Champions Cup: Antoine Hastoy stars in La Rochelle’s win over Ulster, Stormers claim first victory over London Irish

Planet Rugby
A 26-point masterclass from flyhalf Antoine Hastoy helped La Rochelle record their second win of the Champions Cup, defeating Ulster at the Aviva Stadium.

A 26-point masterclass from fly-half Antoine Hastoy helped La Rochelle record their second win of the Champions Cup, defeating Ulster at the Aviva Stadium.

The defending Champions Cup winners ran in three tries through Brice Dulin, Pierre Bourgarit, and Hastoy, with the pivot converting all three and adding five penalties.

For the hosts, Iain Henderson, John Cooney, Duane Vermeulen and Tom Stewart all crossed the whitewash, with Cooney adding three conversions and a penalty to earn two bonus points from the encounter. 

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Hastoy opened the scoring for La Rochelle with a penalty after just four minutes. Ulster were caught offside, and the French side’s out-half slotted another three-pointer after 14 minutes.

Hastoy slotted his third penalty four minutes later after Ulster again infringed.

Shortly afterwards, skipper Henderson was penalised at a breakdown leading to Hastoy missing the shot at goal from distance.

It got worse for Ulster, who overthrew a lineout and following Bourgarit’s charge downfield, Henderson was yellow-carded by Luke Pearce at the breakdown, and Hastoy slotted another three points to put La Rochelle 12-0 in front.

La Rochelle struck after winning yet another penalty in the 28th minute. Hastoy put a ball in behind Ulster’s defence, and Dulin got the touchdown in the corner. The try was superbly converted.

Another penalty from Hastoy after 38 minutes was rapidly followed up by the La Rochelle 10 scoring a try a minute later, which came from a mix-up in Ulster’s midfield.

Hastoy put a kick through, and the bounce eluded Cooney, gifting the score to the La Rochelle out-half. His straightforward conversion ended the half with O’Gara’s side leading 29-0.

The second half started with Ulster winning a penalty, running it, and Henderson touched down near the posts, which allowed Cooney to convert.

La Rochelle hit back after more poor discipline from Ulster led to a lineout in the 22, and though Alan O’Connor stole the throw, Bourgarit got possession for a soft score. Hastoy also converted to take the lead to 36-7.

Ulster then came back just before the hour when Cooney dived over from close range, the scrum half converting after Jonathan Danty was yellow-carded.

The Irish province now began to bring some energy to their game, and Vermeulen got on the end of Stuart McCloskey’s kick after 62 minutes for Ulster’s third touchdown, which went unconverted.

Stewart then deservedly claimed Ulster’s bonus-point try after 73 minutes from a driving maul which Cooney converted to close La Rochelle’s lead to 10.

Cooney kicked a penalty with the clock in red to bring Dan McFarland’s side a losing bonus point along with their try bonus.

London Irish suffer second defeat as Stormers secure first win

London Irish suffered a second defeat in two Champions Cup Pool B matches as they were beaten 34-14 by the Stormers at DHL Stadium.

Declan Kidney’s men, who opened their Champions Cup campaign with a 32-27 defeat to Montpellier, were 24-0 down in Cape Town when they got off the mark through Michael Willemse’s 50th-minute try.

Irish’s subsequent efforts to battle back saw Will Joseph also cross, and he and Ben White each had tries disallowed via the television match official before John Dobson’s Stormers wrapped up what is their first-ever victory in the competition.

The Stormers took the lead eight minutes into the contest when Willie Engelbrecht drove over, with Manie Libbok adding the conversion.

As Irish looked to hit back, Ben Loader broke forward but was thwarted by a great Deon Fourie tackle just before making the try line.

Two minutes later, the hosts thought they had extended their lead with Salmaan Moerat finishing off a fine team move, but the TMO disallowed the effort for a forward pass.

Libbok then added a simple penalty to put the Stormers 10-0 up in the closing stages of the first half before two tries in quick succession early in the second put the United Rugby Championship title-holders in a really strong position.

Irish were punished as Joe Powell misjudged his attempt to catch a high ball, and Leolin Zas handed it to Hacjivah Dayimani, who sprinted home. Zas then added a try of his own moments later, with Libbok converting on both occasions.

Soon after, Irish got points on the board as a rolling maul allowed Willemse to touch down, with Paddy Jackson nailing the conversion.

Libbok put the Stormers 20 points ahead again with another penalty on the hour mark before further Irish pressure saw replacement White cross, only for the TMO to rule he had lost the ball when tackled by Angelo Davids.

Irish continued to press, and Joseph touched down in the 73rd minute, with Jackson converting, then appeared to add another try four minutes later – but again, the TMO intervened, and it was disallowed for a push by the centre.

The Stormers subsequently secured a bonus point in the final seconds as Junior Pokomela registered their fourth try, Libbok again converting.

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