The contrast is striking.
At the start of the Top 14 semi-final between La Rochelle and Racing, this Friday night in Lille, the Scottish opener of the Sky and White Finn Russell attempted several passes at the foot for his wingers, without success.
A few minutes later, at the half-hour mark, the Rochelais back Brice Dulin succeeded for Arthur Retière, with a try to the key.
That of the victory of La Rochelle (19-6).
Laurent Travers recognized it after the match: the realization of certain kicks was "approximate", otherwise, the outcome could have been different.
La Rochelle on the other hand, it was a s
ns-fault in the kicking game.
There were the penalties of Ihaia West of course (5 out of 6), the effectiveness of which the Rochelais lacked during the European Cup final against Toulouse, and which made it possible to swell the score against Racing .
"Ronan is an excellent technician, he was able to analyze our weak points"
But it is especially in the running game that the Rochelle feet have done wonders. On the offensive front, first. Before the action of the test, already, Brice Dulin had managed a candle recovered by himself, allowing his team to gain 30 m. Then, when it was necessary to concretize, his inspiration and his precision hit the mark in the 22 m of Racing 92. “These two games with the foot behind our back cornered us in our camp in the first half. We cannot cover the whole ground. They knew that we were abandoning certain areas in relation to our defensive rise, and they exploited it very well and were able to find spaces behind. We did not know how to answer that, ”admits Maxime Machenaud, captain of the Ile-de-France region.
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In the second half, La Rochelle began to defend, very well, to keep the score.
And the kicking game, on the defensive level, was also a formidable weapon, making it possible to push Racing 92 back into its camp.
“We saw that he had areas at the back of the field that were a little neglected, that's what we tried to set up,” explained Sébastien Boboul, coach of the three-quarters of La Rochelle after the match.
Brice Dulin's kicking game kept the result going.
They won the Brennus in 2016 with the Hauts-de-Seine club
"We will see the great Brice", warned Ronan O'Gara.
The Irish coach from La Rochelle was right.
Dulin was named man of the match.
The two have known and appreciated each other since meeting at Racing 92, where they spent five and six seasons, winning the Brennus Shield in 2016.
O'Gara and Dulin share, in addition to their friendship and their common experience in the Hauts-de-Seine, a science of kicking which hit the mark this Friday evening.
The former scorer of the XV du Trèfle has also started as a specialist in the game at the foot of the Sky and White.
"Ronan was part of the furniture at Racing 92, Brice too, who knows this team a little and helped us there", explained Sébastien Boboul.
Teddy Iribaren, the scrum half of Racing 92, made the same observation. “Ronan is an excellent technician. They analyzed our weak points and found them somewhat. In our coverage we were not efficient enough. They found angles on the game kicking. And Brice was at his level, he's a very good player, exceptional on high balls. Ronan and Brice have brought their paws, but it is not necessarily because they come from Racing 92. "