Racing win Top 14 title despite Machenaud red


Racing 92 were crowned Top 14 champions for the first time in 26 years after producing a heroic display to beat Toulon 29-21 despite Maxime Machenaud's first-half red card in front of a record crowd of 99,124 at Camp Nou on Friday.

Machenaud scored a decisive late penalty to dethrone Toulon in the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup back in April, but the scrum-half had a very different impact in Barcelona.

The France playmaker was given his marching orders by referee Mathieu Raynal after only 18 minutes in front of world record crowd for a club rugby match following a tip tackle on Matt Giteau.

But 14-man Racing defied the odds to seal a famous win and lift the Bouclier de Brennus' trophy for the first time since 1990.

Joe Rokocoko scored a sublime individual try midway through the second half, while Dan Carter booted 15 points and Johan Goosen added nine to seal a sixth title for a Racing side who suffered the heartbreak of losing the Champions Cup final to Saracens last month.

Mamuka Gorgodze came up with the only try of the first half and Leigh Halfpenny scored nine of his 11 points to give Toulon a 14-12 lead at the break, but they could only manage a converted Maxime Mermoz score in the second 40.

Halfpenny and Carter traded penalties before Machenaud was sensationally red-carded less than halfway through the first half.

Wales fly-half Halfpenny slotted over another two penalties and Georgia captain Gorgodze took an offload from Josua Tuisova to touch down just before the half-hour mark after Carter had made it 9-6.

Goosen and Carter added further penalties to make it a two-point game at the interval, with the former then slotting a mammoth strike from the tee through the posts to put Racing in front for the first time.

Toulon were also down to 14 when Xavier Chiocci was sent to the sin bin and rampant Racing took advantage, as Goosen was on target again before Carter added another three-pointer.

Rokocoko then produced a moment of sheer class, taking a pass on the right before showing a blistering turn of pace with a kick-and-go to race away for Racing's only try and put his side 26-14 up with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Mermoz capitalised on some slack defending to go under the posts nine minutes from time, with Halfpenny converting to ensure there were only five points in it with eight minutes to play.

However, Carter, who did not play in the Top 14 final when Perpignan were crowned champions seven years ago, fittingly had the final say by sealing an epic victory with another three-pointer right at the end.