Dan Carter’s Racing 92 edge Super Rugby champions Highlanders in Natixis Cup try-fest
Dan Carter’s Racing 92 won a battle of the hemispheres when they edged Super Rugby champions the Highlanders 45-38 in a try-fest to lift the Natixis Cup in Hong Kong on Saturday.
Former All Blacks great Carter, the world player of the year, kicked a conversion before withdrawing at half-time in what became an end-to-end contest with the two teams sharing 13 tries.
Chris Masoe got the winning try for the French side after a driving maul in the dying minutes to seal the exhibition game in front of a lively crowd in the former British colony.
The trademark European move was a fitting way to settle a match billed as a clash of styles between Top 14’s Racing and the free-running Highlanders from Otago, New Zealand.
“Our driving maul was exceptional – that's something that's not appreciated maybe in the southern hemisphere,” Racing's assistant coach Ronan O'Gara told reporters.
“But in the northern hemisphere it’s a massive weapon for us.”
Highlanders co-captain Shane Christie said: “It’s a shame we couldn’t get the win because I guess there’s a bit of banter involved in [the game].
“We thought they would have driven a bit more than that,” he added. “That's obviously their strength and we've been practising to try and stop that – but they've got a really good driving maul.”
The Highlanders opened the scoring through a penalty-try before Racing, despite a yellow card to Juandre Kruger, hit back through scrum-half Xavier Chaveau to make it 7-7.
Racing took the lead when captain Francois van der Merwe went over on the left before the Highlanders, who by then had Joe Wheeler in the sin bin, came storming back through Matt Faddes.Fullback Faddes completed a sweet move to get his second and make it 21-12 at half-time, before centre Richard Buckman scored from the restart to put the Highlanders 26-12 up.
It started a flurry of tries with Marc Andreu, Chauveau and Luc Ducalcon all going over for Racing before number eight Liam Squire crossed for the Highlanders to make it 31-31.
They swapped tries yet again to make it 38-38 with 10 minutes left before Racing brought out the driving maul to put replacement Masoe over and go home with the silverware.