Maiden Kerr-Barlow hat-trick claims La Rochelle's first win of season
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Paris (AFP) –
Former New Zealand scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow scored three tries in a game for the first time in his career as La Rochelle beat promoted Biarritz at home 59-17 on Saturday to secure their maiden victory of the French Top 14 season.
Kerr-Barlow's side had started the new campaign with three losses and just two bonus points after losing in the domestic and European Champions Cup finals last term.
"It's great to open our account. Now we'll try and grow," La Rochelle backs coach Sebastien Boboul said.
"We're satisfied with the 59 points scored, less so with the 17 conceded," he added.
The five points sends La Rochelle into 10th place in the table as Biarritz, who were promoted in June after relegation in 2014, drop to seventh after four rounds.
The Basque visitors, whose president Jean-Baptiste Aldige has threatened to move the club 1,000km north to Lille on the Belgian border due to a dispute with local government over funding, chose to rest the likes of Australia centre Tevita Kuridrani, former New Zealand back Francis Saili as well as captain and ex-England back-rower Steffon Armitage.
The hosts, coached by former Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara, dominated early on as Fiji's Eneriko Buliruarua claimed his first try for the outfit after joining from Brive over the summer on eight minutes.
Kerr-Barlow, 31, scored his first of the proceedings as he capitalised from a rolling maul after a quarter of an hour before dummying and diving over for his second on 23 minutes.
He capped off a fruitful first half sneaking over in additional time after a dominant scrum for his first third in a 26-minute hat-trick and was replaced by Jules Le Bail just after the break with the victory safe.
O'Gara's side, who played in front of a sold-out crowd for a record extending 57th match, held onto the bonus point as Georgian prop Guram Papidze crossed, were awarded a penalty try before Buliruarua claimed his second.
- 14-man Stade Francais -
Elsewhere, billionaire-backed Stade Francais won for the first time this term thanks to a 34-10 success over previously unbeaten Castres despite Paul Alo-Emile's third minute red card for a dangerous tackle.
Kerr-Barlow's former Test team-mate Ngani Laumape was named among the substitutes after starting the Parisians' first three games of the season after joining from the Hurricanes this summer.
"I think there's a lack of control in the contact area which allowed the referee to make the decision," the Parisians' head coach Gonzala Quesada said about Alo-Emile's challenge.
"We said it was his (Laumape's) turn to be on the bench. We want to keep him fresh for other games because the season is long," Quesada added.
Former New Zealand Sevens winger Ben Lam also scored a hat-trick as Bordeaux-Begles overcame Brive 29-10.
Later, Scotland's Finn Russell makes his first run-on appearance of the season as Racing 92 host Lyon before Fiji lock Leone Nakarawa starts at No.8 in Toulon's trip to promoted Perpignan.
The weekend finishes as league and European Champions Cup holders Toulouse, yet to lose this term, welcome Clermont on Sunday to a 19,000-capacity crowd Stade Ernest-Wallon
© 2021 AFP