Only victory is beautiful. The refrain is known, and particularly sensitive to La Rochelle ears this Saturday. Indeed, if the manner was not really there for this 6th day of Top 14, the success won against Bayonne (18-15) is worth a lot from an accounting point of view. In the ranking, La Rochelle took the opportunity to move up to 10th place, just ahead of... Bayonnais.
In the rain at Marcel-Deflandre, the match came down to a duel between the two official scorers, Antoine Hastoy on the Yellow and Black side, Camille Lopez on the Ciel et Blanc side. Back from the World Cup, like Jonathan Danty and Paul Boudehent, the La Rochelle flyhalf opened the hostilities by converting three penalties in the first ten minutes (4th, 7th and 9th). At 9-0, the Maritimes seemed launched but the visitors reacted perfectly, offering some play despite the difficult conditions. Grégory Patat's men could also count on the reliability of their number 10 to achieve their good streaks. Thanks to three kicks (14th, 18th and 32nd), including a drop, Camille Lopez reset the counters to zero (9-9). Apart from two situations for Teddy Thomas, sought in the back by Hastoy, Stade Rochelais could not find the solutions on the outside, being content to take the points against the poles.
Following his first failure just before the break, Hastoy set the sights after returning from the locker room (12-9, 46th), imitated by his counterpart Lopez, precise from long distance (12-12, 49th) despite a miss on a drop difficult. Since the match remained locked down, the fault of numerous losses of balls and technical inaccuracies, the mano a mano would continue. Bayonne will have led six minutes before Hastoy's equalizer (15-15, 70th) and the money-time in favor of the Maritimes, who have invested the opposing camp. Their scorer, author of fifteen points at 5/7, gave way to young Hugo Reus, U20 world champion with the French XV this summer. A wise choice from Ronan O’Gara. Thanks to a final effort from the La Rochelle scrum, embodied by the internationals Uini Atonio and Pierre Bourgarit who entered for the second half, the Marcel-Deflandre public held their breath. Shifted about forty meters to the right, the 19-year-old left-hander did not tremble to give victory to his team which badly needed it (18-15, 80th)
With this second success of the season, narrow but oh so important, Stade Rochelais takes a deep breath and will try to continue next Sunday, at home, against Union Bordeaux-Bègles. Bayonne recorded its third away defeat and will undoubtedly harbor regrets, at the end of an interesting but unfinished performance despite the defensive bonus point gleaned.