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

Paris (AFP) –

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

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

"To say the truth, it happens. I'm sad for him, he's my brother, he's my mate, but it's rugby," said Racing 92 winger Juan Imhoff.

"Unfortunately it happened to him. We don't know what he has. It's part of rugby, it happens."

Australian full-back 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 made his 50th Racing appearance since 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.

Television images showed Vakatawa icing his knee inside the changing rooms.

Russell set up both 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 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 upright with his effort from 50 metres.

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

Kolbe last played on December 11 after suffering a finger injury.

Elsewhere, Montpellier entertain Lyon, with manager Philippe Saint-Andre dropping eight players including former Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis and England centre Alex Lozowski.

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