Nevers / Stade Français: 10 – 16
Nevers thrilled the crowds again. More than the thunderstorm, which fortunately only left a few drops of rain on this July evening after the heatwave. The public who filled the Pré-Fleuri stadium were right to turn out for the Soldiers in pink from the Stade Français.
In spite of the name, a friendly can sometimes reveal the true strengths of those present. On Friday, we saw the new look blues and the talent of the new recruits and the strength of the scrum.
Some absentees, some strong figures present
The players from Burgundy and Ile de France picked players from the youth teams to line up with thirty players. For Nevers, they had to make do without the service of Fred Quercy and Hugo Fabrègue, suspended, Nemo Roelofse, Max Curie and Josaïa Raisuqe, injured, Conor Trainor (Canada), Auvasa Faleali’i and Senio Toleafoa (Samoa), busy with their world cup squads.
However, these absent players were not sorely missed. After repelling a long attack from Paris, the team went on the attack for a while. Following the number eight Jason Fraser and the highly promising hooker Janick Tarrit, the three quarters ignored the rain, which started to fall. The new players Kylian Jaminet and Romaric Camou showed that the selectors were right to choose them. The only negative point was Théophile Cotte who left early after injuring his left shoulder.
Drawing at half time
Nevers opened the score with Zack Henry successfully scoring a penalty after the centre Alex Arrate was brought down. Immediately after that, Ilikena Bolakoro pushed hard, but Camou just missed the kick from Henry. The former Massy player Lester Etien counter attacked and gave the ball to his winger Adrien Lapègue who made it home. From the edge of the field, Jules Plisson converted the try. While the international added a penalty to his score, Nevers kept pushing and their scrum even came off best.
In extra time, the hard work from the locals paid off. While last season, Julien Kazubek forgot Faleali’i, on his inside preferring Raisuqe out on the wing, he was not to make the same mistake this time. The fast flanker in yellow and blue sped up, pretended to pass to Camou but gave the ball to Julien Bergé, who managed to score. Henry brought the teams back to equal pegging just before the change over.
The pink octopus
Nothing changed the domination of the Nevers scrum after half time. The Ile de France defense became like a pink octopus with their tentacles in all the rucks, while when on the attack, they stepped up their performance testing their rivals’ defense. The latter refused to give up, but committed more and more mistakes. Morné Steyn gave victory to the visitors with two penalties, as Julien Arias’s colleagues pushed back more attempts from their opponents, who were looking for a penalty. Proof that this USON team is a strong one.