Dan Carter kicked 11 points as Racing 92 overcame Leicester Tigers 19-16 in Nottingham
The Parisians will now face Saracens in the final on the 14th May
Racing led 13-6 at the break thanks to Maxime Machenaud’s try combined with the boot of Carter
Another kick from Carter and long-range penalty from Johan Goosen secured the victory
New Zealand legend Dan Carter kicked Racing 92 into their first European Champions Cup final as they dispatched Leicester Tigers in Nottingham on Sunday.
Carter already boasts four Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, nine Rugby Championship victories and the 2015 World Cup triumph with New Zealand – but he is in Europe to claim the Champions Cup and French Top 14. He said: “It’s an amazing achievement. This competition was a big part of the reason I wanted to come and play in France. We knew it would come down to the last minute because Leicester are a quality side, very fit.
“Winning the final would be a dream come true. It’s been an amazing four and a half months, but that would top things off. Saracens are a quality side, the form side of the tournament, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Only Saracens now stand between Carter and part one of that northern hemisphere club trophy hunt, with Racing into their first top-tier European final in Lyon on May 14.
At the break Tigers were actually still in the game, trailing just 13-6 despite Racing’s dominance.
The Parisians opened the try scoring after just four minutes through Maxime Machenaud with Carter making up their tally from the tee. Meanwhile, Freddie Burns and Owen Williams slotted a penalty apiece to keep Leicester in touch.
Carter and Williams traded penalties again after the restart before the French sides colossal defence again surfaced to keep out whatever the Tigers through at them.
The French giants, against the run of play, then secured the win and their place in the final when Johan Goosen stepped up from long range to dissect the posts.
Telusa Veainu did score a late try for Leicester with Williams converting to cut Racing’s lead to three points, but the French giants held on to secure their first ever Champions Cup final appearance.
Leicester had the home country advantage, but it was Racing who struck first in Nottingham with Machenaud burrowing over for the opening try after some great work from former All Black wing Joe Rokocoko.
And Dan Carter made no mistake with the conversion to give the French side a seven-point lead with four minutes on the clock.
The legendary Kiwi fly-half then traded penalties with Freddie Burns as Racing continued to hold a seven-point lead, 3-10.
Owen Williams’ first act after coming on for Burns was to knock over a three-pointer, but Carter reinstated Racing’s seven-point lead seconds before half-time.
Williams and Carter again traded penalties after the restart as the game continued to be a closely-fought affair, 9-16.
Racing then soaked up a fair bit of Leicester pressure. However, the French giants finally got out of their half and won a penalty. Up stepped Goosen for a long range effort and he didn’t miss as he extended the French side’s lead to ten points.
Veainu went over for a try late on, which Williams converted but it proved too little, too late for Tigers.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Racing 92: Maxime Machenaud
Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait (c), 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Tom Croft, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Adam Thompstone
Racing: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Johan Goosen, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Virgile Lacombe, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Khatchik Vartanov, 18 Luc Ducalcon, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Antonie Claassen, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Rémi Talès, 23 Louis Dupichot
Date: Sunday, April 24
Venue: The City Ground, Nottingham
Kick-off: 15:15 BST (14:15 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)