A standing ovation awaited the boys in Blue and Black when the referee whistled the end of their clash against Bergerac. Not only had Sarlat Rugby beaten their closest competitor in the bracket, but they had done so in style. Gratifying indeed for the fans who had made the trip, especially after a B team was robbed of their victory in the very final moments of a surprising game. There is no doubt now; Sarlat’s rugby project is in full swing, and it is only gaining momentum.
Sarlat Rugby and Bergerac Tie in Dramatic B Team Game
After their first loss against Causse Vézère last week at home, Sarlat Rugby’s B team hit the Gaston Simounet Stadium pitch running. Bergerac’s team also had something to prove, however. Having lost more games than they had won so far, they needed to live up to their A team’s unbroken record.
Sarlat put the pressure on fast, getting an early penalty and going for the line out within the first minute. Bergerac’s defense held strong, however, and Sarlat opted for the goal kick at the next penalty, letting #9 Matt Doyle open the score. Their aggression continued to offer up opportunities, but it wasn’t until the 12th minute that #11, Derex, finally carried the ball in for the first try of the day. 0-10 after the conversion. Bergerac was not idle, however, and kicked one penalty off a botched reception, and two more over the next 10 minutes, scoring two out of three to bring the score to 6-10 before the 20-minute mark.
Then the home team went on the offensive. Sarlat was barely able to stop a strong push at the 23rd minute and found themselves playing in their 22 meters soon after. Unfortunately for the home team, the visitors’ defense was on point, even though their own offensive pushes were often fumbled. Both teams had received one yellow card by the 37th minute when Bergerac made another clean break through the Sarlat lines, only to be stopped short in the final meters. On the return, though, one of Sarlat’s players neatly kicked the ball over the defenders in white, and #13 Antoine Delmas charged forward to run deep and score. 6-15 going into halftime.
B team second half full of surprises!
In the second half, Bergerac was the first to open the score, hitting a penalty cleanly through the posts. Sarlat Rugby’s B team roared back with a breakthrough by #7 Dupont and #13 Perica, who was stopped only by a penalty-worthy tackle. They kicked for the line out, and the resulting maul was pushed in, allowing # 2 Chauffour to score a try, though they missed the conversion. Seven minutes into the second half and already the score was 9-20 for the visitors.
Dropped balls and surrendered possessions racked up for both teams, but Bergerac was the first to to take advantage when Sarlat lost possession in their 22. After a few ineffective pushes, Bergerac’s #8 Chevalier found a gap and scored the home team’s first try of the day, while Saralt’s #4 Granger had to leave the pitch injured. Both teams pushed hard, but a foul cost Bergerac a penalty, 16-23 going into the final ten minutes.
Things seem to be going well for Sarlat Rugby, though a high kick by #9 Matt Doyle failed to gain ground. Another intercepted pass let SR push up, but a missed pass of their own cost them their shot at the offensive bonus point in the final stretch. Worse still, at the 39th minute, Perica received a yellow card and, when Bergerac kicked for a line out, the blue and black line finally cracked. The home team tied up the score with mere seconds left on the clock, finishing 23-23 in a stunning and surprising finale to an action-packed game.
Sarlat Rugby’s A Team dominates the first half against a destabilized Bergerac
After the B team’s tie, tension was even thicker in the air at Bergerac’s Gaston Simounet Stadium. Fans from both sides applauded a short presentation and even shorter kick-off by the city’s head of health for Pink October (to raise awareness for breast cancer prevention), but it was the starting whistle they were waiting for. Almost immediately, however, Bergerac dropped the ball and a penalty in the ensuing scrum gave #10 Serafin Bordoli the chance to open the score 0-3 for Sarlat Rugby.
Despite an early lead, things looked a little shaky at first for the visitors in Blue and Black. Sarlat let Bergerac gain tons of ground off a dropped pass, a too distant kick cost them a line out, and a too short kick cost them possession.
Unfortunately for Bergerac, they were looking even worse. A critical fumble cost them possession inside their own 22 and, after a series of chaotic pushes, it was Sarlat Rugby’s #9 Theo Entraygues who scored. After Bordoli converted, it was 10 points in 10 minutes. Not a bad start, after all.
When Bordoli next kicked it deep, and Bergerac dropped the ball, the audience could tell Bergerac was playing well below their best. Sarlat Rugby, on the other hand, was excelling. Out of the resulting scrum, Sarlat spread as if to go left, but Entraygues carried it right with a pass for #11 Eroni Tuwai, who scored right up against the line. You could tell the team had been preparing hard for the game. Doubly so when Bordoli nailed the tricky conversion. 0-17.
Bergerac didn’t give up, however, and tried to push back. They took a line out close to the Sarlat try-line off a penalty, knowing they had a big gap to fill, but their maul fell short. Their phase play ran into similarly thick defense until it ran straight off the pitch. Dropped balls allowed the visitors to recover possession, and tensions grew as the home team’s frustration started to show.
Bergerac’s #4 and Sarlat’s #10 Bordoli both had to cool down off the pitch with yellow cards, but Sarlat was still able to score a penalty minutes later thanks to #9 Theo Entraygues. He then landed another when a push by #12 Hemani Paea and #14 Vincent Pageneau was brought down by a penalty. 0-23 with less than 10 minutes left for the first half.
Bergerac did manage to body-block a Sarlat kick, but a forward cost them what could have been a beautiful long-run try. Luckily, they found room for a clever kick down the line on the subsequent push, bypassing Sarlat Rugby’s defenders to let Loic Havard score. Unfortunately, they then surrendered a penalty just before the whistle blew on a decisive halftime, 7-26.
Bergerac Buckles and Sarlat Rugby Builds Momentum
When the second half got underway, it didn’t take long for Sarlat to take advantage of a dropped ball. Kicking it forward and gaining ground off Tuwai’s explosive speed, the Blue and Black pushed for a line out. But, unfortunately, their resulting phase play was halted.
After a halftime morale boost for the home team with the presentation of the adorable children of their acclaimed rugby school, Bergerac was coming into the second half with their heads held high. With the sun now in Sarlat’s eyes, would the powerful visitors be able to keep up their streak? Things were certainly looking that way and, when Sarlat missed the penalty goal kick, the Black and White home team was looking like it might make a comeback.
With renewed vigor, Bergerac again went for the line out. This time, however, the Black and White found themselves having to attempt it again and again; a total of 5 times in 10 minutes. Finally, their #19 Benoit Casagrande was able to score for the home team off a successful maul, but they missed the conversion. Unfortunately, shortly afterward, each team again received a yellow card, including Sarlat’s #13 Cyril Carriere.
Despite this, Sarlat Rugby’s strategy seemed to be working when they kicked again for a line out and pulled off the maul. Twenty-six minutes in, #12 Hemani Paea found an opportunity with a quick pass to Bordoli for the try. And while they missed the conversion, things were looking increasingly grim for the home team, nearly 20 points behind with less than 20 minutes left on the clock.
With tensions high, both teams kicked for breathing room. But Sarlat Rugby didn’t let anything through, even when play was pushed into their 22m zone.
Wanting to shake things up and take up the attack again, Sarlat then switched out Paea and Entraygues in the final 5 minutes for Caneda and Louis Boyer. And while his bold kicked pass fails to land, Bordoli proved himself a top-notch playmaker when he blocked a kick, tapped the ball forward, and carried it in for a final try at the tail end of the match. 12-38 when the final whistle blew, drowned out by Sarlat fans’ applause. It was a stunning win for Sarlat against a team they knew would be tough to beat.
Coaches and Players Celebrate an Important Win for Sarlat
While home team mistakes certainly helped, Sarlat Rugby can also be proud of a cleaner game, with fewer penalties (not a single Bergerac goal kick was surrendered) after those had nearly cost them the game against Causse Vézère. Whatever the coaches worked on this week to help refine the game certainly seems to be working!
Indeed, after the game, defense coach David Ellis (who once coached Bergerac when they were in Federale 1) agreed: “the things that we worked on in training on Wednesday were adhered to by the players and constantly put Bergerac under pressure! It was certainly our most complete performance of the season so far. Not perfect, but going in the right direction !”
Coach Stéphane Labrousse added “It was a very good outcome against a direct competitor for the top two spots in the bracket. In terms of gameplay, we were solid on the basics, now we just have to prepare seriously for the next game to finish the bloc well”
This 5th consecutive victory could not come at a better time either. Not only does it help break the deadlock near the top of the bracket, but after Rochefort’s loss to Causse Vézère, Sarlat Rugby’s victory makes them the only undefeated team. As a clear favorite for the Federale 2’s bracket 8, there is no doubt that the Blue and Black team is on the right trajectory now.