Vakatawa injury worry in Racing 92's loss to Bordeaux-Begles

Paris (AFP) –


France centre Virimi Vakatawa suffered a knee injury as his Racing 92 lost 33-32 at home to Bordeaux-Begles in the French Top 14 on Saturday.

Vakatawa is due to join Les Bleus as they to meet on Monday for a camp in Nice before travelling to Italy on February 6 for the Six Nations opener.

Kurtley Beale hit the post with a late penalty at La Defense Arena that would have won the game for the home team.

The visitors moved up to fourth in the table, three points behind the third-placed Parisians who suffered their second straight home defeat.

The weekend's fixtures were brought forward by the National Rugby League (LNR) to fill the gap left by the cancellation of European games due to fears of the new coronavirus variant in Britain and Ireland.

Scotland fly-half Finn Russell reached the half century mark of appearances for the Parisians after joining in 2018 and head coach Laurent Travers made six changes after last weekend's home loss to Toulon.

Away coach Christophe Urios made four alterations from last Saturday's draw with Clermont as Tonga's Ben Tameifuna started against his former side, where he played 106 matches across five years.

Maxime Machenaud and Matthieu Jalibert traded penalties as the away side led 6-3 after 10 minutes before Vakatawa was substituted for Simon Zebo after hurting his left knee in a tackle.

Russell set-up Juan Imhoff, with an inside pass, and then Wenceslas Laurent, with a miraculous assist.

Australia No. 8 Scott Higginbotham and Cameron Woki, seconds before the interval, crossed for Urios' men and an open first half ended 23-23.

- Beale late miss -

Jalibert re-established a seven-point advantage for his side after finishing off a superb break from Ben Lam in the 52nd minute.

Machenaud and Australia full-back Beale both kicked penalties as Travers' side closed to 30-29 on the hour mark.

Machenaud and opposition scrum-half Maxime Lucu traded shots at goal to set-up a tense final 10 minutes with just a point between the sides before Beale hit the post with his late long-range effort.

Later, Toulouse welcome South Africa's Rugby World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe back for the trip to bottom side Agen looking to take back top spot.

Kolbe last played on December 11 in a win at Ulster after suffering a finger injury.

Elsewhere, former England U20s winger Gabriel Ibitoye makes his debut for Montpellier as they entertain Lyon and Philippe Saint-Andre has dropped eight players including former Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis and England centre Alex Lozowski.

On Sunday, Eben Etzebeth's Toulon entertain Stade Francais and Brive head to Pau.

On Friday, La Rochelle moved above Toulouse as back-rower Gregory Alldritt and hooker Pierre Bourgarit both scored twice in the 40-3 hammering over Bayonne.