Jonathan Sexton up and running for Racing Metro
Irish international enjoys a 40-minute stint in a friendly win over Harlequins
Jonathan Sexton in action against Harlequins at the Praille Stadium in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Inpho
Racing Metro 40 Harlequins 28
Jonathan Sexton enjoyed a productive start to his Racing Metro career with a 40-minute run out in their friendly win over Harlequins in Geneva.
The former Leinster outhalf played a part in Racing’s two first-half tries and converted both, while Welsh flanker Dan Lydiate also got on the score sheet in his first game for their new club.
The score was tied at 14-14 when Sexton was replaced by Jonathan Wisniewski at the interval, before the French side pulled clear for a 40-28 victory.
Racing open their Top 14 campaign against Brive in La Rochelle next Saturday and Sexton, interviewed by French TV during the second half, said he was happy to have got some game time.
“Yeah I had a short holiday and I’ve played my first 40 minutes now,” he said. “I’m delighted to get playing.
“There was some good stuff in the first half and some not-so -good stuff that we’ll have to improve on against Brive.”
The 28-year-old had spent the past few days training with his team mates in Lausanne, and was relieved that his initiation was not as difficult as it could have been.
All of Racing’s new signings were given goldfish to look after for the week and Sexton revealed that he had been expected to eat his – only for the club doctor to suggest that it might not be such a good idea.
“I’m glad that the doctor did intervene,” he said.
“But it got us into the environment with the lads. We had a good week here in Switzerland and got a lot of good work done.”
Recently installed in Paris after helping the British and Irish Lions to a tour win in Australia, Sexton and Lydiate were among ten changes to the Racing side that had lost 14-6 to Toulon last week.
It did not take long for Sexton to show his class, as he was at the heart of the opening try after four minutes.
A clever diagonal kick from the Irish international found Adrien Planté on the right wing, which allowed Alexandre Dumoulin to cross for the opening try.
Sexton’s conversion made it 7-0 but after that he found himself with plenty of defending to do. Harlequins’ quick tempo and offloading caused the Racing defence serious problems and much of the remainder of the opening period was played out in the French side’s half.
Conor O’Shea’s team had one try ruled out and were held up within striking distance on several occasions, with a booming kick by Sexton from his own line relieving the pressure briefly.
Ugo Monye finally made the English side’s dominance pay but with 34 minutes gone, Sexton’s well-placed kick offered Racing a lineout within five metres of the Harlequins’ line.
Lydiate drove over only to see George Lowe instantly reply, as the two sides – who are destined to meet a couple of times more this season as they are in the same Heineken Cup pool – went in level all the break.
That was the end of Sexton’ s involvement, with Wisniewski the man to benefit as both teams emptied their benches and Harlequins tired in a ragged second half.
The French outhalf, who struck three conversions out of four, said he is looking forward to challenging Sexton for a place in Racing’s starting 15 this season.
“It can only be positive,” Wisniewski said of Sexton’s arrival. “It’s another source of motivation for me to try and get better.”