Top 14 - Game of the Week
Perpignan stop the rot with bonus point win
January 8, 2010
Perpignan's Henry Tuilagi stretches the Racing defence on his return to action for the Catalans
© Getty Images
Perpignan got back to winning ways with a comprehensive 31-12 victory over Racing Metro at cold and wind-swept Stade Aime Giral.
Scrum-half Nicolas Durand, centre Gavin Hume, prop Benoit Bourrust, lock Olivier Olibeau and winger Farid Sid all touched down to help the defending champions secure a much-needed bonus point win and snap a four-game losing streak in all competitions. Racing fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski kicked all his side's points as the Parisians slumped to back-to-back league defeats having won their previous nine league encounters.
Captain Lionel Nallet returned to lead Racing in one of ten changes made by coach Pierre Berbizier in the wake of their narrow loss to Bourgoin while Perpignan welcomed back No.8 Henry Tuilagi back for the first time in eight weeks along with fullback Jerome Porical as they looked bounce back from a mauling at the hands of Brive.
A gusting wind ensured a frenetic opening to the clash - the third in the last nine days for both sides. Under pressure to take advantage of the wind at their backs, Racing opened the scores with Wisniewski keeping a penalty effort low to make sure it reached its target. Back came Perpignan and a strong run from Tuilagi took the hosts into the Racing 22 and although the move broke down a penalty allowed fly-half Steve Meyer to turn the screw with a kick to touch in the corner. The Racing defence then went missing allowing Durand to stroll through a gaping hole for the opening try of the game.
Porical pulled his conversion attempt wide of the posts and he was off-target again soon after when Racing prop Andrea Lo Cicero was penalised for holding onto the ball. A swift counter then had Perpignan under pressure and a penalty at the resulting scrum gave Wisniewski the chance to restore Racing's lead but his effort hit the post and was eventually cleared by Meyer.
Racing rallied once more and a series of impressive drives took them into the Perpignan 22 where they were frustrated by some desperate defence before Wisniewski slotted a sweetly-struck drop goal. Racing were soon pressing again and some powerful scrummaging forced another penalty that allowed Wisniewski to edge his side further ahead.
Perpignan ended the half strongly and Racing were forced to work hard to repel the hosts. Another strong burst from Tuilagi took his side close before Durand recycled the ball for Meyer but the fly-half failed to find his winger Adrien Plante with what would have been a scoring pass.
The wind continued to cause problems from the re-start Racing were soon under pressure again. A great drive from the Perpignan back had the visitors on the front foot and when the penalty came Meyer opted to kick for the corner in a bold statement of intent. Lock Robins Tchale-Watchou went close following a catch and drive and Plante was also shackled just short of the line. A big scrum from Racing looked to have disrupted Perpignan's push but Hume emerged from a crowd of players to grab the try that was converted by Porical.
An error from Racing scrum-half Mathieu Loree then gifted another attacking position to Perpignan. The kick to the corner was again the preferred option and another strong surge resulted in Bourrust burrowing his way over with Porical adding the extras. Racing rallied with Frans Steyn scampering into the Perpignan 22 before being hauled down but his efforts drew the penalty which Wisniewski slotted.
A high tackle from Nallet on Meyer then handed Perpignan the chance to extend their lead but Porical's long-rang effort went wide. Racing replacement Santiago Dellape was lucky to escape with a cheap shot on Durand but a knock on from Wisniewski handed Perpignan the ball under the posts. A poor pass from replacement scrum-half Florian Cazenave looked to have brought an end to a promising opportunity but Hume broke a couple of soft tackles before off-loading the ball to Olibeau who had the strength to power over for the try.
Racing refused to roll over with centre Andrea Masi cutting a great line to scythe through the Perpignan defence before the hosts conceded the penalty in a bid snuff out the danger. Wisnieski went close off the back of the next scrum and then Sebastian Chabal was shackled before an ambitious chip through from Steyn was claimed and then cleared.
Perpignan finished the game stronger with Sid rounding out the scoring with a try in the corner after some good work from Porical. The result lifted Perpignan to third in the table and extended their impressive record at the Stade Aime Giral where they have not conceded a league try since the opening day of the season.