Australia full-back Kurtley Beale said Saturday’s 45-19 win over Clermont was “important” in their race to the Top 14 play-offs as he scored two tries and prepared another to send his side third.
Beale’s efforts came within two minutes of each other in the first half as the Parisians passed the visitors thanks to the bonus point, with three games left of the regular season.
“It was important to have this win tonight because it puts us in a good position to go further in the competition,” said Beale.
“I’m still starting to find my place. As a team it was a great opportunity to move forward. “
Beale, 32, who made the last of his 92 appearances for the Wallabies at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, said he had yet to speak to coach Dave Rennie about a return from testing.
“I haven’t had any contact at home but it’s okay. I will continue to work hard here with Racing, ”he said.
“I am very lucky to be at a special club with special players and I will continue to work hard and hope I can do my best when the time is right. “
Racing coach Laurent Travers made 10 changes from last weekend’s home derby loss to Stade Français, seeking to avoid a fifth straight league loss.
Travers’ counterpart in Clermont, Franck Azema, who will leave after 11 years at Stade Marcel-Michelin at the end of the season, gave a first start in the Top 14 to Miles Amatosero, an 18-year-old Australian lock.
Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra opened the scoring after seven minutes before Beale’s quick brace at Paris La Defense Arena, which has also served as a vaccination center since Monday.
The former Waratahs playmaker took advantage of a nice break from Teddy Thomas for his first time before taking his count for six tries in 19 games this season on an assist from Finn Russell less soon after.
Racing led 31-19 at the break as Thomas and Kevin Le Guen crossed paths with Fijian mainstay Peni Ravai responding for Clermont.
– Russell’s head injury –
Beale became the supplier in the second half, releasing French center Gael Fickou for his first try in Racing since arriving from Stade Français last month.
Winger Donovan Taofifenua also scored as Scotsman Russell kicked off the conversion two days after being named to the British and Irish Lions squad for the summer tour of South Africa.
With eight minutes remaining, Russell left the pitch with a head injury after a tackle on Clermont’s Japanese full-back Kotaro Matushima and failed to get back on the pitch.
“He’s fine,” Beale said of Russell. “I think he just wanted to rest for 10 minutes at the end. “
Elsewhere, Elton Jantjies, a member of the 2019 World Cup-winning South African squad in Japan, scored seven points in 73 minutes on his Pau debut in the already relegated 47-7 Agen pounding.
The result saw Pau leave the relegation barrage, edging out Bayonne after the Basques lost 47-22 at home to Bordeaux-Begles.
European Champions Cup finalists La Rochelle lost 32-22 to Montpellier after making 15 changes from last weekend’s victory over Leinster.
Later, opponents of the La Rochelle Euro final at Twickenham on May 22, Toulouse, who also changed their entire starting lineup after their last four wins, head to Toulon in the last game of the day.
© 2021 AFP