yellow carded six times in the tournament this season; only Montpellier have been yellow carded as often.

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REPORT: Racing race to top of Pool 5

Sunday 18th January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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C'est donc à Llanelli que les Ciel et Blanc repartent à la conquête de l'Europe (18h30). Première étape

C'est donc à Llanelli que les Ciel et Blanc repartent à la conquête de l'Europe (18h30). Première étape

Racing Metro 92 took top spot in Pool 5 in some style after thrashing Treviso 53-7 at the Stade Yves du Manoir to emerge as the only surviving unbeaten team at the end of five rounds of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

The French giants scored nine tries in a free-flowing display that sets up a mouth-watering encounter with Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens next week, with the victor poised to win the pool.

Skipper Dimitri Szarzewski will grab the headlines with his hat-trick, but wing Juan Imhoff and full back Benjamin Lapeyre were equally impressive in grabbing a brace of tries apiece. Henry Chavancy also touched down early on, with a penalty try providing the seventh score after 68 minutes .

Racing got off the mark with nine minutes played after impressive link work among the pack gave Argentine international Imhoff a glimpse of space out wide. The Pumas star turned on the gas to cut through into the 22 before finding centre Chavancy with a well-timed inside pass.

Maxime Machenaud added the extras but the home faithful had to wait close to 20 minutes to celebrate their second score despite almost total domination from their side. It was worth the wait, though, as far as Lapeyre was concerned, with the former Toulon No15 claiming his first try since a debut score some 17 months ago. Lapeyre stretched out off the back of a close-range ruck after a strong carry from Eddy Ben Arous rescued a sloppy five-metre lineout.

Again, Machenaud converted to make it 14-0 approaching the half hour and Szarzewski then put the result beyond any real doubt when he powered over from a rolling maul four minutes before the break. The extras missed the mark this time around but Racing’s 19-0 lead left a Treviso side who hadn’t won on French soil for more than a decade facing a mountain to climb in the second period.

And their task got even tougher straight after the restart as former Gloucester prop Rupert Harden saw yellow for a needless block on Racing wing Marc Andreu, with Szarzewski claiming the bonus point try almost immediately after Harden’s departure.

The Racing captain then put the disappointment of missing out on a place in the French squad for the Six Nations behind him as he became a hat-trick hero with just 54 minutes on the clock, with a driving line-out again the platform for his personal milestone.

Michele Campagnaro’s interception try from 30 metres out finally got Treviso off the mark three minutes later but any hopes of a sensational comeback were shortlived as Imhoff sliced through in style for Racing's sixth score.

The brilliant individual break from the Pumas wing featured a classy hitch kick thrown in for good measure and replacement Benjamin Dambielle’s successful conversion saw Racing lead 36-7 with 63 minutes gone.

A penalty try for a scrum offence followed five minutes further down the line and Imhoff barged over out wide for try number eight with 10 minutes left to play. Lapeyre then rubbed salt into Treviso’s substantial wounds at the death as his second and Racing’s ninth try took the tally past 50.

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