Sarlat Rugby could not have hoped for better weather to open the second bloc with their second home game. Bright sun on a cool September day lit the pitch as fans hit the stands, with many making their way from lunch with the esteemed guest, Christophe Urios, manager of the Top14 team Union Bordeaux Bègles. The sun continued to shine throughout a pair of difficult games for the home team against determined visitors. However, despite a B team defeat, fans of Sarlat Rugby and Causse Vézère alike were applauding the end of the dramatic A team game!
Sarlat Rugby’s B Team Fail to Impose Themselves against Causse Vézère
Both of Causse Vézère’s teams were eager and determined to show what they could do against the as-yet undefeated Sarlat Rugby. The Green and Blue energy could be felt right off the bat as they pushed hard and, when given the opportunity in the first 5 minutes, scored a penalty against the home team, establishing a pattern that would, unfortunately for the Blue and Black teams, repeat itself frequently throughout both games.
Despite losing one push to an interception, Sarlat’s B team was determined to aim high, choosing to go for the line-out rather than kick at the goal 8 minutes in. Nevertheless, after nearly 5 minutes of intense phase play, #10 Matt Doyle ended up kicking to even the score. 3-3. Sarlat’s strong defense would continue to perform throughout the first half, but their offense too often found itself unable to capitalize. 22 minutes in, Causse Vézère scored another penalty, but Sarlat Rugby was hot on their heels with a successful maul, earning the first try of the day for #3 Boutesbih, confirmed by Doyle for a lead of 10-6.
Moments later, that lead would slip away as Causse Vézère, with a beautiful kick over the Sarlat Rugby defenders, scored their first try and the conversion. Then, despite a yellow card to the visitors, they again scored a penalty 33 minutes in.
Sarlat struggled to contain the high-impact play of their opponents, and their #1 soon earned his own yellow card, too. The home team also missed a penalty just before the whistle, making the score a disappointing 10-16 going into half-time.
Destabilized and down a player, Sarlat Rugby’s B team nevertheless headed back onto the pitch determined in the second half. Tight defense from both teams led to a slow start, but Causse Vézère capitalized on home team errors and converted two more penalties. 20 minutes in, green led 10 – 22.
However, Sarlat’s players had no desire to lose face before the town or distinguished guest. Scoring their own pair of penalties over the next 10 minutes of intense back and forth play, they managed to narrow the gap to 16-22.
Unfortunately, they then dropped the ball, literally, on a kick by Causse Vézère, and struggled to regain ground. Unable to seize the lead, the reserves saw their winning streak come to an end against Causse Vézère, with the defense bonus point as sole consolation.
Sarlat Rugby’s A Team Runs Ahead While Causse Vézère Kicks from Behind
Despite the B team’s loss, spirits were high when the A teams took to the pitch, escorted by the girls and boys of Sarlat’s Rugby School. A somber moment followed as players and fans took part in a minute of applause to remember and celebrate the memories of Mireille Juillet and Gilles Besse, club members who had passed away over the last year, and the young Sacha Mounet, a close friend of the Juniors team. Accompanied by the presidents of both teams, Christophe Urios then took to the pitch for a symbolic kick-off and the game was on.
Sarlat was given an early opportunity off a penalty, but chose to go for the line out. A strategic choice that would not immediately pay off as their maul, so effective against previous teams, was stopped short. They kept up the offense though, and #5 Ikapote Fono carried it in on the next maul. #10 Serafin Bordoli converted to put the home team in the lead 7-0.
Causse Vézère was equally determined to gain ground, however, and when given the opportunity, followed in the footsteps of their B team with a goal kick from nearly 50 meters. Their next kick, just short of the goal, cost them ground as Sarlat ran it back up until the visitor’s #8 stopped their momentum with a high tackle. This earned him the first yellow card of the game, and a penalty for Bordoli to score. 10-3 at 13 minutes.
Despite the fierce defense, Sarlat Rugby found a gap and, after a long run down the line, #11 Eroni Tuwai scored a second try for Sarlat Rugby. Then, just before the 20-minute mark, the visitors nailed another long-distance penalty to narrow the gap to 17-6. However, they seemed outmatched when Tuwai again found an opening, piercing their lines for his second try, 22-6.
Things were looking grim for the visitors but, to their credit, they did not crumble. The return of their #8 helped even the match, and they scored another penalty. The gameplay slowed, with both teams often kicking for ground. 32 minutes in, it was Causse Vézère’s turn to be charging forward when Sarlat Rugby’s #6 Remi Cardon stopped them with an illegal tackle, earning him a yellow card, and another penalty for the visitors’ strong #10 kicker, Veyssiere.
This put the score at 22-12, where it would remain until half-time, but not before both teams had earned a yellow card each as the game heated up! A solid performance for both teams, Sarlat Rugby ahead on the running game, but Causse Vézère hanging in on the kicks.
Second Half Has Sarlat and Causse Vézère Supporters on the Edge of Their Seats
Sticking to their strengths, Causse Vézère scored another penalty kick minutes into the second half. However, they found themselves unable to stop the fearsome Tuwai, as he scored another try before the 5-minute mark, converted for a score of 29 – 15. The visitors in green were not about to go down without a fight, though, and, after pushing hard up and down the line, their #7 Barry dove to score Causse Vézère’s first try of the day. 29-22 less than 10 minutes in!
With their offensive bonus now in doubt, Sarlat Rugby redoubled their efforts on the attack. Their phase play struggled to gain ground, however, and every time they did get close, Causse Vézère was able to recover and kick for breathing room. 22 minutes in, despite fresh Green and Blue players, Serafin Bordoli found an opening in the visitors’ defense and scored both a try and the conversion. 36-22.
Confident in their rugby, Sarlat continued to play the ball rather than kick it free, even when pressed back past their 22 meters. But this overconfidence came with a toll as it was exploited by Causse Vézère’s #12, who leaped to block a late kick and surged forward for a daring try, once again narrowing the lead down to only 7 points.
A long, well-aimed kick by #15 Franck Fresneda (taking full advantage of the new 50-22 rule) opened up another chance for the home team, though it was cut short by another yellow card-worthy tackle. This time, though, Sarlat took the goal kick, seeking to cement their lead 10 minutes from the end. 39 – 29.
Two minutes later, Causse Vézère’s star kicker Veyssiere, who first kicked a ball at the Sarlat Rugby School when his father played for Sarlat in his day, scored again. Audiences from both sides held their breath as the game could still go either way. Gasps echoed when Sarlat nearly scored again, only to be brought short by a forward pass fault, while Causse Vézère’s best shot at evening the score was cut short by Sarlat’s defense.
Nevertheless, when the final whistle blew, both teams’ supporters were clapping hard. Sarlat Rugby had kept their unbeaten streak with an offensive bonus to boot, and Causse Vézère had both proved they were a force to be reckoned with and earned their defensive bonus point. Final score 39-32.
Sarlat Rugby’s coach Stephane Labrousse was pleased with the 5 points earned by his team, but also made clear that “we have to be a bit less overconfident on our plays and go for the kill when close to the opponent’s try-line.”
Caption 10 – Full rosters for both Sarlat Rugby Teams against Causse Vézère