Champions Cup – Stade Rochelais Keeps Playoff Dreams Alive With Win Over Leicester Tigers


Stade Rochelais kept their hopes alive to qualify for the playoffs in the 2023/24 Champions Cup with a comprehensive 45-12 win over Leicester Tigers Stade Marcel Deflandre on Sunday.

Stade Rochelais hooker Pierre Bourgarit, flanker Will Skelton and replacement front row Joel Sclavi also etched their names on the scoresheet in the bonus point victory, fly-half Antoine Hastoy converting five tries for a tally of 10 points.

A first-half try from Leicester Tigers’ lock George Martin and a late consolation try from outside centre Dan Kelly, the former converted by fly-half Jamie Shillcock, was all the Gallagher Premiership side could muster in the harrowing defeat.

The hosts opened the scoring in the 6th minute thanks to a powerful rolling maul finished off by hooker Bourgarit down the left flank, Hastoy successful with the first of three conversions in the opening period.

On the half-hour mark, the TOP 14 club once again made excellent use of a lineout inside the Leicester Tigers’ 22 to convert for a second try. This time flanker Skelton gathered from the back of the maul in a well-worked set piece before rumbling over the whitewash.

Three minutes before the break the visitors were afforded a lifeline as lock Martin charged through two would-be tacklers to dot down from close range

However, there was still time in the half for the hosts to mount their own offensive, outside centre Seuteni brushing off the tackle of Shillcock to earn Stade Rochelais their third try of the contest to lead 21-07 at the halftime break.

Thomas secured the bonus point try five minutes into the second half. A midfield scrum was quickly switched to the right flank where the wing walked in unabated as the two-time defending champions flexed their muscles.

The visitors, however, were handed a lifeline 10 minutes into the second period as Skelton was sent to the sin-bin following a series of penalties close to the Stade Rochelais tryline. A minute later Jonathan Danty was also given a yellow card for a high tackle, the TOP 14 club reduced to 13 men for eight minutes.

Even with the two-man disadvantage, Stade Rochelais turned around field position before scoring a shorthanded try through replacement front row Sclavi on the hour mark.

Thomas then completed his brace with a sensational length-of-the-field try. The wing gathered the ball inside his own 22 before slaloming his way through Leicester Tigers’ backfield for a sublime score.

There was still time for Seuteni to complete a brace of his own, the centre crossing over with just seven minutes remaining in the contest. In the dying seconds, Leicester Tigers’ Kelly added a late consolation try for the visitors who fell to their first defeat of the competition.

Stade Rochelais travel to face Sale Sharks in Round 4 of the Pool Stage next Sunday with the winner assured of a place in the Round of 16, while Leicester Tigers host perennial powerhouse Leinster Rugby at Mattioli Woods Welfare Road on Saturday.

Stade Rochelaide: Tries: Pierre Bourgarit, Will Skelton, UJ Seuteni, Teddy Thomas (2), Joel Sclavi, UJ Seuteni. Conversions: Antoine Hastoy (5).
Leicester Tigers: Tries: George Martin, Dan Kelly. Conversion: Jamie Shillcock.


Stade Rochelaide: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 UJ Seuteni, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Antoine Hastoy, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Grégory Alldritt (captain), 7 Levani Botia, 6 Paul Boudehent, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Pierre Bourgarit, 1 Reda Wardi. Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq, 17 Joel Sclavi, 18 Aleksandre Kuntelia, 19 Remi Picquette, 20 Judicael Cancoriet, 21 Yoan Tanga, 22 Thomas Berjon, 23 Hugo Reus.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Dan Kelly, 12 Solomone Kata, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Ben Youngs, 8. Kyle Hatherell, 7. Olly Cracknell, 6. Matt Rogerson, 5. Ollie Chessum, 4. George Martin,3. Dan Cole, 2. Julian Montoya (captain), 1. James Cronin. Replacements: 16 Finn Theobald-Thomas, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Matt Scott.