ProD2 Play-offs: Lyon OU and La Rochelle on the cusp of Top 14 after semi-final victories
16 May 2010
Lyon OU will play La Rochelle in the ProD2 play-off final, with the winners securing promotion to Top 14.
Lyon, who finished second in the league, went through thanks to a 29-13 home win against Pau that takes coach Raphael Saint-André one step closer to competing against his brother (Toulon’s Philippe) in next season’s Top 14 championship.
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The hosts were always in control after Pau gifted them four penalties in the opening quarter of an hour – all gratefully kicked by Pierre-Yves Montagnat – and their superiority was further consolidated when Pau full-back Clement Fromont was harshly yellow-carded for a trip.
Lyon then ran in two tries in four minutes to all but seal the result, with fly-half Xavier Sadourny (29 mins) and scrum-half Antoine Nicoud (33) both touching down to open up a massive 24-3 half-time advantage.
Pau rallied after the interval and breathed fresh life into the contest when Gregory Puyo sped in for a 51st-minute try after an excellent break by Julien Dumora. Clement Darbo further reduced the gap with a 57th-minute penalty – making it 24-13 - as Pau enjoyed territorial domination, but Lyon finally secured the win when flanker Dorian Seve was driven over the line by his forwards with 17 minutes remaining.
Lyon will now take on La Rochelle, who they finished level on points with during the regular season. La Rochelle, playing their fourth successive semi-final, squeezed through 6-3 at home to Oyonnax thanks to a brace of second-half penalties from Benjamin Dambielle.
The victory was a near repeat of the result between these two on the final day of the regular Prod2 season, when La Rochelle won 9-6 at Oyonnax to crucially secure home advantage.
Dambielle had the first opportunity to open the scoring but was wayward with his 35m penalty in the 20th minute, while Oyonnax’s Bertrand Guilloux was also wide with an ambitious attempted drop-goal from 40m shortly after. But the visiting fly-half did eventually break the deadlock with his second attempt just three minutes before the break, this time seeing his 25m drop-goal sail through the posts.
It remained 0-3 to the away side until Dambielle levelled the scores with his 48th-minute equalizing penalty, and the La Rochelle full-back was on hand again to kick the game’s decisive penalty with just 13 minutes remaining.
Oyonnax pushed for a response of their own in the closing stages but the nearest they got was a missed drop-goal from second-half replacement Sebastien Bouillot as they just fell short.
The play-off final will now be held on May 23rd at Brive’s Stade Amédée Domenech, with the match due to kick off at 16.30.