JONNY SEXTON CAME off the bench in Racing Metro’s 30-6 midweek hammering by Toulouse but he was better placed to influence events against Perpignan today.
The former Leinster outhalf kicked 14 points for the Parisian side at Stade Yves-du-Manoir as they held off a late Perpignan challenge to triumph 19 — 16. Sexton and British and Irish Lions teammate Jamie Roberts are slowly settling into life at the club but a win was a much-needed tonic as Racing were 11th in the Top 14 before kick-off.
Tommy Allan’s penalty put the visitors in front after four minutes but Sexton cancelled it out with one of his own, four minutes later. The Racing pack started to hold sway as the first half progressed and they earned Sexton another penalty, which he converted, on 23 minutes. Allan answered with one of his own to leave the scorers level on 6-6 at the break.
Racing came out firing after the break and Sexton put them ahead with a penalty on 43 minutes. The game then turned on 51 minutes and the Irishman was heavily involved. He linked up with Benjamin Fall on the right wing and, after a TMO check to see if he was in touch before passing, the try was awarded. Sexton added the conversion to make it 16-6.
Any thoughts of upping the attacking ante to force a bonus point victory were shredded when Adrien Planté was yellow-carded for illegally holding up a Perpignan maul. The penalty try was awarded and Allan chipped over to make it a three-point game.
Tommaso Benvenuti then cost his team vital momentum when he was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle. The only team to score when it was a 14-a-side was Racing, through a Sexton penalty.
A nervy finish was set up when Allan made it 19-16 with 12 minutes to go. There were 77 minutes on the clock when Welsh James Hook lined up a penalty from the halfway line that would have ended the game in a tie. His effort was just short of its mark and Racing had their third win of the season.