Bourgoin set up final date with Saints
May 2, 2009
Bourgoin lock Coenie Basson crashes over to score
© Getty Images
Bourgoin powered past Worcester 22-11 in their European Challenge Cup semi-final at the Stade Pierre Rajon, France scrum-half Morgan Parra orchestrating a superb performance to set up a date with Northampton in the final.
Bourgoin dominated possession in the early stages, the home crowd providing a noisy backdrop as their side looked to stretch the visitors. Warriors centre Dale Rasmussen was conspicuous in defence, marshalling the line well. A penalty from Bourgoin scrum-half Morgan Parra opened the scoring early on before wing Rudi Coetzee was denied a try by the TMO after the ball bounced in goal off the corner flag.
Worcester had their first scoring chance after Bourgoin were guilty of some slack play close to their line, securing ball from a lineout five metres out and piling towards the line. Referee Peter Fitzgibbon ruled that the ball was held up in a ruck of bodies after conference with the TMO. Fly-half Joe Carlisle then slotted an easy penalty to draw the scores level as the half-hour mark approached and added a second from long range shortly after.
Bourgoin thought that they had scored follwoing a powerful forward surge, their pack splintering the Worcester scrum five metres out. Yann Labrit believed that he had scored following some good control at the base, but the TMO controversially ruled that he had knocked on short of the line.
Bourgoin cranked up the pressure again in the second period and enjoyed the overwhelming majority of possession, Parra kicking a second penalty to draw the scores level before re-taking the lead for his side with a third well-judged effort. Parra's kicking began to open some daylight, his fourth kick allowing Bourgoin a six point lead as Worcester's discipline let them down.
Roared on by the home crowd Bourgoin took a stranglehold on the game, with Benjamin Boyet landing a long range drop-goal before the Warriors' line was finally breached. Following relentless pressure and some good handling lock Coenie Basson crashed over in the corner, leaving Parra with a difficult conversion that he dispatched with aplomb.
Worcester tried manfully in the closing stages, but their accuracy let them down in the face of some structured Bourgoin defence. Their effort was eventually rewarded however by some powerful running from the lively Miles Benjamin, who took the initiative himself and powered through several tackles to score a deserved consolation. Worcester continued to press but the clock was on the side of Bourgoin, and it was fittingly Parra who heaved the ball in to touch at the final whistle.
Worcester captain Pat Sanderson could not hide his disappointment after his side's defeat. "It would have been great to make the final so there is obvious disappointment in the dressing room right now. But you can't fault the character of the lads. European rugby is a different brand of rugby and a whole different intensity and physicality.
"Bourgoin had that in bucket loads and we didn't quite have the firepower to come back at them. The injuries didn't help us. We had players playing out of position in the front row and that showed in the first half. But credit to them for playing out of position and hanging in there. There's no criticism to level towards them because Bourgoin were excellent in that area and made their dominance tell. We've got no excuses.
"We had opportunities but we didn't take them. We spoke about it at half-time and said we would create another chance. But we had to make sure we nailed them. Bourgoin came out fighting and their half-backs, Parra and Benjamin Boyet, were outstanding. They showed a good level of maturity and controlled the game really well. It was very difficult for us to play but that's why they are world-class players."
Bourgoin: Florian Denos, David Janin, Matias Viazzo, Yann David, Rudi Coetzee, Benjamin Boyet, Morgan Parra, Arnaud Tchougong, Jean-Philippe Genevois, Karena Wihongi, Coenraad Basson, Camille Levast, Julien Frier (capt), Wessel Jooste, Yann Labrit
Replacements: Rémy Vigneaux, Pablo Cardinali, Thomas Genevois, Sylvain Nicolas, Mickaël Forest, Anthony Forest, Sebastien Laloo
Worcester: Rico Gear, Charlie Fellows, Alex Grove, Dale Rasmussen, Miles Benjamin, Joe Carlisle, Ryan Powell, Callum Black, Aleki Lutui, Darren Morris, Greg Rawlinson, Kitch Kitchener, Tom Wood, Pat Sanderson (capt), Netani Talei
Replacements: Shaun Ruwers, Chris Fortey, Will Bowley, James Collins, Matt Powell, Greg King, Michael Penn
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside