Saturday 16 December 2017

O'Gara's Racing 92 eye Top14 crown


Ronan O'Gara Photo: Getty Images
Ronan O'Gara Photo: Getty Images
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Ronan O'Gara's Racing 92 have an opportunity to end a 26-year trophy drought when they take on Toulon in Friday night's Top14 final.

The Parisian side, whose defence is coached by O'Gara, had to rely on the boot of Dan Carter as their marquee signing held his nerve to slot a dramatic last-gasp conversion in extra-time against Clermont on Friday.

After the sides had finished 27-27 in normal time, a Scott Spedding drop goal and a huge Brock James penalty gave Clermont a six-points advantage but Racing struck late on to stun their opponents.

With three minutes left on the clock Argentine winger Juan Imhoff scored a breakaway try and Carter stepped up to slot the conversion and claim a 34-33 win.

O'Gara's side will now contest their first domestic final since 1990 when they meet Toulon who saw off Montpellier in the second semi-final on Saturday.

Having missed the World Cup with a knee injury, Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny played his first game in nine months and his 17-point haul (five penalties and a conversion) were pivotal to Toulon booking their place in the final for the fourth time in five years.

"When you have Leigh Halfpenny, it's like having Jonny Wilkinson. He is an international kicker," Toulon coach Bernard Laporte said.

"It's not an insult to others but when he is available, it makes life easier."

The final will be played at Barcelona's Nou Camp for the first time due to a clash with Euro 2016 fixtures in Paris and is expected to break attendance records for a domestic rugby encounter.

Irish Independent

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