Under-fire Racing92 snatch Stade Francais derby boost


Shaken by revelations that three of their players tested positive for cortisone during their Top 14 final victory last season, Racing92 snatched a 29-22 win over Stade Francais in the Parisian derby on Saturday.

A 79th-minute Camille Chat try sealed victory as the rivals were locked 22-22 going into the final minute, with Maxime Machenaud, who scored 19 of his side’s points, converting in the last action of the match.

It got the defending champions’ back to winning ways after two away defeats at Castres and Brive had left Racing in the bottom half of the table.

French daily L’Equipe reported during the week that three Racing players — All Blacks legend Dan Carter, fellow former New Zealand international Joe Rokocoko and Argentinian team-mate Juan Imhoff — tested positive for the anti-inflammatory drug after Racing 92 beat Toulon in the French Top 14 final in Barcelona in June.

Racing insisted that the treatments were authorised but the players looked visibly uncomfortable in front of their home crowd in Colombes on the outskirts of Paris for the derby between the last two French champions.

Imhoff and Rokocoko were both in the lineups but injured Carter watched from the sidelines.

“It hurts. You can’t remain indifferent to these things because they are serious,” said Racing backs coach Laurent Labit in response to the controversy over traces of corticosteroids being found in the urine of the three players concerned.

“When it affects people, their image, their honour and character, it becomes serious.

“But if we manage to get over this together we will thank everyone because I think that this is going to make us even stronger.”

Imhoff scored his side’s first try after 11 minutes, as Racing had to fight off wave after wave of attacks from their Parisian rivals.

Stade Francais led 16-10 at half-time thanks to a Julien Arias try three minutes before the break and 11 points off the boot of Julien Dupuy.

But the hosts gained the ascendancy in the second half again through the boot of Machenaud, although Stade came back to level through a Jules Plisson penalty on 75, before Chat broke the deadlock.

It deprived the Parisians of a bonus point, and set the tone for Racing’s European Cup opener against Munster next Sunday.

League leaders Clermont host Toulouse on Sunday, while there is already a strong sense of a relegation battle at the other end of the table as rock-bottom Grenoble entertain Bayonne with the two clubs having notched up just two wins between them this season.

© 2016 AFP

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