Bourgoin book ECC final date with Saints

Bourgoin will face Northampton Saints in the final of the European Challenge Cup following a hard-fought 22-11 victory over Worcester Warriors.


Worcester wing Miles Benjamin scored a late try but French scrum-half Morgan Parra booted 17 points to add to Coenraad Basson’s second half try and deny Mike Ruddock’s men the prospect of an All-English final.

The French side caused a shock in the quarter-final after beating tournament favourites London Irish and the 1997 champions produced another excellent performance at a sun-kissed Stade Pierre Rajon.


This competition offers a route into next year’s Heineken Cup and Worcester welcomed back skipper Pat Sanderson along with Greg Rawlinson, Dale Rasmussen and Ryan Powell.


Bourgoin dominated the early possession and territory and held a clear edge in the scrum. And that front five power at the set-piece laid the platform for French scrum-half Morgan Parra to convert a ninth minute penalty.


The hosts nearly extended their slender lead in the 11th minute when Benjamin Boyet’s kick through hit the corner flag in the right corner but the television match official spotted that full-back Florian Denos failed to ground the ball.


Bourgoin continued to pile on the pressure in a competitive contest but last year’s finalists Worcester came closest to breaking the deadlock at the end of the opening quarter.


Netani Talei secured excellent line-out ball and after the Fijian number eight and Callum Black probed for the try line, hooker Aleki Lutui was held up by Parra and Boyet.


Worcester levelled the tie in the 28th minute through Joe Carlisle’s close-range penalty after Irish official Peter Fitzgibbon deemed the home side to be offside.


Then Mike Ruddock’s men, with the wind at their backs, took the lead six minutes later through left-footed Carlisle’s second penalty from just inside his own half.


Worcester lost Rawlinson through injury after 36 minutes but wasted a rare chance to attack a minute later when All Black Rico Gear fumbled the ball following Talei’s rampaging run.


But the Guinness Premiership outfit weathered another period of Bourgoin danger in the final few minutes of the half to gain a narrow 6-3 advantage at the break


Parra handed Bourgoin the perfect riposte two minutes after the re-start with a 40-metre penalty before he claimed a hat-trick of penalty goals in the 51st minute to regain the lead for the hosts.


The French side inched further ahead with Parra’s fourth successful penalty in the 57th minute before Boyet added a superb 47-metre drop goal.


Then Bourgoin sealed victory when lock Coenraad Basson touched down in the left corner after excellent approach play by Rudi Coetzee while Parra added the conversion.


Benjamin grabbed a late consolation for Worcester but the damage had already been done by the French side’s 19 unanswered points in 21 second-half minutes.


With thanks to ERC Rugby.

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