Just over a week ago, both Sarlat Rugby teams lost to the leaders of their bracket –Lormont– a frustrating situation they were keen not to repeat. This weekend, coming home from the Haute-Vienne they had two victories against St-Yrieix under their belt instead.
Under the captaincy of Quentin Wallois, Sarlat Rugby’s B team played to their strengths. Led by the dynamic duo of Mathieu Repetto and Marcel Socaciu they pulled off a well coordinated 11- 22 victory against the home team. Jonathan Laporte, who only recently got his license, joined them on the pitch for the first time in Sarlat’s iconic black and blue. Stay tuned for the summary of that game tomorrow!
Up against St Yrieix, the “Red Lantern” of the bracket, Sarlat Rugby could expect a tough competition. This was the locals first home game, and they had a lot to prove to their fans. A goal they set out to accomplish immediately, opening the score barely two minutes into the game; a kick by Dumas off a penalty gave them the 3-0 lead.
Yet it was Sarlat Rugby who would come to dominate the first half of the game, coming out on top of St Yrieix in almost every struggle. Their heads were in the game and they managed alternating plays well and found a smooth sense of fluidity that had been missing in their previous game. Serafin Bordoli, with the best performance since his arrival, tied up the teams just over 10 minutes later. 3-3.
Sarlat Rugby pushed the local team hard with repeated mauls, and showed good presence in the key struggles around the ball and offered strong plays. When they picked up the ball after a turnover on the breakdown and got it into the hands of Achille Massignac who managed to slide past a one-on-one confrontation with virtually no room to spare to score. Bordoli nails the conversion from the side-line to bring the score to 3-10.
Duman, the kicker for the local team, brings his team back into the game, 6-10. Fifteen minutes later during one of Sarlat Rugby’s surges, their opener kicked a picture perfect pass to Eroni Tuwai for Sarlat’s second try of the day. With another conversion pulled off, the score at the end of the first half reflected the dynamic of the game, 6-17.
Pride stung, St-Yrieix came back on to the pitch determined not to roll over. More determined in each confrontation, and full of initiative they danced passed a sleepy Sarlat Rugby defence. Again in just 2 minutes they managed to score, bringing it up 9-17, but that was only the start! In under ten minutes they would have two tries, and take the lead.
The first was carried in by St Yrieix winger Mendy who caught a kicked pass of his own to carry the ball past Sarlat Rugby’s try line. The second by third row Nony, who ducked and dodged his way through to score just under the goal posts. With only one conversion, the locals now took the lead 21-17, to the intense joy of local fans caught up in the surprising turn of events.
The winds had changed, and the pessimists were already predicting that Sarlat Rugby had stolen defeat from the jaws of victory. But the players showed none of the fatalism, and just as they had against Causse-Vézère, the Salamander would awaken in the final 15 minutes of play. With a fine show of solidarity and character, and a smart series of substitutions from the rich bench, coach and team were able to bring back the heat and get their hands on the ball.
After intense struggle by both teams determined to seal or steal their victory, a penalty near the final minutes offered Sarlat Rugby a chance. They could have had Bordoli kick it in for another 3 points to narrow the lead, but instead they tapped it and went for the win! Their first attempt fell apart mere meters from the line, but their second, an unstoppable maul carried the prop Puyraud past the line. 21-24.
The locals gave it their all, but now the Sarlat Rugby defense had woken up and held strong, managing to stop just in time a 30 meter push that got many in the audience on their feet! Sarlat held on to the victory they seemed promised in the first half, and almost lost in the second.
Their work done, despite the complicated game, Stéphane Labrousse’s players helped solidify their spot on the leaderboard. Behind only Lormont and Bergerac who are one game behind, and tied with Tulle, Sarlat Rugby is in a strong third place.
A victory next weekend against Arpajon at the Christian Goumondie Stadium would go a long way to anchor their spot, or help them move up. Either way the week after will be a well earned weekend off to let the players recover and prepare for the many games to come.
Referee : Jimmy Sauvage (Comité Ile de France)
Puyraud. Olluyn ©. Pardo. R.Carrière. Fono. Fontenay. Lacoste. Dupont-Butez. (m) Boyer. (o) Bordoli. Tuwai. Delmas. C.Carrière. Massignac. L.Pontagnier.
Substitutions : Puyraud. Dybich. Okriashvili. Granger. E.Pontagnier.