Never two without three ?
Not for Racing 92. On Saturday, in the semi-final of the 2019-2020 Champions Cup, Racing 92 won for the first time in a playoff match against the Saracens (19-15), after losing in the quarterfinals in 2015 and in the final in 2016. The Altoséquanais club therefore qualifies for its third continental final after 2016 and 2018. Saturday, in front of 1,000 people authorized to come to Paris La Défense Arena, Laurent Travers' players were suffocated, padlocked by the English, formidable efficiency if not brilliant.
But they managed, in extremis, to register the only try of the match, by Imhoff (77th), who sealed their victory.
On October 17, in a location that remains to be determined, Racing will challenge Toulouse or Exeter, who face each other this Saturday.
However, the "Sarries" camped entry into the camp of the Racingmen, who were struggling to clear themselves cleanly.
Sanconnie was struck from the start after a tackle on Goode (3rd), forced to give way to Chouzenoux.
The Parisians did try a few shots, but each time they stumbled against a thick defensive curtain well in place.
But Itoje was at fault in a regroup, which allowed Iribaren to open the scoring (3-0, 11th).
On a new English fault, the number 9 and captain missed the sights this time (13th).
While the two teams engaged in an intense standoff, Goode in turn passed a penalty (3-3, 24th) after a strong English time in the opposing 22m.
Faithful to themselves, the Saracens applied their strategy to the letter: put pressure on the opponent and wait until he cracks, that he concedes penalties.
Three times, Teddy Thomas was at fault on high balls.
At the half-hour mark, the Racingmen were cornered in their camp and conceded a new penalty, on a late support in a ruck, after trying to launch a block.
Goode was not asking too much to pass three points (3-6, 30th).
But in the process, after a good scratch from Ben Arous, Iribaren put the two teams tied (6-6, 32nd).
Just before the break, Racing managed to take a slight advantage (9-6, 40th), following an action triggered by a good kick to be followed by Teddy Thomas.
An advantage canceled upon return from the locker room, because of a voluntary forward from Claassen (9-9, 43rd).
The Saracens, sharper, took the advantage in impacts and in closed scrum, collecting three new points thanks to Goode, impeccable (9-12, 48th).
Well in place under the high balloons and imperturbable in defense, the English blocked all the Ile-de-France offensives.
Like this new kick to be followed by Teddy Thomas, perfectly captured by Goode (50th).
The melee of Ciel et Blanc then pitched strongly and the opener of Saracens, brilliant replacement of suspended Owen Farrell, quietly investigated three new points (9-15, 53rd).
Morris, author of a superb breakthrough, nevertheless failed to materialize with a test (55th).
Big fear for the Racingmen.
In the process, the English created a new big opportunity, without succeeding in scoring (58th).
Entered instead of Iribaren, Machenaud reduced the mark for the locals (12-15, 69th).
A superb recovery from the Racingmen was unfortunately spoiled by a forward from Imhoff (70th)… After a huge push in melee, the Ile-de-France residents recovered the introduction 5 m from the English end-goal.
But in the process, a new forward, from Klemenczak, came to spoil everything (72nd) ... Before Imhoff delivered the Arena by scoring the victory try, after a little gem of a kick to be followed by Russell for Vakatawa.
Deliverance, after much suffering (19-15, 77th).
The European adventure - finally that of last season - therefore continues Racing.
Lautrent Travers, manager of Ciel et Blanc, therefore still has three goals: this European Cup, the next one which will start in December and the Top 14. For the Saracens, dreams of a fourth continental title are over.
They will go to purgatory without having won a new trophy: relegated to the second division and deprived of the next European Cup, after having been at the heart of the biggest scandal that has hit English rugby (repeated irregularities concerning the salary cap).
There is ultimately a moral to this whole story ...
Racing-Saracens: the colossal challenge of Ciel et Blanc