Racing beat Tigers to reach first European final


Captain Maxime Machenaud set the tone with an early try and Dan Carter proved he is the man for the big occasion yet again as Racing 92 beat Leicester Tigers 19-16 at the City Ground to reach the European Champions Cup final.

France scrum-half Machenaud's late penalty ended Toulon's three-year reign as European champions in a tense quarter-final and the France scrum-half led by example again with a try after only three minutes in Nottingham on Sunday.

Legendary former New Zealand fly-half Carter landed four penalties out of four and converted his skipper's try in a nervy semi-final to ensure Racing will face Saracens in their first European final in Lyon on May 14.

An out-of-sorts Tigers side were toothless and paid the price for handling errors, with Telusa Veainu scoring their only try right at the death after Freddie Burns booted a penalty before coming off with an injury in the first half and his impressive replacement Owen Williams adding eight points. 

Racing, playing their first European semi-final, were worthy winners as they fly the flag for France and remain in the hunt for a Top 14 and Champions Cup double, while Leicester's 14-year wait to be crowned European champions for a third time goes on. 

The Tigers unsurprisingly had the backing of the majority of the crowd, but it was the Racing fans in full voice when Joe Rokocoko made two incisive breaks before Machenaud barged his way over from the base of the ruck just three minutes in.

Carter converted, but was off target with a drop-goal after Johannes Goosen missed a penalty from inside his own half in a commanding start for the Parisians.

The Tigers were unable to find a way through a well drilled defence in a first foray deep into Racing territory and Carter made it 10-0 from the tee midway through the first half.  

Burns took his first chance to get the Tigers on the board with a penalty, but limped off with an ankle injury late in the first half and Williams nailed a penalty with his first kick before Carter responded with another three points just before the break.

Williams' boot reduced the deficit to 13-9 early in the second half, but the ever-reliable Carter made no mistake from the tee once again after Dan Cole was punished by referee Nigel Owens for going to ground at the scrum.

Poor handling was proving to be costly for Leicester time and again, and Racing thought they had further breathing space when Goosen rounded off a slick move on the hour-mark, but the try was ruled out for a forward pass.

The classy Carter landed a superb penalty from wide on the left to give Racing a 10-point lead seven minutes from time and although Veainu rounded off a flowing move and Williams brilliantly converted, it was too little, too late for Leicester.