Fervor turned to amazement. Once again the master taught the student the lesson. Once again, La Rochelle, eternal dolphin, bowed to its king, Toulouse, who constantly sent him back to his studies (20-16). But there was noise, fire and life in this Top 14 recovery and that’s the main thing.
The Marcel-Deflandre stadium has rediscovered its crazy atmospheres. Sold out. As before the Covid-19 pandemic. Sixteen thousand spectators shout their happiness at the entrance of the artists. Artists who took center stage last season, in France and across Europe. The Rochelais, obviously, receive the biggest ovations. Will they finally bite into the Toulouse ogre, who devoured them in the final of the European Cup (22-17) then the French championship (18-8), the last game of the Maritimes before this Sunday, day of resumption of the Top 14, party night? Alldritt, the captain, Bourgarit, the hooker, are unleashed. From the start they set a hell of a pace, refusing to attempt penalties to afford penalty kicks. It sets the tone, it enchants the public, but it is not really rewarded and Toulouse, the only team to have won on this lawn for two years – last season – takes the lead.
The champion entered the scene with his best actors. Dupont, Ntamack, Ramos, Médard, Lebel, Tauzin, Baille or Cros close ranks, without frills, but with a realism that gives the public a cold sweat. “It was padlocked, we did not make the game of the year but victory is important,” said Antoine Dupont, still untenable in defense. “We had no real doubts because we knew it would be difficult to start in La Rochelle with the return of the public, but we did our best,” added opener Romain Ntamack.
It’s just before playing time that the bronca goes up a notch. Second row giant Skelton’s shoulder hit the head of his opposite Arnold on a high tackle. The expulsion is automatic (57th). The ghosts of Twickenham where the Rochelais had let slip the European title to 14 against 15 emerge suddenly. Four points ahead (16-12) with more than twenty minutes left, the advantage seems slim. Especially when geniuses roam the field. Romain Ntamack calls the ball sixty meters from the opposing line. He saw a hole, he rushed into it, and went to flatten a high-class try (66th).
🗨️ “This is the panache!” Romain Ntamack’s breakthrough and test fifteen minutes from the end! Toulouse goes ahead! 🔥 #SRST pic.twitter.com/SFog34AQOH
The people of Toulouse are still the bosses. “There must be something when we play against them, cowardly, annoyed, the Rochelais captain Romain Sazy. We didn’t do things in the right order. “