Maxime Machenaud steered Racing 92 to a nail-biting 26-25 Top 14 home victory over Montpellier, pouncing to score their two tries when the visitors were reduced to 14 through ill-discipline
Paris (AFP) - Maxime Machenaud steered Racing 92 to a nail-biting 26-25 Top 14 home victory over Montpellier on Saturday, pouncing to score their two vital tries when the visitors were reduced to 14.
The result consolidated Racing’s fifth place in the table on 62 points, with Vern Cotter’s Montpellier in ninth on 52, five adrift of the final play-off berth.
Machenaud kicked 16 points, opening up with two penalties.
When Montpellier won their first penalty, Benoit Paillaugue saw his effort come back off the upright.
Montpellier regained the ball and after a break by Cameroon-born winger Gabriel N’Gandebe, the scrum half was on hand to dart over from short range for a try he also converted.
The visitors turned the screw when a Paillaugue penalty again came back off the post, Racing failing to secure the rebound and centre Jan Serfontein played in for a try in the corner.
Montpellier were reduced to 14 men when Georgian tighthead prop Levan Chilachava was yellow carded for hands in a ruck.
Racing thought they had made the advantage pay immediately, but Juan Imhoff’s final pass to Brice Dulin was ruled forward.
The pressure paid off, however, as flanker Baptiste Chouzenoux crashed over deep into time added on in the first half.
Machenaud converted to hand Racing a 13-12 half-time lead. The scrum-halves then traded penalties early in the second period.
Ex-All Black Aaron Cruden took over the kicking for Montpellier and pulled back three points and then Paillaugue again burrowed over from close to the line after an electric break by N’Gandebe, Cruden converting to make it 25-19.
With five minutes to play, an offside Jacques du Plessis saw yellow as Montpellier desperately tried to hold on against an increasingly frenetic Racing attack.
From the penalty, Racing opted for the scrum, the ball was shipped left and replacement centre Henry Chavancy muscled his way over for a try that Machenaud converted for the crucial one-point lead.
Montpellier had a chance of a final hurrah at the death, but Enzo Sanga inexplicably kicked the ball into touch to end the game, leaving coach Cotter fuming on the sidelines.
Elsewhere, Stade Francais confirmed Sunday that backs Tony Ensor and Kylan Hamdaoui were both recovering after they were stretchered off following a collision in Saturday’s 25-22 victory over Agen.
Hamdaoui posted a selfie showing his right eye closed with a huge bruise and 25 stitches around his cheek bone, while Kiwi winger Ensor was left with blood pouring from an apparent jaw injury.