Racing and Kolisi cruise past Oyonnax to extend Top 14 lead

Racing92’s French scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec (C) runs with the ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match between Racing 92 and Union Sportive Oyonnax Rugby at the Paris La Defense Arena, in Nanterre, on December 23, 2023. AFP

Siya Kolisi’s Racing 92 hammered promoted Oyonnax 66-10 on Saturday to move three points clear at the summit of the French Top 14.

Kolisi, South Africa’s double World Cup-winning captain, played the whole game as the Parisian club won for the first time in three matches, a run that included two defeats in the Champions Cup.

Scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec, 21, scored a hat-trick for Racing, furthering his case for inclusion in France’s Six Nations squad next month.

“We’re pleased with his progress, he’s still a young player. We would miss him but I hope he does get called up,” Racing head coach Stuart Lancaster told reporters.

“Overall, I’m delighted to finish with a scoreline like that and get a bonus point,” Lancaster added.

Racing led 14-3 at half-time as scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec crossed twice following an early penalty by Oyonnax’s Argentina fly-half Domingo Miotti.

Racing, the six-time French champions, ran away after the break as Le Garrec completed  his first career hat-trick.

Tries from lock Fabien Sanconnie, former Oyonnax prop Thomas Laclayat, back-rower Maxime Baudonne with two tries, winger Christian Wade and centre Olivier Klemenczak completed the rout.

Le Garrec’s performance increased the hype around the half-back with first-choice France scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont missing from the Six Nations due to his commitment to France’s Sevens squad at the Paris Olympics and Baptiste Serin injured.

Turkey for Christmas

Elsewhere, bottom side Montpellier claimed their first league victory since August 20 and the opening round of the season as they beat Castres 30-21.

“We won the right to make the most of the turkey,” Montpellier head coach Patrice Collazo said of their final game before Christmas.

“This win is worth a lot in terms of what is symbolises,” Collazo added.

Fiji’s 2020 Olympic gold medallist Aminiasi Tuimaba opened his account for the season to send surprising Pau second in the table with a 22-11 victory over Clermont.

Former New Zealand lock Sam Whitelock is still waiting for his Pau debut after suffering a concussion last week.

Champions Cup holders La Rochelle, like Racing, had lost their two opening games in the tournament but were unable to rebound as they lost to Stade Francais, who moved up to third with a 18-13 win.

Next up for out of form, ninth-placed La Rochelle is Toulouse next Saturday, in a repeat of last season’s Top 14 final.

“They are always dangerous,” La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara told reporters.

“We’re far behind the top of the table but at the same time it can change quickly, but things have to change for us to perform well, right now we’re too inaccurate, but I remain confident,” the former Ireland fly-half added.

Later, France skipper Dupont leads star-studded Toulouse against Toulon in front of a sold-out Le Stadium.

On Friday, Congolese winger Madosh Tambwe crossed for his second try of the campaign as Bordeaux-Begles beat 46-10 Lyon to keep up the pace with Racing.

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