The latest innovation did not quite come off
The innovative tap penalty move close to the line is well and truly back but the La Rochelle wall did not quite come off for the reigning European champions.
Ronan O’Gara’s side only narrowly scraped past George Skivington’s Gloucester in the Champions Cup last 16 to keep alive their dreams of retaining the title they won last season.
They were chasing the game with five minutes on the clock and the Cherry and Whites leading 26-22 when La Rochelle were awarded a penalty five metres from the Gloucester line by Scottish referee Mike Adamson.
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The towering Australian second-row Will Skelton took the ball but chose to face away from the tryline alongside replacement hooker Quentin Lespiaucq and France No 8 Grégory Alldritt, together making a three-man La Rochelle wall.
In a move resembling something you might have tried at school, Skelton tapped the ball to restart play with all three players still having their back facing the opposition.
Skelton then dummied to pass to the side where his team-mates were before rushing off to the right where he was met with a forceful and spirited Gloucester defence.
And while Skivington’s side kept La Rochelle at bay for large swathes of the game, they eventually succumbed to Teddy Thomas’s second try in the corner which gave the home side a 29-26 win after the sides had gone into half-time locked at 15-15.
Related: La Rochelle fans line the streets for trophy celebration
A controversial ‘croc roll’ clearout from La Rochelle’s Georges-Henri Colombe on Gloucester back-row Ruan Ackermann has earned the front-rower a four-week ban, meaning he will miss the quarter-final against Saracens on Sunday, after he was cited having initially only been given a yellow card by ref Adamson.
Former Scotland lock Jim Hamilton called out the foul play on social media, with stars such as England flanker Jack Willis having spent many months on the sidelines after suffering serious knee injuries after being croc-rolled out of a ruck when jackalling.
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