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Tuesday Sep 3, 2019

Brilliant hands sets up first La Rochelle win under Ronan O'Gara

Last year’s beaten Top 14 finalists La Rochelle recorded their first win of the new season with a cagey performance at home to Stade Français. The hosts survived a late fightback from the Parisian side to secure a narrow 28-26 victory.

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The two sides were evenly matched throughout a competitive first half, with the home side edging into a 20-14 lead at the break courtesy of tries Jone Qovu and Pierre Aguillon.

The visitors bagged a brace of tries themselves: a penalty try which resulted in Jeremy Sinzelle being sin-binned followed by Kylan Hamdoui’s effort five minutes later.

Of the tries, Aguillon’s effort was undoubtedly the pick of the bunch. It’s featured in the Top 14’s top 5 tries of the weekend.

Stade’s rush defence was an effective tool for much of the game and with La Rochelle pressing deep in their 22 on the brink of half-time, the visitors were keen to stub out a final attack of the half.

Quick hands and simple heads up rugby was the key for La Rochelle, who combined brilliantly between full-back Sinzelle, who came into the line, and hooker Jean-Charles Oriola to free up space for winger Retière’s final pass to Aguillon.

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This gave the hosts a 28-14 lead heading into the final minutes, but Stade admirably fought back to score two late consolation tries from Jonathan Danty and a second from Hamdoui.

Had Stade managed to find their second half form earlier, they could have made more of a fight of it, but for Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle the first win of the season was well earned in the end.

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