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RUGBY | TOP 14

Racing 92 clinch first Top 14 title in 26 years at Camp Nou

Racing 92 clinched the French Top 14 title playing with 14 men for one hour to defeat Toulon 29-21 in a thrilling final in Barcelona.

Update:
Racing Metro 92's players celebrate with the "Bouclier de Brennus" (Brennus Shield) after winning the French Top14 rugby union final match Toulon vs Racing 92 at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on June 24, 2016.
LLUIS GENEAFP

Racing 92 clinched their first French Top 14 title in 26 years on Friday when they shrugged off having to play an hour with 14 men to defeat Toulon 29-21 in a thrilling final.
It was Racing's sixth title in their history and was watched by a record crowd for a club game of 99,124 fans inside the Nou Camp, home of Spanish football giants Barcelona.

But the team of All Blacks superstar Dan Carter did it the hard way, having scrum-half Maxime Machenaud red-carded after just 18 minutes before slipping 14-6 down.

However, a barnstorming second-half performance by the Parisian giants shattered three-time European champions Toulon's hopes of winning a fourth French crown.

After Leigh Halfpenny and Carter exchanged early penalties, the final took what looked to be a potentially key twist.

With 18 minutes on the clock, Machenaud was red-carded for spear-tackling Toulon's Australian fly-half Matt Giteau. Halfpenny slotted over the penalty and then another for 9-3.

Carter cut the deficit before Toulon grabbed the first try of the final. Georgian flanker Mamuka Gorgodze burst through one tackle to release winger Josua Tuisova in space.

The Fijian then released the giant Georgian in support who went on to score for a 14-6 lead.

Halfpenny missed the extras before Racing pulled it back to 14-12 at the interval with Johan Goosen and Carter knocking over a penalty apiece.

Long-range marksman Goosen nudged Racing in front for the first time just after the restart before Toulon's night suffered another setback.

Prop Xavier Chiocci was yellow-carded for constant infringements at the breakdown and Racing took full advantage to turn the match on its head.

Two more penalties from Goosen and Carter stretched the lead to 21-14 before Racing grabbed their only try. Carter won turnover ball and once it was cleared out, it was fed to winger Joe Rokocoko to smartly chip ahead. The bounce fell kindly for the 32-year-old former All Black Rokocoko, who collected and sprinted away for the score and a 26-14 lead.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 24: Dan Carter of Racing 92 in action during the Final Top 14 between Toulon and Racing 92 at Camp Nou on June 24, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.
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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 24: Dan Carter of Racing 92 in action during the Final Top 14 between Toulon and Racing 92 at Camp Nou on June 24, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.Jean CatuffeGetty Images

Carter missed the extras while Goosen went wide with another penalty but Racing, with Argentine winger Juan Imhoff impressively filling in as emergency scrum-half, still dominated despite being a man down.

Toulon gave themselves a lifeline with 10 minutes left when French centre Maxime Mermoz went over for a close-range score after the hard yards were made by Bryan Habana with Halfpenny adding the conversion for a 26-21 deficit.

But a weary Racing weathered the storm and a late break up field by impressive 20-year-old replacement hooker Camille Chat eased the pressure before the party began.

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