La Rochelle, clearly lacking in confidence, ended up winning in front of Pau (25-23) in a clash of contenders for qualification without rhythm and sometimes boring, Saturday evening in a Deflandre stadium which had long been amorphous. The victory and that’s it, even if in the space of four minutes Ronan O’Gara’s men had in their pocket the offensive bonus almost falling from the sky, which they were unable to keep in front of the Béarnais who did not only broke through their defense at the end. Too late. This maritime success is a breath of fresh air in the race for the Top 6 two days before the end of the regular season.

For Pau, which dreams of finally qualifying for the play-offs, a chance has surely passed and its players will undoubtedly bite their fingers at only returning with a bonus. Sébastien Piqueronies’ men paid for their initial indiscipline, their failure in scrum and this bad inspiration from their winger Eliott Roudil at the end. A week after showing their limits at the Chaban-Delmas stadium, the Maritimes were not reassured, apart from their scrum which gave them a penalty try and their defense which regained its standards and allowed them to annihilate visiting attempts. The rest was very messy, as often lately.

However, the intentions were there from the start, with a lot of desire, putting Jack Maddocks at fault, sanctioned with a yellow card (5th) and sending Jack Nowell on trial for the first time of the season (7th ). Then everything went wrong after twenty minutes, with less precision, haste, giving life back to the Béarnais who did not take full advantage of it – two missed penalties before the half-hour mark which cost dearly in the final count.

The Section dominated, converted two penalties by Joe Simmonds but ran into the black and yellow wall for a long time. Thanks to their scrum, and a penalty try granted by Mr. Gasnier (18-6, 58th), the Rochelais regained some air in the score before again losing control of the ball, owned for long minutes by Palois players but not so inspired either. Then everything came to a head in the last ten minutes. Roudil, wanting to save a ball going into touch, clumsily put it back into his in-goal and the opportunist Jules Favre took the opportunity to flatten it (25-6). This twist of fate did not deter the Palois, who gave everything at the end to come close to the wire thanks to two tries from Siate Tokolahi then a penalty a deserved bonus for all of their work that evening.