April 1, 2018 / 2:34 PM / 9 months ago

Rugby - Racing down Clermont to reach Champions Cup semi-finals

CLERMONT FERRAND, France (Reuters) - Racing 92 recovered from a shaky start to beat fellow French club Clermont 28-17 away and secure their spot in the last four of the Champions Cup on Sunday.

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland vs France - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - February 11, 2018 France’s Maxime Machenaud in action REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Racing, who quickly trailed 9-0, prevailed thanks to tries by Leone Nakarawa, Marc Andreu and Boris Palu with Maxime Machenaud adding three penalties and two conversions.

Three-times runners-up Clermont replied with four penalties by Morgan Parra and Peter Betham’s try.

Racing will face Munster in Bordeaux on the weekend of April 21-22 for a place in the final.

“We got off to a good start but we did not score enough and were always in their sight,” said Clermont coach Franck Azema.

Racing flyhalf Dan Carter was optimistic of his side being able to go all the way in the competition.

“It’s hard to win here but we are now in the semis and we’re super proud,” Carter said.

“One of the reasons I wanted to come to France was because I wanted to play a European competition. I chose Racing because I thought it was the team who could go the furthest.”

Clermont opened their 9-0 lead thanks to three penalties by Parra, but Nakarawa reduced the arrears when he dived over after unsettling the hosts’ defence with a fine dummy pass.

Machenaud converted and put the visitors ahead with a penalty just after the half hour.

But Racing lost focus and were immediately punished.

Parra found space in the Racing defence and set up Betham with a long pass for the wing to touch down in the corner.

Machenaud and Parra traded penalties early in the second half.

Machenaud then found Carter for the New Zealander’s offload to be collected out wide by Andreu, who scored a try.

After the reset, Carter slalomed through the Clermont defence, found Teddy Thomas who then set up Palu for Racing’s third try as the hosts looked hapless.

They thought they could threaten a comeback, but their hopes were dashed when Remi Grosso’s try was disallowed for an accidental offside.

Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge

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