Racing claim crucial win against weakened Toulouse
Racing-Metro's fly-half Jonathan Sexton scores a try during the French Top 14 Rugby Union match against Toulouse on January 25, 2014, in Stade de France Stadium - by Thomas Samson
It was a win that joint head coach Laurence Labit had demanded during the week and it lifted them into the sixth and final play-off spot, two points adrift of fourth-placed Toulouse.
Toulouse, meanwhile, face a tough time in the weeks to come as they are without a number of internationals for the Six Nations and several key players have long-term injuries.
Tries by Irish fly-half Jonathan Sexton, Welsh scrum-half Mike Phillips and France wing Marc Andreu in the first 45 minutes secured a fine victory and a bonus point for the hosts, but they ran out of steam and may come to rue missing out on the try bonus.
Sexton, who will head off to play for Ireland in the Six Nations beginning with their clash with Scotland next weekend, denied it had been his best game for the club since he joined from Leinster last year.
"I was allowed to play that way because the forwards made ground every time they had the ball," said the 28-year-old.
"As regards the team performance, well we have won the big games this season, Toulon, Clermont and Montpellier but lost to poorer sides.
"The key for us is to be consistent. It is up to each player to prepare in the same way for each match."
The defeat for Toulouse extended their poor run away from home in the Top 14, which has seen them fail to register a win this season.
Indeed, the last one they recorded was against Racing-Metro on March 30 last year and, with three hard away games to come in the next few weeks, their place in the play-offs is far from guaranteed.
Sexton was the first to go over as he took advantage of a dreadful attempted clearing kick by former France international fly-half Lionel Beauxis to score before converting for a 7-0 lead in the fifth minute.
Worse was to befall Toulouse in the 15th minute as Racing winger Andreu intercepted a Toulouse pass and unloaded to Sexton, who raced up the left wing and unselfishly grubber-kicked the ball into the Toulouse 22 for halfback partner Phillips to score a second try.
Sexton failed to convert but he added two penalties before the break to make it 18-0.
Toulouse showed little improvement after the break, and Racing ran in their third try in the 45th minute as the excellent Andreu went over after a superb move involving Sexton and Jamie Roberts, before the decisive break by Argentinian Juan Imhoff.
Sexton converted for 25-0.
The visitors' woes deepened soon afterwards as flanker Joe Tekori was sin-binned for a late block on Sexton, who failed to land the resulting penalty .
Despite the one-man advantage for 10 minutes they were unable to add to their lead, and instead it was Toulouse who added the only score in the final 20 minutes, a last-minute try which Beauxis failed to convert.