Rampant Racing make Saints suffer

JJ Hanrahan kicked a penalty for Saints at Stade Yves-du-Manoir (picture: Sharon Lucey)

JJ Hanrahan kicked a penalty for Saints at Stade Yves-du-Manoir (picture: Sharon Lucey)

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Saints drowned under a relentless tide of Racing pressure as the French team cruised to a bonus-point 33-3 win at a raucous Stade Yves-du-Manoir on Saturday evening.

Two Brice Dulin tries and further efforts from Henry Chavancy, Eddy Ben Arous and Juan Imhoff gave the hosts a vital Champions Cup victory.

They now sit top of Pool 3 with 10 points from two games, while Saints, who could only reply through a JJ Hanrahan penalty, are two behind having played three matches.

The two teams meet again at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night, with Jim Mallinder’s men knowing they will need a hugely improved performance.

There was always a touch of inevitability about the result in Colombes, with Saints shorn of a plethora of international stars.

Meanwhile, Racing could call on the services of New Zealand star Dan Carter, who was making his debut, and a number of other world-class talents.

Saints were up against it from the off as Racing, backed by the relentless fervour of the drum-beating home fans, turned up the heat.

But in the scrum it was Saints who claimed the upper hand early on, winning a penalty to help relieve some pressure.

However, the pressure wasn’t off for long as unrelenting Racing poured forward, eventually sending centre Chanvancy over in the corner.

A huge roar greeted the successful conversion from Carter, who was notching his first points in a Racing shirt.

Saints were soon on the defensive again as Imhoff looked set to score, but the Argentine wing was superbly stopped by a last-ditch Tom Stephenson tackle.

But it only prolonged the inevitable as Ben Arous bulldozed over and Carter converted to make it 14-0 after just 20 minutes.

It was one-way traffic, but Saints did finally get out and after a Sam Dickinson burst took them within range, referee George Clancy awarded a penalty.

JJ Hanrahan kicked it to earn his team their first points and Saints started to get a foothold in the game.

They were continuing to pen Racing in, but just as they edged towards the line, Victor Matfield had his pass intercepted and Dulin ran the length of the field to score.

Carter continued his hot streak with the boot and the home side had the comfort of an 18-point.

Burrell thought he’d reduced arrears before the break, but he was denied a try by the TMO, who felt that the centre had gone into touch after crossing the try line.

That disallowed score meant Saints had a huge task to get anything out of the game in the second half, and it was made virtually impossible when Dulin scored just after the restart.

Carter missed the conversion, but it mattered not as the Top 14 giants had an imposing lead, knowing they just needed to cruise through the final 36 minutes.

But rather than take it easy, they continued to pour forward in pursuit of more tries, while Saints did their best to break through at the other end.

Fittingly though, Racing had the final word as Imhoff went over in the corner.

Johannes Goosen, on for Carter, added the conversion to round off a fine night for the French night and a sobering one for Saints.

Racing 92: Dulin; Rokocoko, Laulala (Dumoulin 64), Chavancy, Imhoff; Carter (Goosen 64), Phillips; Ben Arous (Brugnaut (52), Szarzewski (c) (Chat 59), Tameifuna (Gomes Sa 59); Charteris, van der Merwe (Carizza 64); Lauret, Nyanga, Masoe (Claassen 65).

Saints: Foden; Elliott (Tuala 64), Burrell, Stephenson, North; Hanrahan (Myler 58), Dickson (c) (Fotuali’i 58); A Waller (E Waller 47), Haywood (Williams 59), Brookes (Hill 58); Paterson, Matfield (Day 58); Lawes, Harrison, Dickinson (Gibson 52).

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Attendance: 8,733