Life's no beach for Carter as Racing triumph

Dan Carter (Getty Images)
Dan Carter (Getty Images)

Paris - Dan Carter admitted to shelving thoughts of a hot New Zealand beach as he battled driving rain and wind to lead Racing 92 to the top of the Top 14 table in a hard-fought 23-18 victory over Bordeaux-Begles.

Carter was instrumental in the win in his first Top 14 start at Stade Yves-du-Manoir in the Parisian suburb of Colombes.

While the inclement weather might have been more winter in Dunedin than springtime in Paris, a smart show and give from the Kiwi playmaker set up the decisive try in the 53rd minute of a real slog of a match.

Carter burst inside Felix Le Bourhis' right shoulder, a one-handed offload finding Brice Dulin to break clear, the international full-back's pass to Alexandre Dumoulin gifting the centre a clear run-in.

A conversion and three quick penalties from the World Rugby Player of the Year sealed the win, hooker Dimitri Szarzewski having scored Racing's opening try. Six penalties from Simon Hickey (4) and Lionel Beauxis (2) were all a combative Bordeaux side could muster.

"I'm not used to playing through Christmas and New Year, I'm usually on the beach in New Zealand! Bonne annee!" Carter told Canal Plus.

"Last week against Clermont was a big game for us (a 26-10 victory), but it meant nothing if we didn't get the win this week. We're very happy with the win."

Clermont moved into second spot after running out 33-16 victors over Agen, a much-needed confidence boost after two consecutive home losses.

Fast-rising flanker Camille Gerondeau scored a brace of tries to go along with a penalty try and 18 points from the boot of France fly-half Camille Lopez while his South African counterpart with Agen, Burton Francis, scored all of his side's points.

"That was very complicated for us in the first half playing against the wind," said Clermont coach Franck Azema.

"We knew it was important to keep hold of the ball, play the percentages and try to make them commit fouls.

"We haven't done anything exceptional in winning at Agen, others have done it before us, but it was important for us to do it to stay on course. We would have liked the bonus point but we unfortunately conceded a try."

Grenoble put Oyonnax to the sword, running out bonus-point 42-17 winners, while La Rochelle broke Castres' four-match winning streak with a battling 25-21 victory.

On Sunday, star-studded Toulon host Pau keen to bounce back from a 31-8 thrashing at the hands of second-placed Toulouse, who take on struggling defending champions Stade Francais in Paris in the day's late game.

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