Champions Cup – Stade Rochelais’ Title Defence Lives On With Sale Sharks Win


Stade Rochelais demonstrated exactly why they are the Investec Champions Cup holders with a strong 37-24 win against Sale Sharks at the Salford Community Stadium.

The two-time champions were staring down the barrel of elimination after losing their first two games in Pool 4, but with victories in Rounds 3 and 4 they were able to turn around their fortunes to continue their search for a third-straight title.

The result means Sale Sharks finish fifth in the pool, qualifying for the EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16.

Strong wind was a decisive factor in the game, with Sale Sharks struggling to gain territory as they worked against the breeze in the first period.

As a result, the visitors dominated; wing Dillyn Leyds crossed for the first try of the game, finishing brilliantly after capturing a charged down ball, with fly-half Antoine Hastoy perfect from the tee as he added the extras and three penalties.

But if the visitors benefited from some help in the first period, there could be no downplaying the second-half performance as, knowing they would face the same problems as Sale Sharks if they opted to kick, Stade Rochelais scored two early running tries to sew up the game.

A turnover from flanker Levani Botia deep in his own territory led to Hastoy racing away for a stunning 80m score just two minutes after the restart, and scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow followed him over the whitewash minutes later.

Hastoy, despite the swirling wind, remained perfect from the tee – although his day was somewhat marred when he saw yellow in the 64th minute after Stade Rochelais gave away one too many penalties in their own 22.

Sale Sharks eventually got over, wing Tom Roebuck dotting down in the corner in the 60th minute, and with the visitors down to 13 after full-back Brice Dulin followed Hastoy into the sin-bin, they picked up a second with replacement hooker Agustin Creevy forcing his way over.

Fly-half George Ford added one set of extras, and with 12 minutes to go the hosts were beginning to dream despite being 18 points behind – but all belief was dashed when centre UJ Seuteni poached a Ford pass and raced away for the bonus-point score, replacement Hugo Reus converting.

But Sale Sharks would not go down without a fight, as flanker Sam Dugdale and replacement Telusa Veainu crossed to restore some pride - Sam Bedlow adding one set of extras.

Sale Sharks: Tries: Tom Roebuck, Agustin Creevy, Sam Dugdale, Telusa Veainu. Conversions: George Ford, Sam Bedlow.
Stade Rochelais: Tries: Dillyn Leyds, Antoine Hastoy, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, UJ Seuteni. Conversions: Antoine Hastoy (3), Hugo Reus. Penalties: Antoine Hastoy (3)


Sale Sharks: 15 Sam James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Rob du Preez, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Arron Reed, 10 George Ford, 9 Gus Warr, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Ben Curry (c), 6 Sam Dugdale, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Ben Bamber, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Tumy Onasanya. Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Asher Opoku-Fordjour, 18 James Harper, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Dan du Preez, 21 Nye Thomas, 22 Rekeiti Ma’asi-White, 23 Telusa Veainu.

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