'Lucky' Russell takes Racing into Champions Cup last four

·2-min read
Finn Russell finishes off his dazzling try against Sale (AFP/BERTRAND GUAY) (BERTRAND GUAY)

Finn Russell said he was "lucky to score a superb solo effort and set-up a try for Teddy Thomas as Racing 92 beat Sale Sharks 41-22 on Sunday to reach the European Champions Cup semi-finals.

Scotland fly-half Russell's contributions came after Racing trailed 10-6 at half time.

The Parisians will host fellow French club La Rochelle next Sunday, but the game will be in Lens because a rap concert is already booked at their La Defense Arena home.

"It obviously was all on purpose. I know what the bounce is like in the Arena," Russell jokingly told reporters about his try.

"It was a bit of luck but I'm happy to take that as a try and it takes us into the semi-final," he added.

In the other fixture next weekend, record-five time winners Toulouse will head back to Dublin to face Leinster after beating Munster on Saturday in a penalty shoot-out.

Leinster, four-time winners, eased past Leicester Tigers 23-14 earlier on.

On Sunday, on the indoor artificial surface in front of just 9,356 spectators, France Under-20 scrum-half Nolan Le Garrec kicked two early penalties.

After half an hour, the Sharks' South Africa scrum-half Faf de Klerk came close to a try but the World Cup winner knocked on while attempting to ground after his pick and go from short range.

De Klerk was then involved in the opening touchdown as his fumbled pass was gathered by England centre Manu Tuilagi 15 metres out with the clock in the red.

- Tuilagi pounces -

Tuilagi found space to canter under the posts and Du Preez's conversion made it 10-6 at the break, with the English side 40 minutes away from a first win in France since December 2012.

After the interval, Racing quickly took control with two sublime tries to take the score to 23-10 after just nine minutes of the second half.

Thomas gathered Russell's grubber before kicking the ball again to score in one movement.

Former Glasgow Warriors playmaker Russell then dived over after two volleys, with lucky bounces, which started in his own half.

The visitors responded swiftly and after a succession of pick and goes, Springboks hooker Akker van der Merwe bundled over.

With Du Preez's conversion it was a seven-point game with 25 minutes to go, before Le Garrec made it 29-17 with two penalties.

With Racing's place in the last four almost secured, Argentina winger Juan Imhoff scored to celebrate his new contract in the French capital.

Ben Curry, a second half replacement for his twin brother, Tom, claimed a consolation effort for Sale.

Young full-back Max Spring then cruised over for the hosts' fourth try in additional time.


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