Dan Carter moved one step closer to completing the clean sweep of world rugby’s premier trophies, booting Racing 92 into the European Champions Cup final.
The All Blacks World Cup winner landed 11 points as the Paris side ground out a 19-16 semi-final victory over mistake-ridden Leicester in Nottingham.
Former New Zealand fly-half Carter’s largely error-free showing proved stark contrast to Leicester’s ragged performance, as Racing denied an all-English final for the first time since 2007.
Carter already boasts four Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, nine Rugby Championship victories and the 2015 World Cup triumph with New Zealand – but he is in Europe to claim the Champions Cup and French Top 14.
Only Saracens now stand between Carter and part one of that northern hemisphere club trophy hunt, with Racing into their first top-tier European final in Lyon on May 14.
France scrum-half Maxime Machenaud claimed Racing’s sole try, with Johannes Goosen’s long-range penalty added to Carter’s haul proving just enough to edge the Frenchmen to the final.
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Leicester wing Telusa Veianu’s late try set up a frenetic finish, but Racing were deserved winners as Leicester left the comeback too late.
Racing’s heavy-duty pack won all the pivotal collisions, neutering Leicester’s strike runners Opeti Fonua and Manu Tuilagi.
Leicester spent all week fielding questions about how to stop 34-year-old Carter, but Racing had all the answers when it came to nullifying wrecking-ball centre Tuilagi.
Here was the England game-breaker’s chance to prove he is back to his best: it proved an opportunity he was never allowed to take.
Leicester’s frustrations in profligate attack and defeat were compounded by injury to fly-half Freddie Burns, who watched much of the match from the bench on crutches and wearing a protective boot on his left foot.