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ER Champions Cup Pool Draw 2017 18


Quarter FinalsChampions Cup Final 2017 Winners Saracens

ASM Clermont AuvergneASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE 17 - 28 SARACENSSaracens

BT Murrayfield Stadium - Saturday 13th May 2017
KO: 17:00 HT: 7-12 Att: 55,272

HOW IT HAPPENED MINUTE BY MINUTE…

Clermont v Saracens Just over 10 minutes til KO here at Murrayfield, & there's sunshine!
Clermont v Saracens Teams are warming up for the final...can Saracens make it 2 years on the bounce?
Champions Cup Final 2017 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Saracens MurrayfieldClermont 0-0 1m Ref Nigel Owens signals the teams to KO the 2017 Champions Cup Final at Murrayfield Saracens
Clermont 0-0 3m In a lightning start, Marcelo Bosch cuts through and Nick Abendanon stops Chris Ashton two metres short
Clermont 0-0 5m Vital turn over five metres out by Aurélien Rougerie halting Sarries again
Champions Cup Final 2017 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Saracens Chris Ashton Morgan ParraClermont 0-0 Saracens 10m Ten minutes in & Sarries have visited the Clermont 22 for the third time in hope
Clermont 0-5 Saracens 12m Persistence pays off as Chris Ashton flies over for the first points of the game…
Clermont 0-5 Saracens 14m There's no conversion, but Sarries are soon on the attack again up to the ASM 22
Clermont 0-5 Saracens 18m A penalty from ASM gives Owen Farrell another chance at points...but he's short
Clermont 0-5 Saracens 19m Sarries Penalty again & they set up attacking lineout - forced back but...
Clermont 0-5 Saracens 20m ...they get back on the front foot with effort from Mako Vunipola & Alex Goode
Clermont 0-10 Saracens 21m And it's George Kruis who finds the whitewash for a second try already
Champions Cup Final 2017 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Saracens George Kruis tryClermont 0-12 Saracens 22m Etienne Falgoux replaces Raphael Chaume
Clermont 0-12 Saracens 22m Faz claims his 1st pts of match with conversion & ASM aren't getting a look in
Clermont 0-12 Saracens 23m Finally, Clermont make ground & set up a 5m lineout in Sarries 22...
Clermont 0-12 Saracens 24m The lineout is good & drive to tryline but are halted from scoring by Sarries on ground
Clermont 0-12 Saracens 25m Clermont drive hard; Aurélien Rougerie is just held short of tryline but there's more
Clermont 5-12 Saracens 27m Remi Lamerat forces his way thru & he scores for the French with flair
Clermont 5-12 Saracens 27m Chaume back on for Falgoux
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 28m Morgan Parra adds the extras & Clermont are right back in this game
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 30m Sarries charge right back up to the Clermont tryline but they can't get it down
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 31m Clermont make some yards & head over halfway to the Sarries 10m but not for long
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 33m Sarries force play back to the midfield & eventually Clermont take possession
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 35m Camille Lopez lobs ball downfield from halfway; Clermont knock on & scrum Sarries
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 36m Apologies for painfully slow wifi; time off as Lopez is checked out by medic
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 37m Lopez is fine bit Sarries are fast back deep in Clermont's 22 as handbags erupt
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 37m Another time off as Clermont medic returns; Owens has a word with both captains
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 38m Clermont penalty as Sarries lose 15m rather than 10; halfway lineout for ASM
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 39m Clermont barely make 10m before Sarries cause havoc for ASM...
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 40m ...French hope to get away but intercept thwarts effort...but knock on halts advance
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 40+1m And Ref Owens blows whistle for HT as Sarries have had most of the play so far

Clermont 7-12 HT T: Lamerat C: Parra | T: Ashton, Kruis C: Farrell

Clermont 7-12 Saracens 40m The teams return & Owen signals to restart the final 40 minutes...
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 41m Sarries head in to the Clermont 22 already tho Clermont have possession...
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 41m Clermont manage to halt the advance & push Sarries out of their 22 for lineout
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 42m Sarries think they have it but an intercept & it's Scott Spedding who's off...
Champions Cup Final 2017 Scott Spedding ASM Clermont Auvergne v SaracensClermont 7-12 Saracens 43m ...Clermont make serious ground & Lopez attempts an impressive drop goal
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 44m ...but the kick is not quite accurate & it's no points this time
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 45m Sarries force Clermont back & play halted on ASM 10m after knock on from Clermont
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 45m Sarries defensive scrum just outside the 10m - needs to be reset...
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 46m Clermont chants finally drown out the Irish (who are here en mass)
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 47m Sarries hold possession after Billy V pulls in defenders & Goode kicks to touch
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 48m Clermont take quick throw & Lopez clears lines but Sarries are back hard & fast
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 49m Sarries fans pipe up chanting as team is just 4m short of tryline...
Clermont 7-12 Saracens 50m Clermont infringe at the breakdown & advantage being played - penalty comes
Clermont 7-15 Saracens 50m Faz tees up from in front of posts barely 6m out & adds 3 points for Sarries
Clermont 7-15 Saracens 51m Clermont restart but Sarries shove them back over halfway with a long kick to 22
Clermont 7-15 Saracens 51m But Clermont take ball from own 22 all the way to the Sarries tryline via Peceli...
Clermont 14-15 Saracens 52m ...Yato to Nick Abendanon who flies over the tryline to score; Parra adds extras
Clermont 14-15 Saracens 54m Sarries return with a bit of attitude & head deep into Clermont's 22
Clermont 14-15 Saracens 55m Clermont infringe yet again just as Sarries attempt to score...penalty given
Clermont 14-15 Saracens 56m But no further ASM punishment despite offending in same place again
Clermont 14-18 Saracens 57m Faz puts a little distance on the scoreboard with another 3 points
Clermont 14-18 Saracens 59m Clermont have ambition & head towards Sarries 22 where they're awarded a penalty
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 60m Parra wastes no time in reducing the deficit to just one point to slow clapping
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 62m Clermont definitely shown up with verve this half - no walk in park for Sarries
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 63m Play back in midfield & it's a Sarries lineout - but not before a time off
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 64m Play resumes & Sarries are right back in ASM's 22 before Brits knock on
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 64m Jedrasiak, Falgoux, Penaud & Lapandry for Vahaamahina, Chaume, Rougerie & Yato
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 65m Schalk Brits, Duncan Taylor & Schalk Burger on for George, Barritt & Wray
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 65m Clermont defensive scrum not 10m from own tryline & they surge...Sarries forced back
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 66m Scrum collapses but Clermont clear well back up to their 10m
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 66m Sarries hit back hard in to the 22 just 5m short; floating pass to far corner...
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 66m ...Lopez looks like he's deliberately knocked on preventing the try > TMO
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 66m Sarries fans want blood but Owens gives an attacking scrum in the 22...
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 67m ...Billy V comes away with ball but is sharply bundled into touch before corner
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 68m Clermont win their 5m defensive lineout & clear Sarries back up to the 10m
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 69m Sarries need a try quite quickly if they are to retain their title...
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 70m ...so they promptly attack back into the ASM 22; Spedding gets to ball but knock on
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 70m Time off & some changes before the Sarries 5m scrum
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 70m Yato back on for Lee; reversed while Ulugia & Fernandez on for Kayser & Spedding
Clermont 17-18 Saracens 71m Scrum goes down, reset & Clermont force Sarries wide from nearside but still in 22
Clermont 17-23 Saracens 72m Sarries have overlap in far corner & it's Goode that's finds the whitewash to score
Champions Cup Final 2017 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Saracens Alex GoodeClermont 17-25 Saracens 73m Sarries fans roar in glee as Faz kicks the conversion almost from the touchline
Clermont 17-25 Saracens 74m Clermont need two scores in final 6 minutes if they have any chance here...
Clermont 17-25 Saracens 74m Davit Zirakashvili for Aaron Jarvis | Titi Lamositele for Mako Vunipola
Clermont 17-25 Saracens 75m ...& Sarries help them by immediately handing over a penalty after restart
Clermont 17-25 Saracens 76m But Lopez just pushes it wide from the upright & only four minutes remain
Clermont 17-25 Saracens 76m Petrus du Plessis, Ben Spencer, Jim Hamilton & Alex Lozowski on for Vincent Koch, Richard Wigglesworth, Maro Itoje & Chris Wyles
Clermont 17-25 Saracens 77m Radosavljevic on for Parra while Clermont defend in their own half again...
Clermont 17-25 Saracens 78m ...& then the penalty goes to Sarries - just outside the 22 in front of posts
Clermont 17-28 Saracens 78m Faz takes his time teeing up, & does pop it over with ease for the Championship
Clermont 17-28 Saracens 79m Clermont haven't given up yet as they push towards Sarries' 22...
Clermont 17-28 Saracens 80m ...but a penalty goes to Saracens & they force play back to halfway
Clermont 17-28 Saracens 80+1m Both benches emptied & the final whistle goes for another Sarries triumph
Champions Cup Final 2017 Winners SaracensClermont 17-28 Saracens FT Clermont lose a 3rd final; Sarries are only 4th team in European history to win twice back to back
Clermont 17-28 Saracens FT Billy Vunipola is named man of the match
Clermont 17-28 Saracens FT Owen Farrell named EPCR European Player of the Year and the first winner of the Anthony Foley Memorial Award

CLERMONT: Scott Spedding, David Strettle, Aurélien Rougerie, Remi Lamerat, Nick Abendanon, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra, Raphael Chaume, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Arthur Iturria, Sébastien Vahaamahina, DAMIEN CHOULY (C), Peceli Yato, Fritz Lee BENCH: John Ulugia, Etienne Falgoux, Aaron Jarvis, Paul Jedrasiak, Alexandre Lapandry, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Pato Fernandez, Damian Penaud

SCORERS T: Lamerat, Abendanon C: Parra (2) P: Parra

SARACENS: Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, BRAD BARRITT (C), Chris Wyles, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Vincent Koch, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Michael Rhodes, Jackson Wray, Billy Vunipola BENCH: Schalk Brits, Titi Lamositele, Petrus du Plessis, Jim Hamilton, Schalk Burger, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Duncan Taylor

SCORERS T: Ashton, Kruis, Goode C: Farrell (2) P: Farrell (3)

Referee: Nigel Owens Asst Referees: George Clancy, Ian Davies TMO: Jon Mason Citing Commissioner: Stefano Marrama

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EPCR Play Offs

PLAY OFF FINAL
Northampton SaintsNORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs STADE FRANÇAISStade Francais

Franklins Gardens - Friday 26 May 2017
KO: 19.45 HT: tbc

SAINTS: Ahsee Tuala, Ben Foden, Nafi Tuitavake, Luther Burrell, George North, Harry Mallinder, Nic Groom, Alex Waller, Dylan Hartley, Kieran Brookes, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day, Teimana Harrison, TOM WOOD (C), Louis Picamoles BENCH: Mikey Haywood, Campese Ma'afu, Gareth Denman, Api Ratuniyarawa, Jamie Gibson, Lee Dickson, Sam Olver, Rory Hutchinson

SCORERS

STADE: Djibril Camara, Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Jonathan Danty, Jérémy Sinzelle, Jules Plisson, Will Genia, Zurabi Zhvania, Remi Bonfils, Paul Alo Emile, Willem Alberts, PAUL GABRILLAGUES (C), Antoine Burban, Raphael Lakafia, Jonathan Ross BENCH: Craig Burden, Rabah Slimani, Giorgi Melikidze, Mathieu De Giovanni, Sekou Macalou, Clement Daguin, Morné Steyn, Herman Meyer Bosman

SCORERS

Referee: John Lacey Asst Referees: George Clancy, Nigel Correll TMO: Simon McDowell Citing Commissioner: Peter Ferguson

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PO2
Stade Francais STADE FRANÇAIS 46 - 21 CARDIFF BLUESCardiff Blues

Stade Jean Bouin - Friday 19 May 2017
KO: 18.00 HT: 10-14

STADE FRANÇAIS kept up their hopes of playing European Rugby Champions Cup rugby next season as they secured a 46-21 victory over Cardiff Blues in their play-off semi-final clash. A week after being crowned European Challenge Cup winners following their final victory over Gloucester Rugby at BT Murrayfield, Stade continued their impressive recent form in the French capital.

The TOP14 giants trailed at half time, Macauley Cook and Nick Williams scoring for the injury-hit Blues while Waisea Vuidarvuwalu responded for Stade. But in an entertaining second half, the Blues fell apart as their opponents crossed for six tries after the break. Three quick home efforts from Giorgi Melikidze, Mathieu De Giovanni and Sekou Macalou put Stade in control and from then on it was always going to be a tough task for the Welsh side.

Playing for the full 80 minutes has long been the Blues' problem and it reared its ugly head again here as despite a second from Cook, Macalou completed his brace and replacements Laurent Panis and Clement Daguin finished off the scoring late on. Danny Wilson's men lost Tom James in the warm-up and then saw both his replacement Rhun Williams and centre Rey Lee-Lo limp from the field early on.

Steyn's opening penalty for Stade was a blow, but the Blues hit back with a bang and in style too. A sensational break from the impressive Willis Halaholo nearly resulted in a score for Alex Cuthbert, and when the ball was recycled, Gareth Anscombe's short inside ball found Cook who dived over. Just two minutes later, Williams added the visitors' second try, more good work from Halaholo and Cuthbert allowing the giant No 8 to cross from close range. Fly-half Anscombe converted both tries. At 14-3 up, the Blues looked in control, but Stade narrowed their deficit before the break. Sergio Parisse's pass found Vuidarvuwalu to score near the posts, Steyn converting to make the halftime score just 10-14.

The French side then took control right at the start of the second period. Within 17 minutes replacement prop Melikidze, loose forward Mathieu De Giovanni and flying wing Macalou had all scored with Steyn converting the first two of those efforts. The Blues showed courage to hit straight back, Anscombe's chip finding replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams, playing on the wing, who passed inside for Cook to cross. Anscombe converted, but Macalou's second sealed Stade's win and Parisse's intercept and kick ahead allowed Jules Plisson to put Panis in to score.

Daguin sprinted into the corner for the game's final try, with the Blues' injury woe summed up with captain Ellis Jenkins forced to play in the centre in the last few minutes after Halaholo and Kirby Myhill also left the field. Wilson's men will now play in the Challenge Cup in the 2017-18 campaign.

Flyhalf Morné Steyn ended the game with 11 points and Stade will now play either Northampton Saints in the play-off final at Franklins Gardens.

STADE: Jérémy Sinzelle, Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, Jonathan Danty, Herman Meyer Bosman, Sekou Macalou, Morné Steyn, Julien Dupuy, Heinke Van der Merwe, Remi Bonfils, Paul Alo Emile, Willem Alberts, Paul Gabrillagues, Antoine Burban, Matthieu Ugena, SERGIO PARISSE (C) BENCH: Laurent Panis, Rabah Slimani, Giorgi Melikidze, Mathieu De Giovanni, Raphael Lakafia, Clement Daguin, Jules Plisson, Jonathan Ross

SCORERS  T: Nayacalevu, Melikidze, de Giovanni, Macalou (2), Panis, Daguin C: Steyn (4) P: Steyn

BLUES: Matthew Morgan , Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Tom James, Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees, Tau Filise, Jarrad Hoeata, Macauley Cook, Josh Navidi, ELLIS JENKINS (C), Nick Williams BENCH: Kirby Myhill, Corey Domachowski, Anton Peikrishvili, Seb Davies, Sion Bennett, Tomos Williams, Steven Shingler, Rhun Williams

SCORERS T: Cook (2), Nick Williams C: Anscombe (3)

Referee: Greg Garner Asst Referees: Jack Makepeace, Paul Burton TMO: David Rose Citing Commissioner: Eddie Walsh

 

PO1
Northampton SaintsNORTHAMPTON SAINTS 21 - 15 CONNACHT Connacht Rugby

Franklin's Gardens - Saturday 20 May 2017
KO: 16.00 HT: 13-10

STAND-IN outside half Harry Mallinder was the home hero as he scored a try within a minute of the kick-off and ended the game with a match winning 16 points as he kept alive his side's hopes of clinching the 20th place in next season's Champions Cup and condemned Connacht to the Challenge Cup.

It was an emotional game for Connacht head coach Pat Lam as he took his side back to the club that he led to the European Cup title in 2000 for what he knew could be his final game in charge of the Irish province before heading to Bristol next season. He will leave having led them into the Champions Cup this season as PRO12 champions.

His side could not have got off to a worse start as they conceded a try inside 57 second as Harry Mallinder accepted an inside pass from full back Ahsee Tuala to cross in the right corner. The outside half converted his own try and the Saints were off to a flying start. But their lead did not last long as Connacht hit back almost immediately. Wing Niyi Adeolokun drove hard at the home defence, was hauled down short, but got back up to reach the line for a try that Craig Ronaldson converted.

After that opening flurry of tries in the first five minutes, the rest of the half quietened down and the only other scores before the break came from the boot. Mallinder kicked two penalties to open up a six point lead before Ronaldson replied to make it 13-10 at the break.

Saints tried to use their driving line-out to extend their lead just before half-time, but on both occasions they were held up. But when they got a chance to try a similar tactic in the second half, the Connacht pack came up trumps. The home scrum half Nic Groom scampered over from five metres in the 57th minute to make it 18-10, but five minutes later Connacht kicked to the left corner and executed the perfect line-out drive to create a try for hooker Dave Heffernan that brought the visitors back to within one score.

The next score was going to be vital and it fell to Saints as Mallinder hit the mark once again to take his match tally to 16 points with a third penalty nine minutes from time. Connacht got one last chance to strike before the end when Jamie Gibson was sent to the sin-bin for slowing down the ball at a ruck on his 10 metres line. Ronaldson kicked to the right corner in the 22, but could only get with 15 metres of the line. Connacht threw the kitchen sink into the closing few minutes, but could not break the Saints defensive line.

SAINTS: Ahsee Tuala, Ben Foden, Nafi Tuitavake, Luther Burrell, George North, Harry Mallinder, Nic Groom, Alex Waller, DYLAN HARTLEY (C), Kieran Brookes, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day, Jamie Gibson, Teimana Harrison, Louis Picamoles BENCH: Mikey Haywood, Campese Ma'afu, Gareth Denman, Api Ratuniyarawa, Tom Wood, Lee Dickson, Sam Olver, Rory Hutchinson

SCORERS T: Mallinder, Groom C: Mallinder P: Mallinder (3) Yellow Card Gibson

CONNACHT: Tiernan O'Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Danie Poolman, Craig Ronaldson, Cian Kelleher, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, Denis Buckley, David Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, Andrew Browne, Sean O'Brien, Jake Heenan, JOHN MULDOON (C) BENCH: Shane Delahunt, JP Cooney, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Naulia Dawai, Caolin Blade, John Cooney, Matt Healy

SCORERS T: Adeolokun, Heffernan C: Ronaldson P: Ronaldson

Referee: Mathieu Raynal Asst Referees: Pascal Gaüzère, Ludovic Cayre TMO: Eric Gauzins Citing Commissioner: Richard McGhee

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Quarter Finals

Munster Rugby MUNSTER RUGBY 10 - 26 SARACENSSaracens

Aviva Stadium - Saturday 22 April 2017
KO: 15:15 HT: 3-6 Att: 51,300

HOW IT HAPPENED MINUTE BY MINUTE…

Munster v Saracens KO in 10 & we're live from Aviva Stadium
Munster v Saracens Referee: Romain Poite Asst Referees: Pascal Gaüzère, Alexandre Ruiz TMO: Philippe Bonhoure
Munster v Saracens Teams bristling to get out of the tunnel & onto the pitch...
Munster 0-0 Saracens 1m Munster KO after winning toss in midfield before clear ball into Sarries half
Munster 0-0 Saracens 2m Scrum Sarries after secure position from the box kick...
Munster 0-0 Saracens 3m Sarries hold on to ball but get shoved back into own 22 & penalty to Munster
Munster 0-0 Saracens 4m Munster attacking scrum deep in Sarries 22 & reset as Athenry rings out
Munster 0-0 Saracens 5m Aviva Stadium is a sea of Munster red; finally scrum happens & Munster 2m short
Munster 0-0 Saracens 6m Sarries hold Munster out & give away a penalty to prevent a 7-point score...
Munster 3-0 Saracens 7m Tyler Bleyendaal knocks over the opening points of the semi-final & takes lead
Munster 3-0 Saracens 8m Poor box kick from Richard Wigglesworth & Chris Ashton can't get under it...
Munster 3-0 Saracens 9m ...Ashy tackles a tad early & it's another penalty to Munster
Munster 3-0 Saracens 10m Aerial football & Simon Zebo clears it from own 22 setting up 10m attacking lineout
Munster 3-0 Saracens 12m Sarries force play back over halfway & Munster have to battle their way back
Munster 3-0 Saracens 12m A kick too far for Munster up to Sarries 22 & Alex Goode clears Munster back
Munster 3-0 Saracens 13m Time off for a mo before a Sarries scrum just inside Munster territory
Munster 3-0 Saracens 14m Sarries win their scrum & come away with the penalty, Sarries lineout outside 22
Munster 3-0 Saracens 15m Good lineout from Jamie George & penalty goes visitors' way at the breakdown
Munster 3-3 Saracens 17m Owen Farrell tees up & simply equalises the score with his penalty kick
Munster 3-3 Saracens 18m Clever tactic from Munster aiming restarts at Billy V to keep him distracted
Munster 3-3 Saracens 19m Munster have made some territory & Faz drops ball forward in own 22...
Munster 3-3 Saracens 20m ...Sarries make life a little difficult for themselves but turnover is secured
Munster 3-3 Saracens 21m Saracens lineout is secured as they heave into Munster territory...
Munster 3-3 Saracens 22m Andrew Conway gets under high ball extending boot on way down into Sean Maitland
Munster 3-3 Saracens 23m But Maitland's tackle is early with Conway still in air - penalty for Munster
Munster 3-3 Saracens 24m Jackson Wray shown yellow for tackling high even tho player slipped down
Munster 3-3 Saracens 26m More huge pressure on Saracens' defence as Munster attack...
Munster 3-3 Saracens 27m Zebo gets well under high ball resulting in Munster attacking lineout
Munster 3-3 Saracens 28m Sarries defence is again immense & in own 22, have put in on defensive scrum
Munster 3-3 Saracens 29m Sarries hang on to the ball & manage to clear eventually back up to halfway
Munster 3-3 Saracens 30m It's Munster's ball but miles away from where they were; box kick to Billy V
Munster 3-3 Saracens 31m Munster have spent 66% of time in Sarries half so far; aerial football ensues
Munster 3-3 Saracens 32m Munster lineout on Sarries 10m but kick charged down & Sarries clear over halfway
Munster 3-3 Saracens 33m Wray preparing to return as Sarries have attacking scrum outside Munster 22...
Munster 3-3 Saracens 34m Wray returns as scrum is reset as Poite says it's unstable...
Munster 3-3 Saracens 35m Penalty goes to Saracens again from their own scrum after Dave Kilcoyne pinged
Munster 3-6 Saracens 36m Excellent kick from Faz from outside the 22 & slightly off centre to take lead
Munster 3-6 Saracens 37m Munster's restart attack on Billy V fails & they're forced back into their 22
Munster 3-6 Saracens 37m Ball heads towards Keith Earls & Faz goes to tackle him...
Munster 3-6 Saracens 38m Earls leaves ball & so Faz pinged for tackle; cynical play after Faz commits
Munster 3-6 Saracens 39m Munster in possession again & eventually get over halfway; 13 phases but no ground
Munster 3-6 Saracens 40m Sarries steal ball back & perfect chip thru from Maki Vunipola to touch...
Munster 3-6 Saracens 40m ...& Poite blows the HT whistle

Munster 3-6 Saracens HT P: Bleyendaal | P: Farrell (2) Yellow Card Wray

Munster 3-6 Saracens 41m We're back for the 2nd half as Saracens have 40 minutes to defend their title
Munster 3-6 Saracens 42m Visitors all over Munster to start but Maitland spills ball in tackle on 22
Munster 3-6 Saracens 43m Munster have 1st scrum of the half but it's deep in their own half
Munster 3-6 Saracens 44m They barely secure the scrum & kick is appalling giving Sarries the 22 lineout
Munster 3-6 Saracens 44m But Sarries lose their first lineout & Munster can force them back to midfield
Munster 3-6 Saracens 45m However, Sarries come straight back & into Munster territory for another lineout
Munster 3-6 Saracens 46m That goes much better & Sarries attack but Goode loses ball to Zebo...
Munster 3-6 Saracens 47m ...would be clear run for Zebo but he's knocked it own & whistle goes
Munster 3-6 Saracens 48m It's all a bit messy before a brief time off...
Munster 3-6 Saracens 49m Munster gain some territory but Sarries force them back before lineout on halfway
Munster 3-6 Saracens 50m Munster lineout results in Sarries possession but in own half...
Munster 3-6 Saracens 51m Schalk Brits replaces Lions hooker George & Sarries have attacking 10 lineout
Munster 3-6 Saracens 52m Another opportunity lost by Sarries as Ashy drops ball with clear run
Munster 3-6 Saracens 53m However, possession secured again & George Kruis reaches for T/L...& drops it!
Munster 3-6 Saracens 53m Jean Deysel only just on for Tommy O'Donnell & makes the vital tackle on Kruis
Munster 3-6 Saracens 54m Dave O'Callaghan replaces Peter O'Mahony while Sarries attack in Munster 22
Munster 3-11 Saracens 55m & it's Mako V who burrows over whitewash for the first try of the semi-final
Munster 3-13 Saracens 56m Faz steadily tees up the conversion & adds the extras for a 10 point lead
Munster 3-13 Saracens 56m Meanwhile, Francis Saili replaces Jaco Taute & Schalk Burger for Wray
Munster 3-13 Saracens 57m Billy Holland captain now, has to have word with team about high balls
Munster 3-13 Saracens 58m O'Mahony is only off for blood while Munster drive into Sarries' 22...
Munster 3-13 Saracens 59m ...& win a penalty for Bleyendaal to convert to points...but he misses badly
Munster 3-13 Saracens 60m Final quarter approaches & Saracens front row wrestle possession away...
Munster 3-13 Saracens 61m ... with turnover at breakdown on halfway & a penalty comes their way too
Munster 3-13 Saracens 61m Sarries attacking lineout ball for Maro Itoje is stolen again tho...
Munster 3-13 Saracens 62m ...but Munster immediately pinged for collapsing the maul; Sarries scrum
Munster 3-13 Saracens 63m Scrum on Munster 22 needs some adjusting while Chris Wyles replaces Maitland
Munster 3-13 Saracens 63m Penalty secured from scrum by Saracens & Faz prepares to splice the uprights
Munster 3-16 Saracens 64m And he does - the lead increases to 13 & Munster need to find some points
Munster 3-16 Saracens 65m Cronin, Marshall, Sweetnam & Archer for Earls, Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell & John Ryan
Munster 3-16 Saracens 66m O'Mahony is not returning to play while Holland is overly chatting to ref
Munster 3-16 Saracens 67m Massive pressure from Munster who are all over Saracens & threatening...
Munster 3-16 Saracens 68m ...but a turnover & huge kick is chased by Ashy into Munster's 22
Munster 3-16 Saracens 69m Ashy doesn't quite get to it but it's not released & eventually turnover...
Munster 3-21 Saracens 70m ...Munster attempt to hold Sarries out but Wyles finds T/L for another try
Munster 3-23 Saracens 71m Faz swiftly adds the extras & Munster cannot come back from this
Munster 3-23 Saracens 72m Keatley for Bleyendaal | du Plessis, Spencer, Lamositele for Koch, Wigglesworth, Mako Vunipola
Munster 3-23 Saracens 73m Meanwhile, Munster gift another penalty deep in their own half...
Munster 3-26 Saracens 74m ...& an annoyed Faz punishes them with three further points
Munster 3-26 Saracens 75m Alex Lozowski & Jim Hamilton on for Marcelo Bosch & Itoje
Munster 3-26 Saracens 76m Munster want to save some face here & head into Saracens territory again...
Munster 3-26 Saracens 77m Saracens defence holds up well & even steal possession again but...
Munster 3-26 Saracens 78m ...in their own 22 Saracens don't get ball away with conviction
Munster 8-26 Saracens 79m Munster come back with persistent grit & CJ Stander does find whitewash
Munster 10-26 Saracens 80m Ian Keatley converts for a consolation try, & Munster still want more
Munster 10-26 Saracens 80+2m Munster keep ball in play for 2 more minutes before Wyles saves it &...
Munster 10-26 Saracens 80+3m ...& Spencer kicks it into touch for a 3rd straight Champions Cup Final spot!
Munster 10-26 Saracens FT Utter class win from Saracens - no one switches it up like them; Vincent Kock MotM

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, Tyler Bleyendaal, Duncan Williams, Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, PETER O'MAHONY (C), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander BENCH: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Dave O'Callaghan, Jean Deysel, Ian Keatley, Francis Saili, Darren Sweetnam

SCORERS T: Stander C: Keatley P: Bleyendaal

SARACENS: Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, BRAD BARRITT (C), Sean Maitland, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Vincent Koch, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Michael Rhodes, Jackson Wray, Billy Vunipola BENCH: Schalk Brits, Titi Lamositele, Petrus du Plessis, Jim Hamilton, Schalk Burger, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Chris Wyles

SCORERS T: Mako Vunipola, Wyles C: Farrell (2) P: Farrell (4) Yellow Card Wray

Referee: Romain Poite Asst Referees: Pascal Gaüzère, Alexandre Ruiz TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

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ASM Clermont AuvergneCLERMONT AUVERGNE 27 - 22 LEINSTER Leinster Rugby

Matmut Stadium de Gerland, Lyon - Sunday 23 April 2017
KO:
16:00 HT: 15-3 Att: 40,024

 

HOW IT HAPPENED MINUTE BY MINUTE…

Clermont vs Leinster Referee: Nigel Owens Asst Referees: Wayne Barnes, Ian Davies TMO: Jonathan Mason
Clermont 0-0 Leinster 1m Glorious day at the Matmut Stadium de Gerland as we KO in Lyon
Clermont 5-0 Leinster 3m Clermont waste no time from KO; Peceli Yato pounces on tryline for the first score
Clermont 7-0 Leinster 5m Morgan Parra adds the extras & the gauntlet has been firmly laid by Clermont
Clermont 7-0 Leinster 7m Nigel Owens is referee & his not taking any nonsense from the outset...
Clermont 7-0 Leinster 8m Leinster captain Isa Nacewa is promptly pinged for cynical play - shown yellow
Clermont 10-0 Leinster 9m And Parra converts a simple penalty into 3 more points for a 10-point lead
Clermont 10-0 Leinster 11m Leinster are going to have to buck up their game if they even want a chance
Clermont 10-0 Leinster 13m However, they're still making a hash of it, defensive lineout in own 22 is lost
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 15m And Clermont punish Leinster with a magnificent try from David Strettle
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 17m However, this time it's a conversion too far for Parra from acute angle
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 18m Clearance kick from Clermont out of own 22 after restart...
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 19m Leinster make some inroads as a result of lineout, but it's not for long...
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 20m ...& takes Clermont no time to force play back over halfway & shut Leinster down
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 21m The lineout, the breakdown...nothing is working for Leinster as Clermont head to 22
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 22m Leinster wrestle back possession, but are finding it hard to escape own half
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 23m Leinster make it to halfway, & are summarily stripped of ball at breakdown again
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 24m Clermont set up another attacking lineout just outside Leinster's 22...
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 25m Good lineout & they drive maul towards the tryline before ruck is formed...
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 26m Finally Leinster effect a turnover, Garry Ringrose gets away but Strettle upsets
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 26m Ringrose gets away & Nacewa looks to sprint but the ball's knocked on
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 26m First scrum of game & Clermont go from defensive position to attack again
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 27m Superb work from Strettle; Leinster regain possession but deep in own half
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 28m Time off before Leinster defensive scrum on their 10m in Lyon
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 29m Finally Leinster are on the attack & head to 22 but Richardt Strauss knock on
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 31m Clermont defensive scrum outside their 22 & Camille Lopez thumps it clear
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 32m Ball arrives with Fergus McFadden, but he makes a hash of it...
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 33m Clermont attack back over halfway to inside Leinster 10m before time off
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 33m Parra pinged for holding on at the breakdown so Leinster have the defensive scrum
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 34m Clermont all aggressive again but a foot hits touch before passed back in
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 35m Leinster lineout on halfway - but their nightmare continues for Spedding sprint
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 36m Spedding is shut down, but it's Clermont's scrum in Leinster territory...
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 37m Rhys Ruddock unintentionally tackles Parra as he goes down; penalty Clermont
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 38m Clermont cheekily try to steal a few metres for tee; Owens not impressed...
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 39m ...probably needed it as Parra misses another kick missing 5 points so far
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 40m Leinster have the ball but are not really getting much over halfway
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 40+1m Now Leinster make a few yards & breach Clermont's 22...
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 40+2m ...forced back but penalty coming...& it does but no time for kick to corner
Clermont 15-0 Leinster 40+3m Plenty of jeering & wolf-whistling as Johnny Sexton tees up
Clermont 15-3 Leinster 40+4m Sexton takes his time in sunshine & Leinster go in with 3 much-needed points

Clermont 15-3 Leinster HT T: Yato, Strettle C: Parra P: Parra | P: Sexton Yellow Card Nacewa

Clermont 15-3 Leinster 41m Leinster have returned renewed & charge forcefully into Clermont territory
Clermont 15-3 Leinster 42m They almost definitely have a penalty in the bag already but want more...
Clermont 15-6 Leinster 43m ...but they have to be content with 3 from Sexton's boot
Clermont 15-6 Leinster 44m They don't let up & Leinster are attacking again - different team this half
Clermont 15-6 Leinster 45m Clermont slip up & Leinster secure attacking lineout - & that's working now too
Clermont 15-6 Leinster 46m Leinster charge into the Clermont 22 & have penalty coming
Clermont 15-6 Leinster 47m But Sexton keeps going sensing 5 points are achievable at least...& Ringrose
Clermont 15-6 Leinster 47m Clermont frantic in defence & Nick Abendanon prevents a 7-pointer...
Clermont 15-9 Leinster 48m ...a knock on gives Leinster the penalty & 3 more points from Sexton
Clermont 15-9 Leinster 50m From restart Clermont take back control & Yato sprints towards the 22...
Clermont 15-9 Leinster 51m ...Luke McGrath makes huge tackle forcing the Clermont foot into touch
Clermont 15-9 Leinster 52m Nacewa gets chatty with Owens after Clermont pinged for offside-not having it
Clermont 15-9 Leinster 53m However, it is a penalty for Leinster & ball's tee'd up & held for Sexton...
Clermont 15-12 Leinster 54m ...& Sexton adds 3 more points to reduce deficit to just 3 points
Clermont 15-12 Leinster 56m Dan Leavy thinks he's sealed the comeback with a try, but it's up to TMO
Clermont 15-12 Leinster 56m Clear hold of Aurélien Rougerie's foot by Leavy preventing defence- no try
Clermont 15-12 Leinster 57m Doesn't pay to blatantly cheat - Parra tee's up the penalty kick...
Clermont 18-12 Leinster 58m ...Parra takes lead back to 6 & that could've been a YC for Leavy
Clermont 18-12 Leinster 58m Nacewa also gets away without YC for making contact in air under high ball
Clermont 18-12 Leinster 59m Leinster prepare to put into defensive scrum as La Marseillaise rings out
Clermont 18-12 Leinster 60m Has to be reset but Clermont drive them off it & break, but...
Clermont 18-12 Leinster 61m ...Remi Lamerat's pass is way forward; Leinster scrum again outside 22
Clermont 18-12 Leinster 62m Earlier, Cronin, Molony & Dooley on for Strauss, Triggs & Jack McGrath &...
Clermont 18-12 Leinster 62m ...Lapandry, Ulugia & Penaud on for Yato, Kayser & Rougerie
Clermont 18-12 Leinster 63m Meanwhile, Leinster's scrum doesn't pass muster again & Clermont attack 22
Clermont 21-12 Leinster 64m Can't find whitewash but Lopez elegantly knocks over a drop goal instead
Clermont 21-12 Leinster 65m Clermont a score clear while Gibson-Park & van der Flier for Luke McGrath & Leavy
Clermont 21-12 Leinster 66m Jarvis, Falgoux & Fernandez on for Zirakashvili, Chaume & Lamerat
Clermont 21-12 Leinster 67m Leinster aren't done tho as Ringrose sprints leaving Parra in his wake
Clermont 21-17 Leinster 68m Abendanon can't get to Ringrose either & he scores unhindered
Clermont 21-19 Leinster 69m Sexton doesn't miss conversion & Parra must be ruing his 5 points already
Clermont 21-19 Leinster 70m Jedrasiak & Radosavljevic on for Vahaamahina & Parra
Clermont 24-19 Leinster 71m Meanwhile, Leinster hand over a penalty which Lopez knocks over neatly
Clermont 24-19 Leinster 72m Kirchner & Bent on for McFadden & Furlong
Clermont 24-19 Leinster 73m Kirchner arrives on the field, & his immediate cock up hands over penalty
Clermont 24-19 Leinster 75m Scott Spedding tees up from quite a distance but he's way off uprights
Clermont 24-19 Leinster 76m However, Clermont fans are right behind their team & Lopez has an idea...
Clermont 27-19 Leinster 77m ...& he drops another goal to stretch the lead beyond a score
Clermont 27-19 Leinster 78m A penalty comes for Leinster - too far away for corner kick & lineout...
Clermont 27-22 Leinster 80m ...Sexton adds three points but there's little time to score left
Clermont 27-22 Leinster 80m But Damian Penaud does well to snaffle restart ball & Clermont holds on
Clermont 27-22 Leinster FT And Owens blows that whistle for Clermont's well-deserved place in Final

CLERMONT: Scott Spedding, David Strettle, Aurélien Rougerie, Remi Lamerat, Nick Abendanon, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra, Raphael Chaume, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Arthur Iturria, Sébastien Vahaamahina, DAMIEN CHOULY (C), Peceli Yato, Fritz Lee BENCH: John Ulugia, Etienne Falgoux, Aaron Jarvis, Paul Jedrasiak, Alexandre Lapandry, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Pato Fernandez, Damien Penaud

SCORERS  T: Yato, Strettle C: Parra P: Parra (2), Lopez DG: Lopez (2)

LEINSTER: Joey Carbery, Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, ISA NACEWA (C), Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath, Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs, Rhys Ruddock, Dan Leavy, Jack Conan BENCH: Sean Cronin, Peter Dooley, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Josh van der Flier, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Zane Kirchner

SCORERS T: Ringrose C: Sexton P: Sexton (5) Yellow Card Nacewa

Referee: Nigel Owens Asst Referees: Wayne Barnes, Ian Davies TMO: Jonathan Mason

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Quarter Finals


1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8
ASM Clermont Auvergne

Munster Rugby

Saracens

Leinster Rugby

Wasps

Glasgow Warriors

Toulouse

Toulon

 

QF1
ASM Clermont AuvergneASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE 29 - 6 RC TOULONToulon

Stade Marcel-Michelin - Sunday 02 April 2017
KO: 16:15 HT: 6-6 Att: 18,873

ASM Clermont Auvergne will play Leinster Rugby in the semi-finals of this season's European Rugby Champions Cup after their 29-9 defeat of Toulon. Noa Nakaitaci's try on the hour mark was the crucial moment, and the boot of Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez combined with a late breakaway try from replacement Damian Penaud took Clermont home.

Toulon had just three penalties from Leigh Halfpenny to show for their efforts, as their dreams of a fourth European title in five seasons disappeared.

The wet weather at the Stade Marcel Michelin did not help either team to play, and the two sides turned around level at 6-6 with the boot dominating the contest. Parra and Halfpenny succeeded with two shots at goal apiece, but both were guilty of misses which could have put their team in a better position. In the end, level pegging at half time was a fair result, with both sides struggling to get their backs into the game.

Camille Lopez put a drop goal effort wide for the home side just before the break, but it was Clermont who totally dominated the second period. Halfpenny could only add one more penalty for the visitors, Parra also on the scoresheet again, before at 9-9 Clermont struck for the game's vital score.

Aurélien Rougerie smashed through a couple of Toulon tackles, giving the home side the platform for Lopez to put Nakaitaci into the corner. Parra converted and with that the game was done.

That was not the end of the scoring though as Clermont put their stamp on the game late on. After missing with a penalty effort, Parra then added another three-pointer and converted Penaud's late try after he sprinted clear to add gloss to the scoreline.

CLERMONT: Scott Spedding, Noa Nakaitaci, Aurélien Rougerie, Remi Lamerat, Nick Abendanon, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra, Raphael Chaume, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Arthur Iturria, Sébastien Vahaamahina, DAMIEN CHOULY (C), Peceli Yato, Fritz Lee BENCH: John Ulugia, Etienne Falgoux, Aaron Jarvis, Flip Van Der Merwe, Julien Bardy, Ludovic Radosavljevic , Pato Fernandez, Damien Penaud

SCORERS T: Nakaitaci, Penaud C: Parra (2) P: Parra (4) DG: Lopez

TOULON: Leigh Halfpenny, Drew Mitchell, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana, Francois Trinh-Duc, Eric Escande, Laurent Delboulbès, Guilhem Guirado, Levan Chilachava, Juandré Kruger, Romain Taofifenua, Juan Smith, Liam Gill, DUANE VERMEULEN (C) BENCH: Anthony Etrillard, Florian Fresia, Marcel Van Der Merwe, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Anthony Belleau, Josua Tuisova, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Samu Manoa

SCORERS P: Halfpenny (3)

Referee: Wayne Barnes Asst Referees: Tom Foley, Paul Dix TMO: Rowan Kitt

 

QF2
Leinster RugbyLEINSTER RUGBY 32 - 17 WASPSWasps

Aviva Stadium - Saturday 01 April 2017
KO: 15:15 HT: 22-3 Att: 50,266

LEINSTER survived a spirited second half revival from Wasps as they gained ample revenge for their two big beatings by the English side last season to become the first qualifiers for the Champions Cup semi-finals. They led by 22 points after 48 minutes, with three tries already to their credit, saw the gap cut to eight points on the hour, but then rallied to secure a ninth semi-final. They travel to France to meet ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Matmut Stadium de Gerland in Lyon.

The battle between the top two teams in the PRO12 and Premiership, and Europe's leading try scorers, turned into a bit of a one-way street in the first-half as Leinster dominated possession and territory and conjured up three tries for the crowd of 50,266 to enjoy.

Joey Carberry, fit in at full back for the injured Rob Kearney as a real box of tricks for the home side and played a key role in two of the tries as he showed off his skills to a 50,000 crowd. But as much as Carberry class was the catalyst for the tries, the pace, power and precision of the home forwards that really turned the screw.

Wasps simply could not get enough of the ball, or hold on to it long enough when they did have it to create any real pressure. Kurtley Beale did provide a moment of magic with a brilliant break over half-way to send Willie le Roux racing to the line, but the South African marked his European debut with one of the gaffe's of the season as he dived over the line and lost the ball.

Leinster did not miss a trick after Johnny Sexton had given them an early lead with a penalty. Carberry sent his skipper, Isa Nacewa, over in the left corner with a great, cut-out pass. Le Roux's calamitous moment came in the 25th minute and had they scored then, Wasps could well have taken the lead when Jimmy Gopperth hammered over a 40 metres penalty after 32 minutes.

But instead, Leinster made the most of their good fortune as Carberry returned a loose kick with interest and then acted as the link man to send No8, Jack Conan striding over for a second home try. Sexton added the extras and then played his part in a third try on the stroke of half-time for Robbie Henshaw, 22-3.

The outside half, who chases a fourth European Cup title this season and a fifth European winners medal, converted and then extended the lead to 22 points eight minutes after the break with a further penalty. Wasps looked down and out, but Dai Young changed four players and managed to inject some much needed energy.

One of his replacements, back row man Ashley Johnson, provided Christian Wade with some space on the home 10 metre line with a long pass and the wing kicked ahead and easily won the race for his 16th try of the season. Gopperth made the conversion, but there was still a mountain to climb for the visitors.

Gopperth, playing his 50th game for Wasps against one of his former clubs, provided the inspiration for a further improvement when he beat four men in a 25 metre run to score a try that he also converted. Now there were only eight points in it as the game moved into the final quarter and the next score was going to be crucial.

Leinster grabbed it, and with it the game, as Fergus McFadden picked up a ball laid back on a plate by the charging Devin Toner two metres out for the fourth Leinster try. Sexton converted and that was that.

LEINSTER: Joey Carbery, Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, ISA NACEWA (C), Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath, Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs, Dan Leavy, Sean O'Brien, Jack Conan BENCH: James Tracy, Cian Healy, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Josh van der Flier, Jamison Gibson-Park, Fergus McFadden, Zane Kirchner

SCORERS T: Nacewa, Conan, Henshaw, McFadden C: Sexton (3) P: Sexton (2)

WASPS: Kurtley Beale, Christian Wade, Elliot Daly, Jimmy Gopperth, Willie Le Roux, Danny Cipriani, Dan Robson, Matt Mullan, Tommy Taylor, Jake Cooper-Woolley, JOE LAUNCHBURY (C), Kearnan Myall, James Haskell, Thomas Young, Nathan Hughes BENCH: Ashley Johnson, Simon McIntyre, Martin Moore, Matt Symons, Alex Rieder, Joe Simpson, Alapati Leiua, Josh Bassett

SCORERS T: Wade, Gopperth C: Gopperth (2) P: Gopperth

Referee: Nigel Owens Asst Referees: Romain Poite, Ian Davies TMO: Jonathan Mason

 

QF3
SaracensSARACENS 38 - 13 GLASGOW WARRIORSGlasgow Warriors

Allianz Park - Sunday 02 April 2017
KO: 13:00 HT: 14-3 Att: 15,000

 

SARACENS showed it is going to require something very special to wrestle the Champions Cup out of their grasp as they ran in four tries to make it 16 games without defeat in the tournament. You have to go back to the semi-final in 2015 for their last defeat, 13-9 by ASM Clermont Auvergne, and they are into the last four for the fifth successive season. Now they meet Munster Rugby at the Aviva Stadium in the semi-final.

The Glasgow Warriors arrived with a small army of around 6,000 fans to cheer them on in their first quarter-final, but they were never able to gain enough possession, or create enough phases, to break down the Saracens defence. They managed to stay in the hunt for an hour, Lee Jones' second half try providing them with their best moment as they cut the gap momentarily to six points in the second half. It would have been even closer had Finn Russell not hit the upright with his conversion attempt.

Saracens, however, kept their composure, dominated the final 20 minutes and ended with a flourish of three tries from centres Marcello Bosch and Brad Barritt, flying wing Chris Ashton securing a brace. Ashton scored in both halves to take his European Cup tally to 36 to draw level with Vincent Clerc as the leading try scorer in Champions Cup history.

Ashton could have had a third had the TMO not ruled out his acrobatic effort to score in only the third minute. Fellow wing Sean Maitland also had a try ruled out in the first half.

There was no stopping Ashton when he sniffed the line a second time, rolling over in the tackle when he was hauled down just short to score. Owen Farrell, named Heineken Man of the Match, added the conversion and his boot helped to make it 14-3 at the break.

The Jones try gave the Warriors a glimmer of hope, but Saracens were in no mood to give another inch after being caught out by a deft cross kick from Russell to Jones across the 22 after a scrum. They picked up the pace and stormed back into the game to take complete control with tries from Bosch, who beat four defenders as he weaved his way over from the edge of the 22, and Barritt.

Ashton then equalled Clerc's record with a typical corner finish and Farrell added the extras to take his match tally to 18 points. Ryan Wilson grabbed a consolation try for Glasgow in the last move of the match.

SARACENS: Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, BRAD BARRITT (C), Sean Maitland, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Juan Figallo, Maro Itoje, Jim Hamilton, Michael Rhodes, Jackson Wray, Billy Vunipola BENCH: Schalk Brits, Titi Lamositele, Vincent Koch, Kelly Brown, Joel Conlon, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Duncan Taylor

SCORERS T: Ashton (2), Bosch, Barritt C: Farrell (3) P: Farrell (4)

WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Lee Jones, Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos, Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Brian Alainu'uese, JONNY GRAY (C), Robert Harley, Ryan Wilson, Adam Ashe BENCH: Corey Flynn, Alex Allan, Sila Puafisi, Greg Peterson, Chris Fusaro, Ali Price, Nick Grigg, Rory Hughes

SCORERS T: Jones, Wilson P: Russell

Referee: Jérôme Garcès Asst Referees: Mathieu Raynal, Thomas Charabas TMO: Eric Gauzins

 

QF4
Munster RugbyMUNSTER RUGBY 41 - 16 TOULOUSEToulouse

Thomond Park - Saturday 01 April 2017
KO: 17:45 HT: 13-9 Att: 26,200

MUNSTER booked a 12th semi-final appearance after initially being pushed hard for a 41-16 victory over Toulouse at a nervy Thomond Park. The Irish club seemed to have the last four place in the bag at the break, but Toulouse refused to lie down and a rash of Munster injuries left it in the balance until late;

This was billed as the clash of the 'European Titans', two teams with six European Cup titles between them, both playing a record 157th game in the tournament. But Toulouse are something of a fallen giant these days, a team struggling to keep pace with the big spending clubs in the Top 14 and languishing in 10th place in their domestic league. In the end Stade Toulousain were well and truly beaten.

The French side could not have got off to a worse start at a packed Thomond Park, the venue at which they were beaten 47-23 at the same stage in 2014. The last thing you want to do in Limerick is get the crowd into the game early doors, or give Munster the chance to take an early score. Consequently, No8 Francois Cros can expect a tough time in the match review for needlessly charging into Duncan Williams with his elbow well after the ball was long gone barely moments after the kick off whistle was blown.

The game was less than two minutes old and, by the time the 23-year-old returned, his side were 10 points adrift. It was not quite game over, but it gave the homeside, still riding on the emotional wave of the passing of Anthony Foley, a real grip on the match. Two close range line-outs finally opened up a gap for Heineken man-of-the-match prop John Ryan to drive through for a try at the posts and Tyler Bleyendaal added the extras.

The Kiwi outside half then punished experienced Italian hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini for pulling down and maul and Bleyendaal made it 10 points in as many minutes.

After that, though, Toulouse settled down and used their huge pack to make vital inches. Jean-Marc Doussain kicked three penalties, interspersed with a second from Bleyendaal, and the gap at half-time was probably better than expected at a mere four points at 13-9 especially as it took six camera views from the TMO to deny a try for Bleyendaal after a knock-on was spotted by Tommy O'Donnell.

With the swirling wind behind them, Munster wasted no time in building a cushion. Bleyendaal thumped over a penalty from the half-way line, and then 'go-to' man CJ Stander converted a neat peel from a five metre line-out into typical close range try. Bleyendaal could not improve the try, but he stroked over a simple penalty in front of the posts to make it 11 points in 13 minutes at the start of the second half to extend the lead to 15 points.

A touchline break by Paul Perez and Yoann Maestri was finished by Perez in the left corner, and Doussain landed a magnificent touchline conversion to cut the gap to eight points and keep the door slightly ajar.

But Munster finished the stronger with those late tries from Darren Sweetnam and Andrew Conway, easing home nerves and put a gloss on the final score, with the two-times champions through to their 13th semi-final.

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo, Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, PETER O'MAHONY (C), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander BENCH: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Dave O'Callaghan, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Francis Saili, Andrew Conway

SCORERS T: John Ryan, Stander, Sweetnam, Conway C: Bleyendaal (3) P: Bleyendaal (5)

TOULOUSE: Maxime Médard, Yoann Huget, Florian Fritz, Gael Fickou, Paul Perez, Jean-Marc Doussain, Sébastien Bézy, Cyril Baille, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Census Johnston, Richie Gray, Yoann Maestri, THIERRY DUSAUTOIR (C), Yacouba Camara, Francois Cros BENCH: Julien Marchand, Gurthro Steenkamp, Dorian Aldegheri, Talalelei Gray, Piula Fa’asalele, Joe Tekori, Luke McAlister, Arthur Bonneval

SCORERS T: Perez C: Doussain P: Doussain (3) Yellow Card Cros

Referee: JP Doyle Asst Referees: Greg Garner, Craig Maxwell-Keys TMO: David Grashoff

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Round 6Champions Cup Round 6 Final 8 Qualifiers

POOL 1Champions Cup Round 6 Pool 1

Leicester TigersLEICESTER TIGERS 0 - 43 GLASGOW Glasgow Warriors

Welford Road - Saturday 21 January 2017
KO: 17:30 HT: 0-31 Att: 19,345

GLASGOW WARRIORS stormed into the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals by inflicting a record defeat on Leicester Tigers at Welford Road. The Tigers had never conceded more than five tries in a European match, but Gregor Townsend's men racked up six scores to sail into the last-eight for the first time. The bonus-point was wrapped up before half-time after scores from Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Jonny Gray and a penalty try gave the Scots a 31-0 lead at half-time.

And it was more of the same after the break as Ryan Wilson and Tim Swinson scored to put the cherry on a historic 43-0 triumph at Welford Road. Glasgow advance from Pool 1 as a best runner-up.

Glasgow got off to the perfect start, piling on the pressure from the off and were soon on the attack deep in Leicester territory. The Scotland wing picked up from the base of a ruck after the 27th phase and wrestled his way over to score. Russell converted give his side an early 7-0 lead.

The Scotland playmaker added a penalty moments later, before Matthew Tait was sin-binned for blocking the path of Lee Jones after the wing had chipped ahead. Glasgow went to the corner with the penalty and made their man advantage count immediately. The Warriors pack shunted the Tigers back and Marius Mitrea awarded a penalty try after judging the maul had been pulled down illegally.

It got even worse for the hosts when Russell broke in midfield. He was brought down but the ball was then sent wide to Bennett who crashed over at the corner. And the bonus-point was in the bag before half-time when Gray latched onto a Bennett offload to power over and Russell added the extras at the break.

Glasgow continued to assert their dominance after halftime on their way to becoming the first Scottish side to win at Welford Road for over a century. Wilson pinched a Tigers' lineout and charged downfield before being brought down. The Warriors recycled the ball before Wilson popped up again to crash over from close-range.

Leicester then allowed the Warriors to claim a record for all the wrong reasons. Swinson burrowed over from close range for the sixth try - a record number conceded by the Tigers in European competition.

TIGERS: Matthew Tait, Adam Thompstone, Peter Betham, Jack Roberts, Tom Brady, Freddie Burns, Ben Youngs, Greg Bateman, TOM YOUNGS (C), Dan Cole, Ed Slater, Michael Fitzgerald, Mike Williams, Lachlan McCaffrey, Luke Hamilton BENCH: Harry Thacker, Ellis Genge, Pat Cilliers, Dom Barrow, William Evans, Sam Harrison, Owen Williams, Matt Smith

SCORERS Yellow Card Tait, Genge

WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Lee Jones, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, JONNY GRAY (C), Robert Harley, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss BENCH: Pat MacArthur, Alex Allan, D'Arcy Rae, Brian Alainu'uese, Chris Fusaro, Henry Pyrgos, Nick Grigg, Pete Murchie

SCORERS T: Seymour, PT, Bennett, Gray, Wilson, Swinson C: Russell (5) P: Russell

Referee: Mathieu Raynal Asst Referees: Thomas Charabas, Thomas Dejean TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

 

Munster RugbyMUNSTER RUGBY 22 - 10 RACING 92Racing 92

Thomond Park - Saturday 21 January 2017
KO: 17:30 HT: 7-3 Att: 26,200

IF Munster thought Racing 92 were going to come to Thomond Park and roll over, then they got it hopelessly wrong. Buoyed by their bonus-point win over Leicester Tigers in Round 5, last season's Champions Cup finalists and reigning French champions turned the final game of their campaign into anything but a cakewalk for the home side.

While there was little other than pride to play for in the Racing ranks, Munster were looking to bag a home draw in the quarter-finals the week after clinching their ticket into the last eight. They eventually reached their target, just edging out Champions Cup holders Saracens for the No 2 ranking, but they were made to fight all the way.

Maxime Machenaud got the first chance to set the scoreboard moving after 12 minutes, but he pulled his penalty attempt. In the end, it took 36 minutes of ding-dong action before Simon Zebo crashed over for the first of three Munster tries.

That came moments after Benjamin Dambielle was sent to the sin-bin for stopping Conor Murray getting the ball at the base of a ruck on the Racing line. A score seemed inevitable and Zebo came up with his sixth try in four games against the French side. Tyler Bleyendaal added the conversion, but Machenaud knocked over a penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 7-3 at the break.

The opening 10 minutes of the second half saw Munster put their foot on the accelerator as Bleyendaal kicked a penalty and then converted a try wide out on the left by Ronan O'Mahony.

It looked as though that might be the launch-pad for a push for more points from the home side, but Racing had other ideas. They stayed in the game, worked Henry Chavancy over for a try that Machenaud improved and had the Munster faithful moving onto the edge of their seats with the scoreboard showing 17-10 with 20 minutes to go.

It stayed that way for the next 10 minutes until Ian Keatley made an immediate impact after replacing Zebo by taking an inside pass from Andrew Conway to dive over for the vital third try. Bleyendaal could not convert, but that was job done as far as Munster were concerned, and are back at Thomond Park in the quarter-finals for the ninth time in their history against Toulouse.

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Ronan O'Mahony, Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Donnacha Ryan, PETER O'MAHONY (C), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander BENCH: Rhys Marshall, Dave Kilcoyne, Thomas Du Toit, Billy Holland, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Francis Saili

SCORERS T: Zebo, Ronan O'Mahony, Keatley C: Bleyendaal (2) P: Bleyendaal

RACING: Brice Dulin, Teddy Thomas, Henry Chavancy, Etienne Dussartre, Marc Andreu, Benjamin Dambielle, MAXIME MACHENAUD (C), Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat, Ben Tameifuna, Manuel Carizza, Leone Nakarawa, Yannick Nyanga, Matthieu Voisin, So'otala Fa'aso'o BENCH: Virgile Lacombe, Julien Brugnaut, Cedate Gomes Sa, Ali Williams, Chris Masoe, James Hart, Franck Pourteau, Albert Vulivuli

SCORERS T: Chavancy C: Machenaud P: Machenaud Yellow Card Dambielle

Referee: Marius Mitrea Asst Referees: Matteo Liperini, Simone Boaretto TMO: Alan Falzone

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POOL 2Champions Cup Round 6 Pool 2

ToulouseTOULOUSE 19 - 10 CONNACHT RUGBYConnacht Rugby

Stade Ernest Wallon - Sunday 22 January 2017
KO: 16:15 HT: 14-3 Att: 12,023

TOULOUSE held off a spirited Connacht effort to book their place in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals and deny their Pool 2 rivals.

Connacht knew a losing bonus-point would have been enough to seal a first appearance in the Champions Cup last-eight. But they paid the price for a slow start. Tries from Gaël Fickou, Arthur Bonneval and Joe Tekori put the four-time champions 19-3 ahead at the start of the second-half.

John Muldoon's try gave Pat Lam hope of a place in the quarter-finals, but they failed to find the decisive penalty or drop-goal that would have seen them advance. Toulouse qualify as best runner-up from Pool 2 and will travel to Thomond Park to take-on Munster in a mouthwatering clash at Thomond Park.

Toulouse got off to a ferocious start at Stade Ernest Wallon. Fickou used his fast feet to break in midfield and storm downfield to put the hosts on the front-foot. Cyril Baille was held-up over the line after some heavy pressure, but the breakthrough soon came. The hosts took a quick-tap penalty and hammered away at the try-line, before Sebastien Bézy found Fickou in space, and all he had to do was dive over the try line. Jean Marc Doussain converted for an early 7-0 lead.

It got even better for the four-time European champions after 17 minutes; Yoann Huget sliced through in midfield and charged downfield before finding Bonneval with a perfectly weighted pass. The winger fended off the challenge of Matt Healey to dive over at the corner, and Doussain made it 14-0 with the conversion from the touchline.

Connacht finally got on the scoreboard after 33 minutes with a Craig Ronaldson penalty, before Quinn Roux was shown a yellow card with Toulouse leading 14-3 just before half-time.

The Toulouse power shone through after the break as they gave Connacht a mountain to climb. Some indiscipline from the Irish defence allowed their Pool 2 rivals to pile on the pressure. And they soon cracked as Tekori peeled off the back of a powerful maul to score and make it 19-3.

But just when Connacht needed a leader, Muldoon reignited their quarter-final charge. Peter Robb made good ground with a powerful run down the centre before the ball was shipped to their skipper, who barged his way over. Ronaldson converted to cut the gap to 19-10. But Toulouse held-off Connacht in the final minutes to advance.

TOULOUSE: Yoann Huget, Arthur Bonneval, Yann David, Gael Fickou, Paul Perez, Jean-Marc Doussain, Sébastien Bézy, Cyril Baille, Christopher Tolofua, Census Johnston, Richie Gray, Yoann Maestri, Joe Tekori, THIERRY DUSAUTOIR (C), Francois Cros BENCH: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Vasil Kakovin, Gurthro Steenkamp, Talalelei Gray, Piula Fa'asalele, Gillian Galan, Toby Flood, Alexis Palisson

SCORERS T: Fickou, Bonneval, Tekori C: Doussain (2)

CONNACHT: Tiernan O'Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Peter Robb, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Nepia Fox Matamua, Jake Heenan, JOHN MULDOON (C) BENCH: David Heffernan, JP Cooney, John Andress, Sean O'Brien, Naulia Dawai, John Cooney, Tom Farrell, Danie Poolman

SCORERS T: Muldoon C: Ronaldson P: Ronaldson Yellow Card Roux

Referee: Wayne Barnes Asst Referees: JP Doyle, Peter Allan TMO: David Grashoff

 

ZebreZEBRE RUGBY 27 - 41 WASPSWasps

Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi - Sunday 22 January 2017
KO: 16:15 HT: 13-22 Att: 2,500

 

THIS was supposed to be another easy run around for high-flying Wasps, but it turned out to be anything other than that before they finally secured their trip to Dublin to face Leinster in the quarter-finals. Zebre gave their best performance of the season and led 13-3 midway through the first-half. It was a far cry from the 82-14 massacre they suffered in Round 1 when Wasps ran in 12 tries.

Three months on and the losing margin was reduced to 14 points and they cut the number of Wasps tries in half - and scored three themselves. Had they not lost two players to the sin-bin who knows how much closer they might have got to winning.

Italian outside half Carlo Canna kicked his side into an eighth minute lead and then converted a try four minutes later from international centre Mattia Bellini, who left Kurtley Beale for dead in the Wasps 22. Danny Cipriani got Wasps on the board with a penalty, but then Marcello Violi stepped up to kick a simple home penalty while his half-back partner, Canna, was changing his boots.

Then came the crucial moment for the visitors as Zebre hooker Oliviero Fabiani was sent to the bin for a no-arms tackle. Off the back of the scrum 15 metres out of the home posts, England No8 Nathan Hughes picked up and his back row colleague Ashley Johnson bashed his way over for the first of his two tries.

Cipriani then ghosted his way over for a try which he also converted before England centre Elliot Daly raced to the left corner on the stroke of half-time. Cipriani converted off the touchline and at the break Wasps were leading 22-13.

No sooner had Zebre No8 Derick Minnie picked up his yellow card in the 51st minute for swimming down the side of a ruck than Johnson grabbed the bonus-point try and there was clear daylight. Wasps went on to grab two more tries, a electrifying 30 sprint from Christian Wade and short range crash over from Hughes, but Zebre hit back with two more of their own.

Canna and Bellini set-up full back Kurt Baker for a run-in to the posts, and then replacement lock Federico Ruzza made it three tries in two games against Wasps this season with a close range lunge in the last move of the match.

ZEBRE: Kurt Baker, Lloyd Greeff, Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Boni, Guglielmo Palazzani, CARLO CANNA (C), Marcello Violi, Andrea Lovotti, Oliviero Fabiani, Dario Chistolini, Josh Furno, George Biagi, Maxime Mbandà, Johan Meyer, Derick Minnie BENCH: Tommaso D'Apice, Bruno Postiglioni, Pietro Ceccarelli, Gideon Koegelenberg, Federico Ruzza, Carlo Engelbrecht, Serafin Bordoli, Dries van Schalkwyk

SCORERS T: Bellini, Baker, Ruzza C: Canna (2), Violi P: Canna, Violi Yellow Card Fabiani, Minnie

WASPS: Kurtley Beale, Christian Wade, Elliot Daly, Kyle Eastmond, Frank Halai, Danny Cipriani, Dan Robson, Simon McIntyre, Tommy Taylor, Martin Moore, JOE LAUNCHBURY (C), Matt Symons, Ashley Johnson, James Haskell, Guy Thompson BENCH: Nathan Hughes, Matt Mullan, Phil Swainston, James Gaskell, Thomas Young, Craig Hampson, Jimmy Gopperth, Josh Bassett

SCORERS T: Johnson (2), Cipriani, Daly, Wade, Hughes C: Cipriani (4) P: Cipriani

Referee: David Wilkinson Asst Referees: Frank Murphy, Jonny Erskine TMO: Kevin Beggs

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POOL 3Champions Cup Round 6 Pool 3

Sale SharksSALE SHARKS 25 - 23 SCARLETSScarlets

AJ Bell Stadium - Saturday 21 January 2017
KO: 15:15 HT: 16-10 Att: 4,275

 

SALE SHARKS earned their first victory of the seasoned, ending a 10-match losing run with a 25-23 triumph over Scarlets. Both sides were out of the Pool 3 race heading into Round 6, but the Sharks looked determined to get a victory in this season's competition. Tries from Paulo Odogwu and Will Addison put Sale in a commanding position before DTH van der Merwe's score on the stroke of half-time.

A penalty try brought the Scarlets closer, before Jones landed a penalty to put the Welsh region ahead. But a late AJ MacGinty penalty earned the victory.

Scarlets were caught cold in Salford as the Sharks raced out of the blocks in search of a first Champions Cup triumph. Some heavy pressure resulted in a penalty, which AJ MacGinty converted for a 3-0 lead. Sale's continued their early dominance and were rewarded with a try moments later. The Sharks backline fixed the Welsh defence and spread the ball wide to Odogwu, who dove in acrobatically at the corner. MacGinty missed the conversion but hit another penalty to make it 11-0 after 20 minutes.

It was to get even better for the crowd at the AJ Bell Stadium; Addison received the ball in midfield and sliced through the defence before he accelerated away to score from 50 metres out.

Dan Jones finally got the Scarlets on the scoreboard with a penalty, before DTH van der Merwe gave the West Walians a lifeline. The ball was worked wide for the Canadian to score, and Jones converted to make it 16-10 at half-time.

MacGinty and Jones traded penalties after the interval, but the USA Eagle landed another to put the hosts 22-13 ahead. But the Scarlets bit-back to have Sale fans sweating after 65 minutes. Magnus Lund entered a driving maul from the side after a close-range lineout, and referee Pascal Gaüzère awarded a penalty try and sent Lund to the sin-bin. Jones kicked the conversion to pull Wayne Pivac's men back to within two points.

They hit the front for the first time as Jones landed his fifth penalty from five attempts to give the Scarlets a 23-22 advantage. But MacGinty stepped up again to land one of his own to seal Sale's victory.

SHARKS: Michael Haley, Paulo Odogwu, WILL ADDISON (C), Mark Jennings, Josh Charnley, AJ MacGinty, Mike Phillips, Ross Harrison, Rob Webber, Kieran Longbottom, George Nott, Andrei Ostrikov, Cameron Neild, Magnus Lund, Laurence Pearce BENCH: Neil Briggs, James Flynn, Halani Aulika, Jon Mills, Ben Curry, James Mitchell, Sam James, Thomas Curry

SCORERS T: Odogwu, Addison P: MacGinty (5) Yellow Card Lund

SCARLETS: Aled Thomas, DTH van der Merwe, Jonathan Davies, HADLEIGH PARKES (C), Steff Evans, Dan Jones, Gareth Davies, Rob Evans, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Tadhg Beirne, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay BENCH: Emyr Phillips, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, Tom Price, Will Boyde, Aled Davies, Tom Williams, Steff Hughes

SCORERS T: van der Merwe, PT C: Dan Jones (2) P: Dan Jones (3)

Referee: Pascal Gaüzère Asst Referees: Maxime Chalon, Jean-Luc Rebollal TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin

 

SaracensSARACENS 10 - 3 RC TOULONToulon

Allianz Park - Saturday 21 January 2017
KO: 15:15 HT: 3-0 Att: 10,000

 

HAD Josua Tuisova touched down for what seemed a certain try in the first-half at Allianz Park, then RC Toulon may well have come away with a famous win. But inside of diving over in the right corner on the 4G pitch, the flying Fijian wing tried to place the ball one-handed and lost control at the vital moment. Saracens breathed again, having only just stopped Bryan Habana on the line moments earlier, and eventually ground out a 10-3 win.

The scoreboard barely moved all game and there was only a solitary Owen Farrell penalty to register in an intense first-half. Toulon arrived knowing the bare minimum for them was a losing bonus point if they wanted to keep alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

The quest for reigning champions Saracens was to book a home tie in the last eight by posting a fifth win of the campaign to go with last weekend's last-gasp draw at Parc y Scarlets. That's why the close shaves from both sides - Marcello Bosch was held up on the line for Saracens - will have left the coaches wondering what might have been.

In his 50th appearance in the European Cup, Farrell managed a penalty and a conversion of Chris Ashton's 34th European Cup try - and against the team he will be joining in the summer. His second half effort left Toulon teetering on the brink of extinction, but a 45 metre penalty from Leigh Halfpenny brought them back into bonus-point territory in the end.

The Wales and British & Irish Lions full back hit the post with another wide angled shot and Toulon came close to forcing a draw at the death. Next the visitors prepare for a trip to No 1 ranked side ASM Clermont Auvergne in the quarter-finals, while Saracens need to beat the Glasgow Warriors to secure their semi final berth.

SARACENS: Alex Lozowski, Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, Nick Tompkins, Sean Maitland, OWEN FARRELL (C), Richard Wigglesworth, Richard Barrington, Jamie George, Petrus du Plessis, Maro Itoje, Jim Hamilton, Michael Rhodes, Schalk Burger, Jackson Wray BENCH: Schalk Brits, Titi Lamositele, Juan Figallo, Will Skelton, Kelly Brown, Ben Spencer, Tim Streather, Nathan Earle

SCORERS T: Ashton C: Farrell P: Farrell

TOULON: Leigh Halfpenny, Josua Tuisova, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana, Matt Giteau, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Laurent Delboulbès, Guilhem Guirado, Levan Chilachava, Mamuka Gorgodze, Romain Taofifenua, Juan Smith, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, DUANE VERMEULEN (C) BENCH: Jean-Charles Orioli, Xavier Chiocci, Marcel Van Der Merwe, Liam Gill, Jocelino Suta, Pierre Bernard, Jonathan Pelissié, Samu Manoa

SCORERS P: Halfpenny Yellow Card Vermeulen

Referee: Nigel Owens Asst Referees: Ian Davies, Gwyn Morris TMO: Jonathan Mason

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POOL 4Champions Cup Round 6 Pool 4

Castres OlympiqueCASTRES OLYMPIQUE 24 - 24 LEINSTERLeinster Rugby

Stade Pierre Antoine - Friday 20 January 2017
KO: 20:45 HT: 17-10 Att: 7,040

 

LEO CULLEN and his Leinster players earned a home quarter-final despite being held to a draw in Castres. There were two tries apiece for home star David Smith and Leinster's Irish centre Robbie Henshaw as the visitors discovered just how hard it is to win at Stade Pierre Antoine. Castres may have been out of the running for a place in the last eight, but they put up a huge fight.

In the end, it took a magnificent rearguard effort from pool winners Leinster, who were reduced to 14 men for the final four minutes when Mike McCarthy went to the sin-bin, to hold on for the draw and two vital points.

Leinster went out of the blocks at breakneck speed and were 10 points ahead in as many minutes thanks to an early Johnny Sexton penalty and conversion of the first of Henshaw's tries. But then the Irish playmaker limped out of the battle midway through the first half - they also lost sipper Isa Nacewa later on - to be replaced by Ross Byrne.

Just before Sexton left, Castres hit back with a try by scrum half Antoine Dupont and was converted by Julien Dumora to cut the gap to three points. Dumora then levelled things up on the half-hour before Smith struck with the first of his tries on the end of a sweet back line passing move for a try that Dumora converted to make it 17-10 at the break.

It seemed as though Leinster had steadied the ship two minutes into the second half when Adam Byrne came off his wing to act as first receiver from a scrum in the home 22 and make the break that allowed Henshaw to cross at the posts for his second try. Ross Byrne's conversion drew Leinster level, but they made too many mistakes, and snubbed too many chances, to build on that great start to the second half.

Leinster did tighten up on the defence - they missed 17 tackles in the first-half -but could not stop Smith scoring his second try at the foot of the right hand upright for a try that Dumora improved to make it 24-17 to the home side. Leinster got a chance to strike when Pierre Berard was sent to the sin-bin on 62 minutes. A minute later, replacement back row man Dan Leavy barged his way over from close range and Ross Byrne converted to level the scores again.

But it was Castres, who grew stronger as the game went on as they introduced more of their front line players, who finished the stronger and put Leinster under intense pressure.

CASTRES: Pierre Berard, Julien Caminati, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Florian Vialelle, David Smith, Julien Dumora, Antoine Dupont, Antoine Tichit, Brice Mach, Daniel Kotze, Victor Moreaux, RODRIGO CAPO ORTEGA (C), Yannick Caballero, Alexandre Bias, Steve Mafi BENCH: Jody Jenneker, Mihaïta Lazar, Damien Tussac, Loic Jacquet, Anthony Jelonch, Julien Seron, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Thomas Combezou

SCORERS T: Dupont, Smith (2) C: Dumora (3) P: Dumora Yellow Card Berard

LEINSTER: ISA NACEWA (C), Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Rory O'Loughlin, Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath, Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Tadhg Furlong, Ross Molony, Devin Toner, Jack Conan, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip BENCH: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Mike McCarthy, Dan Leavy, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Rob Kearney

SCORERS T: Henshaw (2), Leavy C: Sexton, Ross Byrne (2) P: Sexton Yellow Card McCarthy

Referee: Greg Garner Asst Referees: Tom Foley, Paul Dix TMO: David Rose

 

MontpellierMONTPELLIER 26 - 17 NORTHAMPTON SAINTSNorthampton Saints

Altrad Stadium - Friday 20 January 2017
KO: 20:45 HT: 7-10 Att: 4,900

 

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS went down to their fourth defeat in six Champions Cup pool matches as they were beaten by a Montpellier side inspired by giant Fiji wing Nemani Nadolo, who created one score and crossed for two individual efforts of his own, the Saints unable to cope with his raw power in the contact area.

Tries from Kelian Galletier and Jacques Du Plessis came either side of Nadolo's first to put the home side in command and when the man of the match completed his brace late on, his team were home and hosed. Demetri Catrakilis added three conversions as visiting tries from Lee Dickson and Tom Kessell were their last two scores of a European campaign to forget.

Northampton, who have had a nightmare Champions Cup experience, made nine changes with a place in the quarter-finals well beyond them and it was Montpellier who started the game with a bang. Nadolo's power game is well known, but on this occasion it was his precision passing which gave his team an early lead. Attracting three Northampton tacklers, Nadolo bounced one and then offloaded out of the tackle with a sublime flick to release Galletier to score in the corner. Catrakilis added the extras.

At that stage the Saints were up against it, but after Montpellier lost Alexandre Dumoulin to injury and failed to make the most of their possession, Jim Mallinder's men hit back. From a scrum, powerful surges from Teimana Harrison and Ethan Waller splintered the French defence, allowing scrum-half and captain Dickson to sneak over from close range. JJ Hanrahan converted and then kicked a penalty and despite being under the cosh for the opening quarter, Saints turned around with a 10-7 half-time lead.

Mallinder's side thought they had added to their advantage at the start of the second period too. A set-piece move saw Ahsee Tuala break clear. The full-back sprinted for the line and found George North inside him, but after referee John Lacey consulted the TMO, the score was ruled out for Tuala's foot in touch. Harry Mallinder then put a monster drop goal effort wide, before Nadolo continued to wreak more havoc.

Given the ball tight to the touchline, Nadolo looked a long way from the line but he bounced off five tacklers - North the last - to power to the line for a score eerily similar to that by the late Jonah Lomu against England at the 1995 World Cup.

That score was followed by a driving line-out try for replacement du Plessis and with Catrakilis converting both efforts, Northampton were now up against it at 21-10 down. Montpellier did not let up their assault as they chased the vital bonus-point score and Nadolo powered over from a scrum to seal the win late on. Catrakilis missed the conversion and Kessell grabbed a late consolation.

MONTPELLIER: Joffrey Michel, Timoci Nagusa, Joseph Tomane, Alexandre Dumoulin, Nemani Nadolo, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic White, Mikheil Nariashvili, Charles Geli, Jannie Du Plessis, Paul Willemse, Konstantine Mikautadze, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Kelian Galletier, AKAPUSI QERA (C) BENCH: Shalva Mamukashvili, Yvan Watremez, Antoine Guillamon, Jacques Du Plessis, Antoine Battut, Tomas O'Leary, Henry Immelman, Vincent Martin

SCORERS T: Galletier, Nadolo (2), Jannie du Plessis C: Catrakilis (3)

SAINTS: Ahsee Tuala, Juan Pablo Estelles, Nafi Tuitavake, Harry Mallinder, George North, JJ Hanrahan, LEE DICKSON (C), Ethan Waller, Charlie Clare, Paul Hill, Michael Paterson, James Craig, Jamie Gibson, Ben Nutley, Teimana Harrison BENCH: James Fish, Alex Waller, Kieran Brookes, Api Ratuniyarawa, Lewis Ludlam, Tom Kessell, James Wilson, Ken Pisi

SCORERS T: Dickson, Kessell C: Hanrahan (2) P: Hanrahan

Referee: John Lacey Asst Referees: Gary Conway, Dermot Blake TMO: Olly Hodges

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POOL 5Champions Cup Round 6 Pool 5

Ulster RugbyULSTER RUGBY 22 - 26 BORDEAUX-BÈGLESBordeaux Bègles

Kingspan Stadium - Saturday 21 January 2017
KO: 13:00 HT: 15-20 Att: 14,924

 

BORDEAUX BÈGLES piled more misery on Ulster Rugby with a 22-26 victory in their European Rugby Champions Cup encounter at Kingspan Stadium. Two late penalties from replacement Simon Hickey did the business for the French side as they ended the pool stages on a high and left Ulster contemplating back-to-back defeats.

Bordeaux were outscored three tries to two but still came out on top as the boot of Ian Madigan and Hickey's late salvo off the bench saw them come out on top. With the two teams unable to make the quarter-finals, both decided to go hell for leather from the off and the result was an entertaining encounter.

The first half hour saw two tries apiece, the away side the ones to open the scoring. Scrum-half Yann Lesgourgues crossed for Bordeaux's first, Irish fly-half Madigan converting on his return to home soil. Ulster were disappointing in defeat to Exeter in their last encounter and their concession of an early try spurred them into life. Andrew Trimble hit back in the 19th minute, Paddy Jackson adding the extras to level the scores, but that did not stop the rate of scoring.

Within five minutes, Cardiff Blues-bound lock Franco Van der Merwe and Bordeaux No 8 Marco Tauleigne had exchanged scores with Madigan succeeding with his conversion where international team-mate Jackson could not.

Madigan had earlier booted penalties in both the second and 32nd minute but after Bordeaux full-back Geoffrey Cros was yellow carded on the verge of half time for slowing down the ball with Ulster pushing for the line, Jackson kicked another goal to narrow his team's interval deficit to five points, 15-20.

With a man advantage at the start of the second period, Ulster had designs on getting back into things but a raft of changes hit their momentum. David Shanahan and Robbie Diack were among those to leave the field, and the substitutions played a big part in a scoreless first 19 minutes after the break.

But just before the hour mark, Ulster secured a vital score as outside centre Darren Cave crashed over. Jackson converted to put the Irishmen ahead going into the final quarter and at that stage everything pointed to a home win in the last round of pool matches.

Ulster, though, have been struggling of late and they failed to close out the game once again. In the final 10 minutes they coughed up two penalties which Hickey converted to give the visitors the win.

ULSTER: Charles Piutau, Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, ANDREW TRIMBLE (C), Paddy Jackson, David Shanahan, Andy Warwick, Rory Best, Jonny Simpson, Robbie Diack, Franco Van Der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Sean Reidy BENCH: John Andrew, Callum Black, Ricky Lutton, Kieran Treadwell, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Brett Herron, Craig Gilroy

SCORERS T: Trimble, van der Merwe, Cave C: Jackson (2) P: Jackson

BORDEAUX: Geoffrey Cros, Nans Ducuing, Jean-Baptiste Dubié, Joe Wakacegu, Blair Connor, Ian Madigan, Yann Lesgourgues, Steven Kitshoff, CLEMENT MAYNADIER (C), Marc Clerc, Tom Palmer, Berend Botha, Louis Madaule, Loann Goujon, Marco Tauleigne BENCH: Benat Auzqui, Sébastien Taofifenua, Vadim Cobilas, Joe Edwards, Hugh Chalmers, Julien Audy, Simon Hickey, Julien Rey

SCORERS T: Lesgourgues, Tauleigne C: Madigan (2) P: Madigan (2), Hickey (2) Yellow Card Cros

Referee: Matt Carley Asst Referees: Luke Pearce, Gareth Copsey TMO: Geoff Warren

 

ASM Clermont AuvergneCLERMONT AUVERGNE 48 - 26 EXETER CHIEFSExeter Chiefs

Stade Marcel-Michelin - Saturday 21 January 2017
KO: 14:00 HT: 34-0 Att: 17,201

 

ASM Clermont Auvergne are top seeds in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals after romping to a 48-26 victory over Exeter Chiefs. Five first-half tries sealed the bonus-point and a return to Stade Marcel Michelin in the last-eight, before Rob Baxter's men fought-back to claim an unlikely try-scoring bonus-point. Benjamin Kayser and Noa Nakaitaci set the tone with scores in the first 10 minutes, before Wesley Fofana, Nick Abendanon and a penalty try earned a 34-0 lead at the break.

James Short pulled a try back before Peceli Yato and Alexandre Lapandry crossed, but scores from Ollie Devoto, Ollie Woodburn and Michele Campagnaro underlined Exeter's never-say-die attitude. Clermont knew a bonus-point victory would guarantee top seeding for the quarter-finals, and they got off to the perfect start.

Morgan Parra found the corner with a kick from the base of a ruck to put the pressure on the Chiefs. Jack Yeandle overthrew the lineout into the grateful hands of Kayser, who crashed over to score on his 80th appearance in Europe's premier competition. Parra converted to make it 7-0 after four minutes, and they did not have to wait long for a second score. Yato put Clermont on the front-foot before the ball was worked wide to Remy Lamerat. The centre delivered a perfectly weighted pass to Noa Nakaitaci, who sprinted down the right wing to score.

Parra added a penalty to make it 15-0 before Ollie Woodburn gifted Clermont a third try after 23 minutes. The Exeter wing chased Abendanon back before slapping a pass meant for Fofana into touch to deny a try. But referee Andrew Brace awarded a penalty try that was converted by Parra after consulting with the TMO, and sent Woodburn for 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

Devoto followed short after for a high-shot on Abendanon, and Fofana exploited the fractured defence to score the bonus-point try after half an hour. Abendanon then crashed over for his fifth Champions Cup try in as many matches to put the hosts 34-0 ahead at half-time.

Devoto broke clean through in the first minute of the second-half before Jack Maunder sent Short over for a converted try. But Yato peeled off a lineout moments later and charged through a gap to restore their 34 point lead, and Lapandry went over on the 50 minute mark to put Clermont 48-7 ahead.

Exeter then staged a comeback to earn a try-scoring bonus-point of their own. First Devoto strolled over after an offload from Woodburn, before he turned scorer for the second. Campagnaro then sprinted down the right wing to grab a try-scoring bonus-point, but it was too little, too late.

CLERMONT: Scott Spedding, Noa Nakaitaci, Remi Lamerat, Wesley Fofana, Nick Abendanon, Camille Lopez, MORGAN PARRA (C), Raphael Chaume, Benjamin Kayser, Aaron Jarvis, Arthur Iturria, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Peceli Yato, Alexandre Lapandry, Fritz Lee BENCH: John Ulugia, Vincent Debaty, Davit Zirakashvili, Paul Jedrasiak, Damien Chouly, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Aurélien Rougerie, Alivereti Raka

SCORERS T: Kayser, Nakaitaci, PT, Fofana, Abendanon, Yato, Lapandry C: Parra (5) P: Parra

CHIEFS: Phil Dollman, Olly Woodburn, Michele Campagnaro, Ollie Devoto, James Short, GARETH STEENSON (C), Jack Maunder, Ben Moon, Jack Yeandle, Tom Francis, Ollie Atkins, Jonny Hill, Don Armand, Kai Horstmann, Tom Waldrom BENCH: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Moray Low, Harry Williams, Damian Welch, Tom Johnson, Stu Townsend, Ian Whitten, Joe Simmonds

SCORERS T: Short, Devoto, Woodburn, Campagnaro C: Steenson (2), Simmonds Yellow Card Woodburn, Devoto

Referee: Andrew Brace Asst Referees: Dudley Phillips, Kieran Barry TMO: Simon McDowell

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Round 5

POOL 1Champions Cup Round 5 Pool 1

Glasgow WarriorsGLASGOW WARRIORS 12 - 14 MUNSTER Munster Rugby

Scotstoun Stadium - Saturday 14 January 2017
KO: 17:30 HT: 6-6 Att: 7,351

FRANCIS SAILI scored a crucial late try to give Munster a narrow 14-12 victory over Glasgow Warriors and send them through the quarter-finals of the European Rugby Champions Cup. Saili, who replaced Jaco Taute in the second half, came up trumps with the game's only try in the final 10 minutes as the visitors made the most of a yellow card for Stuart Hogg.

A tight match saw the boot dominate, but when it mattered most Saili's effort proved the difference between the teams. A man light late on, Glasgow pushed to move back ahead but Finn Russell opted against a drop goal shot and his team went down to defeat.

At a packed Scotstoun, the game did not disappoint. A tight first period ended level at 6-6, the two sets of forwards going hell for leather at each other on a chilly Scottish night. Glasgow fly-half Russell swapped penalties with opposite number Tyler Bleyendaal in an opening quarter which saw physicality and defensive organisation dominate proceedings. Munster initially looked the more dangerous in attack, but after failing to make the most of a number of penalties, they slipped behind. Lions prospect Hogg nailed a long-range penalty to put Glasgow 6-3 up but after Bleyendaal had booted another kick and Hogg missed with a second monster effort, the two teams went into the break level.

The start of the second period saw Russell and Bleyendaal then exchange further kicks at goal as the second 40 went a similar way to the first. Conor Murray's sublime kicking game ensured Munster kept things tight defensively, a big line-out steal in the 54th minute summing up their effort. For all their resilience, though, the Irish side struggled in their search for a try and Russell's third penalty of the evening made it 12-9 on the hour mark.

A raft of replacements were then introduced, but the key moment arrived with 10 minutes remaining. A Munster attack saw Andrew Conway put into space and the right wing looked like he was going to make it to the line. He was scragged round the neck by Hogg and although the decision not to award a penalty try was the right one, the full-back correctly saw yellow. Munster immediately took advantage and Saili's try came less than a minute after Hogg walked from the field. That, in the end, proved to be the winning moment.

WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Lee Jones, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, JONNY GRAY (C), Robert Harley, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss BENCH: Pat MacArthur, Alex Allan, D'Arcy Rae, Matt Fagerson, Chris Fusaro, Grayson Hart, Nick Grigg, Pete Murchie

SCORERS P: Russell (3), Hogg Yellow Card Hogg

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Donnacha Ryan, PETER O'MAHONY (C), Jack O'Donoghue, CJ Stander BENCH: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Thomas Du Toit, Dave Foley, Billy Holland, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Francis Saili

SCORERS T: Saili P: Bleyendaal (3)

Referee: Luke Pearce Asst Referees: Matt Carley, Wayne Falla TMO: Graham Hughes

 

Racing 92RACING 92 34 - 3 LEICESTER TIGERSLeicester Tigers

Stade Yves-Du-Manoir - Saturday 14 January 2017
KO: 20:45 HT: 22-3 Att: 5,449

RACING 92 whitewashed Leicester Tigers 34-3 to secure bonus-point success at Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir.

In their second game under interim coach Aaron Mauger, the two-times champions English outfit struggled to cope with the power of the French side and paid the price for a huge number of mistakes. Xavier Chauveau, Marc Andreu and Gerbrandt Grobler all crossed in the first half and a penalty try after the break ended the game as a contest. Leicester did improve in a tighter second period but were unable to come up with a try of their own and Andreu completed the scoring late on to send them out of Europe.

The English side had been thrashed by both Glasgow and Munster on the road earlier this season, and the early exchanges in Paris only pointed to another one-sided encounter. Scrum-half Chauveau soon crossed for the game's opening score in the 12th minute. Dan Carter missed the conversion but then booted a penalty before the New Zealander saw his team extend their advantage. The next score was all Leicester's fault, the Tigers opting to run the ball clear but then turning it over. Andreu was the beneficiary, hacking on and dotting down under the posts. Carter added the simple extras to make it 15-0 and with a quarter of the game gone, the visitors were in trouble. Ben Youngs' exasperation summed things up and although Leicester did finally get themselves on the board with a Freddie Burns penalty, Racing soon moved further clear. Carter missed with a penalty effort but Matt Tait knocked on behind the posts, handing the French side a scrum five metres out. From the set-piece lock Grobler powered over for another try Mauger's side could easily have prevented. Carter converted for a 22-3 half-time lead.

Racing's giant pack had finally turned up in Europe and another powerful forward surge saw them secure a bonus point soon after the restart. A driving maul from a line-out was stopped illegally by the Tigers, referee Ben Whitehouse rightly going under the posts to award a penalty try. Will Evans was yellow carded for his role in trying to prevent the score, with Carter once again adding the extras. Antoine Claassen's sinbinning for dragging down a Leicester maul then made it 14-a-side, but the Tigers were still having no luck. What looked like a legitimate try was adjudged to have been held up by Whitehouse and then the Welsh official decided Burns' kick to touch had gone dead. The two incidents did not help Leicester's mood and Andreu's second with a couple of minutes to go compounded a miserable evening for the visitors.

RACING: Brice Dulin, Joe Rokocoko, Henry Chavancy, Casey Laulala, Marc Andreu, Dan Carter, Xavier Chauveau, Eddy Ben Arous, Virgile Lacombe, Luc Ducalcon, Gerbrandt Grobler, FRANCOIS VAN DER MERWE (C), Antonie Claassen, Matthieu Voisin, So'otala Fa'aso'o BENCH: Camille Chat, Viliamu Afatia, Ben Tameifuna, Ali Williams, Olivier Missoup, James Hart, Benjamin Dambielle, Albert Vulivuli

SCORERS T: Chauveau, Andreu (2), Grobler, PT C: Carter (3) P: Carter Yellow Card Claassen

TIGERS: Matthew Tait, Adam Thompstone, Peter Betham, Matt Smith, Tom Brady, Freddie Burns, Ben Youngs, Ellis Genge, TOM YOUNGS (C), Dan Cole, Ed Slater, Graham Kitchener, Mike Williams, William Evans, Lachlan McCaffrey BENCH: Harry Thacker, Greg Bateman, Pat Cilliers, Michael Fitzgerald, Luke Hamilton, Jonathon Kitto, Sam Harrison, Jack Roberts

SCORERS P: Burns Yellow Card Evans

Referee: Ben Whitehouse Asst Referees: Sean Brickell, Gwyn Morris TMO: Jonathan Mason

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POOL 2Champions Cup Round 5 Pool 2

Connacht RugbyCONNACHT RUGBY 66 - 21 ZEBRE RUGBYZebre

The Sportsground - Saturday 14 January 2017
KO: 13:00 HT: 40-14 Att: 5,607

CONNACHT RUGBY thrashed a poor Zebre outfit 66-21 to record a bonus-point success and keep up their hopes of reaching the last eight of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Pat Lam's men ran in six tries before the break to take total control of the game despite Zebre crossing for two themselves early on. But there was only ever going to be one winner in this encounter as Connacht added four more tries in the second half. It completed a miserable few days in Ireland for Zebre after they followed their 10-try Guinness PRO12 loss to Leinster last weekend by conceding the same number of tries in Galway to go down to their 17th successive European defeat, leaving Connacht to turn their attentions to the next weekend's crunch visit to Toulouse.

A fast start saw both sides score two tries inside an entertaining opening quarter. With less than 90 seconds on the clock, man of the match, Tiernan O'Halloran's searing break allowed Matt Healy to go over in the corner, John Cooney converting for a 7-0 lead. Zebre have had a miserable Champions Cup campaign but with nothing to lose, they rolled the dice and soon hit back. Back-row forwards Johan Meyer and Federico Ruzza crossed for two quick-fire scores from close range and with Italian fly-half Carlo Canna adding the extras, it was now 14-7 to the visitors.

A capacity Sportsground crowd were shocked but with Zebre vulnerable defensively, it was not long before their team were back ahead and with a bonus point too. With Kieran Marmion looking dangerous at scrum-half, Cooney sprinted clear to score before O'Halloran collected the fly-half's delicate chip through to dot down underneath the posts. Cooney converted both scores before prop Finlay Bealham crossed from a rolling maul for the crucial fourth of the day. Cooney kicked the goal once more to make it 28-14 and it was not long before the wheels fell off for Zebre.  The visitors struggled with discipline and their penalty count was through the roof, so it was no surprise when Lloyd Greef and Pietro Cecccarelli were both yellow carded in quick succession. Down to 13 men, Zebre's already failing defence then fell apart, Marmion crossing himself and then setting up Craig Ronaldson for another just before half time. Cooney converted the second of those scores to make it 40-14 at the break.

Zebre began the second half two men light and the action continued to follow a familiar pattern. Just seconds after the restart, Healy brushed off some woeful tackling to score in the corner and O'Halloran then added his second of the game. Cooney's kicking was superb and two more conversions took him to 19 points for the day. The return of Greef and Cecccarelli helped Zebre shore things up a touch and while Marmion crossed for Connacht's ninth after running another superb support line, the visitors did not go away. After finally finding some possession, Mattia Bellini scored their third try, with Canna converting. By that stage both teams had made a raft of changes, but that failed to stop the scoring as Connacht replacement Caolin Blade made it 10 home tries on the day to complete the rout late on.

CONNACHT: Tiernan O'Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Rory Parata, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy, John Cooney, Kieran Marmion, Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Lewis Stevenson, James Cannon, Sean O'Brien, Eoin McKeon, JOHN MULDOON (C) BENCH: David Heffernan, JP Cooney, John Andress, James Connolly, Naulia Dawai, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell, Danie Poolman

SCORERS T: Healy (2), John Cooney, O'Halloran (2), Bealham, Marmion (2), Ronaldson, Blade C: John Cooney (8)

ZEBRE: Kurt Baker, Lloyd Greeff, Edoardo Padovani, Mattia Bellini, Guglielmo Palazzani, Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi, Andrea Lovotti, Carlo Festuccia, Pietro Ceccarelli, Gideon Koegelenberg, Valerio Bernabo, MAXIME MBANDÀ (C), Johan Meyer, Federico Ruzza BENCH: Oliviero Fabiani, Andrea de Marchi, Dario Chistolini, Josh Furno, George Biagi, Carlo Engelbrecht, Derick Minnie, Serafin Bordoli

SCORERS T: Meyer, Ruzza, Bellini C: Canna (3) Yellow Card Greeff, Ceccarelli

Referee: Tom Foley Asst Referees: Ian Tempest, Greg Garner TMO: Sean Davey

 

WaspsWASPS 17 - 14 TOULOUSEToulouse

Ricoh Arena - Saturday 14 January 2017
KO: 15:15 HT: 3-0 Att: 17,248

 

DAN ROBSON'S quick thinking at the death earned Wasps a dramatic 17-14 triumph over Toulouse in a classic European Rugby Champions Cup battle.

Wasps had a golden chance to score in the opening exchanges after Jimmy Gopperth's perfectly weighted kick sent Christian Wade flying down his right wing. Wade passed inside to Kurtley Beale, who was caught as he tried to cut inside to the posts. The ball was worked to Josh Bassett, but somehow Wasps failed to get over the line. Jean Marc Doussain wasted two penalty opportunities that would have given Toulouse a 6-0 lead. But Gopperth showed him how it is done after half-an-hour when he split the uprights with his first kick of the game. And it remained 3-0 until half-time.

Toulouse are no strangers to tight European contests, and wrestled the lead back from Wasps after 52 minutes. Captain Thierry Dusautoir made the initial break in centre-field before the ball was worked to Yoann Huget, who barged over the line and got the ball down over the line for his sixth try in as many matches. But the Ricoh Arena was sent into raptures when Wasps finally unlocked the uncompromising Toulouse defence. Elliot Daly received the ball, jinked past Dusautoir in midfield and sprinted 40 metres to score at the posts. Gopperth added the extras to give the hosts a 10-7 advantage with 17 minutes to play.

Toulouse looked to have snatched it in the 72nd minute. The Wasps scrum disintegrated under some heavy pressure to allow the visitors to rumble towards the line. Danny Cipriani came in at the side to steal the ball illegally and referee John Lacey awarded a penalty try and sent Cipriani to the sin-bin. Doussain landed the conversion to give Toulouse a 14-10 lead. But Robson took a quick tap penalty and burrowed over the line to snatch a crucial victory at the death.

Connacht top the standings after five rounds, but face a trip to a hurting Toulouse side the next  week. Wasps only have to beat winless Zebre in Italy to advance.

WASPS: Kurtley Beale, Christian Wade, Elliot Daly, Jimmy Gopperth, Josh Bassett, Danny Cipriani, Joe Simpson, Matt Mullan, Ashley Johnson, Martin Moore, JOE LAUNCHBURY (C), Kearnan Myall, Thomas Young, Guy Thompson, Nathan Hughes BENCH: Edd Shervington, Simon McIntyre, Phil Swainston, Matt Symons, James Gaskell, Dan Robson, Kyle Eastmond, Frank Halai

SCORERS T: Daly, Robson C: Gopperth (2) P: Gopperth Yellow Card Wade, Cipriani

TOULOUSE: Maxime Médard, Kunatani Kunabuli, Yann David, Gael Fickou, Yoann Huget, Jean-Marc Doussain, Sébastien Bézy, Cyril Baille, Christopher Tolofua, Census Johnston, Richie Gray, Joe Tekori, THIERRY DUSAUTOIR (C), Talalelei Gray, Francois Cros BENCH: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Vasil Kakovin, Dorian Aldegheri, Yoann Maestri, Piula Fa'asalele, Gillian Galan, Toby Flood, Arthur Bonneval

SCORERS T: Huget, PT C: Doussain (2)

Referee: John Lacey Asst Referees: Sean Gallagher, Barrie O'Connell TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon

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POOL 3Champions Cup Round 5 Pool 3

ScarletsSCARLETS 22 - 22 SARACENSSaracens

Parc y Scarlets - Sunday 15 January 2017
KO: 13:00 HT: 9-5 Att: 7,491

 

CHRIS ASHTON'S try at the death broke Welsh hearts and salvaged a 22-22 draw for defending European champions Saracens.

The West Walians raced out of the blocks and had two early chances to get over the whitewash. Dan Jones' cross-field kick did not bounce kindly for Sarries-bound Liam Williams, before captain Ken Owens fumbled on the try line. They did go three points ahead thanks to a Jones penalty moments later, after a powerful scrum under the posts, but their advantage did not last for long as the European champions turned on the power. A driving lineout was stopped short of the line, but wave after wave of carries weakened the Scarlets' rearguard. Richard Wigglesworth fired a pass to Alex Lozowski, who cushioned the ball into the path of Nathan Earle, a late replacement for injured Chris Wyles, who dived over for his second Champions Cup try.

The Scarlets' response was immediate. Jonny McNicholl was dragged into touch just short of the line, but Jones was on-target with a penalty moments later to retake the lead. He made it three from three moments later, before Owen Farrell missed a penalty of his own to keep the gap at four points at half-time, 9-5.

Four quickly became seven after another Dan Jones penalty, but the champions scored a try from nowhere to level it up. The Scarlets were repelling Sarries, before a loose ball was scooped up by Farrell who sent Lozowski flying through a gap in midfield and the full-back found Ashton - who crossed for his 32nd European Cup try. The hosts went straight back down the other end before Scott Williams punctured the Sarries defence to score from close range. Wayne Pivac would have been pleased with the way his charges kept the ball deep in Sarries territory, until Jones snatched at a drop-goal. Liam Williams failed to deal with the long restart and Steffan Evans gifted them a penalty to cut the gap to 19-15. Jones nailed his fifth penalty to make it 22-15 before Will Skelton was sin-binned. But Farrell broke clean through in true champion form and sent Ashton in at the posts, before converting to rescue a draw and two points to secure qualification for the quarter finals.

Saracens will advance from Pool 3 and know a win against RC Toulon will guarantee a home tie in the last eight, while the Scarlets' slim hopes of qualifying are over despite another heroic performance.

SCARLETS: Liam Williams, Johnny McNicholl, Hadleigh Parkes, Scott Williams, Steff Evans, Dan Jones, Aled Davies, Rob Evans, KEN OWENS (C), Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Tadhg Beirne, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay BENCH: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, Tom Price, Will Boyde, Jonathan Evans, Aled Thomas, Jonathan Davies

SCORERS T: Scott Williams C: Dan Jones P: Dan Jones (5)

SARACENS: Alex Lozowski, Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, Nick Tompkins, Nathan Earle, OWEN FARRELL (C), Richard Wigglesworth, Richard Barrington, Schalk Brits, Juan Figallo, Maro Itoje, Jim Hamilton, Michael Rhodes, Schalk Burger, Jackson Wray BENCH: Jamie George, Titi Lamositele, Vincent Koch, Will Skelton, Kelly Brown, Ben Spencer, Tim Streather, Matt Gallagher

SCORERS T: Earle, Ashton (2) C: Farrell (2) P: Farrell Yellow Card Skelton

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz Asst Referees: Adrien Descottes, Thomas Dejean TMO: Eric Gauzins

 

ToulonRC TOULON 27 - 12 SALE SHARKS Sale Sharks

Stade Félix Mayol - Sunday 15 January 2017
KO: 16:15 HT: 5-7 Att: 12,315

 

TOULON: Leigh Halfpenny, James O'Connor, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana, Pierre Bernard, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Laurent Delboulbès, Guilhem Guirado, Marcel Van Der Merwe, Jocelino Suta, Samu Manoa, Liam Gill, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, DUANE VERMEULEN (C) BENCH: Jean-Charles Orioli, Florian Fresia, Levan Chilachava, Juan Smith, Matt Giteau, Josua Tuisova, Jonathan Pelissié, Mamuka Gorgodze

SCORERS  T: Nonu, Ha

THE three-time former champions’ win never seriously looked in doubt, but two tries in the final four minutes earned RC Toulon a priceless bonus-point and kept them in the hunt for a Champions Cup quarter-final place after their 27-7 triumph over Sale Sharks, keeping them in contention for a Pool 3 win.

Toulon got off to a flying start with Ma'a Nonu's first Champions Cup try coming in only the second minute. Leigh Halfpenny could not add the extras and that gave the Sharks the chance to bite back with a thrilling kick and chase try from Sam James. The outside half chipped over the first line of defence on half-way, beat three Toulon players by regathering the wicked bounce and then raced to the posts for a try which acting skipper Will Addison converted. Addison had the chance to increase the lead with a penalty, but was wide, and the visitors could not take advantage of being a man up with Halfpenny in the bin for a deliberate knock-down, yet the underdogs were still 7-5 ahead at the break.

The French side picked up the pace at the start of the second half and Halfpenny put them ahead with a 43rd minute penalty. Bryan Habana then increased the lead with a try on the hour and Halfpenny's conversion made it 15-7. The home fans hoped that would be the catalyst for an avalanche of tries, but instead Sale hit back with a perfect driving line out try from hooker Rob Webber to cut the gap to three points. Then came the late charge from Toulon to set up a fantastic finish against Saracens in Round 6. A yellow card handed out to Sharks replacement prop Kieran Longbottom in the 76th minute by Irish referee George Clancy for a dangerous tackle proved crucial,  as it allowed replacement scrum half Jonathan Pelissié to scamper over in the right corner, promptly followed up with a well- fashioned bonus point score from deep in their 22 with the final move of the match, started by Josua Tuisova and then finished by him almost in the same spot at which Pelissié scored.

Toulon are now within five points of Pool 3 leaders Saracens and will head to Allianz Park in Round 6 with an outside chance of overtaking the reigning champions. With 15 points, they will need to take something out of the game to stand any chance of reaching the last eight.

bana, Pelissié, Tuisova C: Halfpenny (2) P: Halfpenny Yellow Card Halfpenny

SHARKS: Michael Haley, Paulo Odogwu, WILL ADDISON (C), Mark Jennings, Josh Charnley, Sam James, Mike Phillips, Ross Harrison, Rob Webber, Halani Aulika, Bryn Evans, Jon Mills, Magnus Lund, David Seymour, Laurence Pearce BENCH: Neil Briggs, James Flynn, Kieran Longbottom, George Nott, Ben Curry, Thomas Curry, James Mitchell, Daniel Mugford

SCORERS T: James, Webber C: Addison Yellow Card Longbottom

Referee: George Clancy Asst Referees: Stuart Gaffikin, Ken Imbusch TMO: Simon McDowell

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POOL 4Champions Cup Round 5 Pool 4

Montpellier LEINSTER RUGBY 57 - 3 MONTPELLIER Leinster Rugby

RDS Arena - Friday 13 January 2017
KO: 19:45 HT: 24-3 Att: 17,585

 

LEINSTER RUGBY became the first qualifiers for the Champions Cup quarter-finals as they put their nearest rivals, Montpellier in Pool 4 to the sword with an eight try routing of the visitors, hammering them 57-3.

Isa Nacewa got Leinster off the mark with a try in the right corner which Johnny Sexton converted in the 14th minute. Frans Steyn kicked a penalty mid-way through the first-half, but that was as good as it got for the visitors, their cause not helped by the 27th minute dismissal of Steyn for a head high shot on opposite number Sexton for which he saw a red card. Man of the match Jack Conan crossed for his first Champions Cup try and then acted as the link to give Adam Byrne a third to make it 24-3 at half-time.

Sexton had left the field for an HIA, but soon returned to carry on directing operations and steer his side into the last eight, running 14-man Montpellier ragged. The high-tempo Leinster brought into the game certainly warmed things up on a freezing night in Dublin; it may have taken 14 minutes before the bonus point try arrived, courtesy of Conan, but that was merely the start of a try-fest. Four more tries flowed before the game came to an end. Conan got his hat-trick, Luke McGrath raced 30 metres to the posts, Cian Healy burrowed over from two metres and Garry Ringrose weaved his way over at the posts for the eighth and final score. Sexton went through 500 points in the tournament with his three conversions and his replacement, Ross Byrne, chipped in four.

Leinster head to Castres in Round 6 with the pool title in the bag, the 12th in their history, with 21 points already to their credit, while the TOP 14 side suffered their heaviest defeat in the Champions Cup and they also picked up records for the most tries and conversion conceded.

LEINSTER: ISA NACEWA (C), Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Rory O'Loughlin, Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath, Jack McGrath, James Tracy, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs, Jack Conan, Josh Van Der Flier, Jamie Heaslip BENCH: Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Daniel Leavy, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Rob Kearney

SCORERS T: Nacewa, Conan (3), Adam Byrne, Luke McGrath, Healy, Ringrose C: Sexton (3), Ross Byrne (4) P: Nacewa

MONTPELLIER: Joffrey Michel, Timoci Nagusa, Vincent Martin, Joseph Tomane, Nemani Nadolo, Frans Steyn, Nic White, Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Jannie Du Plessis, Paul Willemse, Konstantine Mikautadze, Fulgence Ouedraogo, AKAPUSI QERA (C), Pierre Spies BENCH: Charles Geli, Yvan Watremez, Davit Kubriashvili, Antoine Battut, Kelian Galletier, Tomas O'Leary, Henry Immelman, Jesse Mogg

SCORERS P: Steyn Red Card Steyn

Referee: JP Doyle Asst Referees: Wayne Barnes, Simon McConnell TMO: Stuart Terheege

 

Northampton SaintsNORTHAMPTON SAINTS 28 - 21 CASTRES Castres Olympique

Franklin's Gardens - Saturday 14 January 2017
KO: 13:00 HT: 21-8 Att: 13,645

 

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS resisted a second-half comeback to send Castres crashing out of the European Rugby Champions Cup following a 28-21 defeat, despite having no chance of progressing from Pool 4.

Castres were chasing a triumph to keep their slim last eight hopes alive, but they got off to the worst possible start. The Saints came flying out of the blocks and were soon knocking on the French try-line. Stephen Myler popped the ball to Teimana Harrison, who crashed over from close range. Myler converted for a 7-0 lead, before Kockott pulled three points back with a penalty. Castres hooker Jody Jenneker was sin-binned for handling the ball at a ruck, but his side showed their spirit to hit the front. Ben Foden was powerless to stop the French side from utilising their overlap to send flanker Alexander Bias storming down the wing to score at the corner. Despite no conversion, the visitors took an 8-7 lead briefly after half an hour. But the Saints response was immediate. Scrum-half Nick Groom sniped through after a lineout before some quick ball at the breakdown allowed Myler to stroll over the tryline before converting for a 14-8 lead, swiftly followed up by Tom Wood securing the ball at the ruck, where it shot out to Harrison who dived over for a double and a 21-8 half-time lead.

The game looked beyond Castres at the break, but outside-half Julien Dumora ghosted through a gap to score before Rory Kockott converted to bring them back to within six points. And Franklin's Gardens fell silent as Kockott landed two more penalties to close the 13-point gap and make it 21-21 with a quarter to play. But they were back on their feet when Wood charged through the defence to score after an overthrown lineout to earn a bonus-point triumph.

SAINTS: Ben Foden, Juan Pablo Estelles, Luther Burrell, Harry Mallinder, George North, Steve Myler, Nic Groom, Alex Waller, Mikey Haywood, Kieran Brookes, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day, TOM WOOD (C), Jamie Gibson, Teimana Harrison BENCH: Charlie Clare, Ethan Waller, Paul Hill, James Craig, Ben Nutley, Lee Dickson, JJ Hanrahan, Ahsee Tuala

SCORERS T: Harrison (2), Myler, Wood C: Myler (4)

CASTRES: Geoffrey Palis, Horacio Agulla, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Robert Ebersohn, David Smith, Julien Dumora, RORY KOCKOTT (C), Mihaïta Lazar, Jody Jenneker, Damien Tussac, Loic Jacquet, Victor Moreaux, Yannick Caballero, Alexandre Bias, Maama Vaipulu BENCH: Brice Mach, Antoine Tichit, Daniel Kotze, Rodrigo Capo Ortega, Antoine Dupont, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Steve Mafi, Thomas Combezou

SCORERS T: Bias, Dumora C: Kockott P: Kockott (3) Yellow Card Jenneker

Referee: Andrew Brace Asst Referees: Leo Colgan, Paul Haycock TMO: Olly Hodges

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POOL 5Champions Cup Round 5 Pool 5

Bordeaux BèglesBORDEAUX-BÈGLES 6 - 9 CLERMONT ASM Clermont Auvergne

Stade Chaban-Delmas - Sunday 15 January 2017
KO: 14:00 HT: 6-6 Att: 21,196

 

IT was not pretty, but it was pretty effective as far as ASM Clermont Auvergne were concerned, a three point win putting them firmly in place for a home quarter final after beating Bordeaux-Bègles away, three penalties to two.

The visitors had to come through a tricky start after going down to 13 men in the first half as Nigel Owens sent both full back Isaiah Toeava and prop Viktor Kolelishvili went to the sin-bin in the ninth and 13th minutes. But the home side were not able to take advantage and a penalty a piece from Ian Madigan and Camille Lopez meant it was 3-3 by the time both teams were back to a full quota. Having started brightly, Bordeaux came under increasing pressure as the half wore on, but it was 6-6 at the break after both outside halves added a second penalty.

Bordeaux came out looking to stamp their authority on proceedings as the rain poured down at the start of the second half and lock Tom Palmer got over the line, but was held up. Clermont did well to clear their lines after that and managed to grind out a few more penalty chances. Lopez was wide with a drop goal attempt, but hit the mark with a 59th minute penalty to take the lead. He missed on the stroke of time, but by then it did not matter - Clermont had ground out a victory to take four points.

It is the sixth time in eight seasons that Clermont have reached the last eight and they will host Exeter Chiefs in Round 6 to try to ensure a home draw. Bordeaux's defeat means they are now unlikely to progress as a best runner-up with their best total being 15 points.

BORDEAUX: Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Nans Ducuing, Jayden Spence, Joe Wakacegu, Jean-Baptiste Dubié, Ian Madigan, BAPTISTE SERIN (C), Sébastien Taofifenua, Ole Avei, Vadim Cobilas, Tom Palmer, Cyril Cazeaux, Loann Goujon, Hugh Chalmers, Marco Tauleigne BENCH: Clement Maynadier, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Steven Kitshoff, Berend Botha, Luke Jones, Yann Lesgourgues, Blair Connor, Geoffrey Cros

SCORERS P: Madigan (2) Yellow Card Cazeaux

CLERMONT: Isaiah Toeava, Noa Nakaitaci, Remi Lamerat, Wesley Fofana, Adrien Planté, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra, Raphael Chaume, John Ulugia, Davit Zirakashvili, Paul Jedrasiak, Sébastien Vahaamahina, DAMIEN CHOULY (C), Viktor Kolelishvili, Fritz Lee BENCH: Benjamin Kayser, Vincent Debaty, Aaron Jarvis, Flip Van Der Merwe, Alexandre Lapandry, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Benson Stanley, Scott Spedding

SCORERS P: Lopez (3) Yellow Card Toeava, Kolelishvili

Referee: Nigel Owens Asst Referees: Dan Jones, Wayne Davies TMO: Neil Hennessy

 

Exeter Chiefs EXETER CHIEFS 31 - 19 ULSTER RUGBYUlster Rugby

Sandy Park Stadium - Sunday 15 January 2017
KO: 17:30 HT: 12-12 Att: 10,671

 

EXETER CHIEFS moved up into second place in Pool 5 as they gave their fans something to cheer with their first home win in the Champions Cup this season beating Ulster Rugby 31-19.

Ulster came into the game knowing they needed to win to give themselves a realistic chance of pushing on, and stayed in the hunt throughout a very cagey first-half that ended all-square at 12-12. There were two tries each, with Sean Reidy rounding off a clean break through the heart of the home defence by Stuart McCloskey in only the second minute to draw first blood for the visitors. Paddy Jackson missed the conversion, as did Gareth Steenson after Michele Campagnaro turned on the gas to cross for the equaliser midway through the half. That gave the Chiefs new life and Thomas Waldrom rounded off a strong period of pressure with a typical try from close range. This time Steenson added the extras, but some thrilling footwork from the mercurial Ulster wing Charles Piutau enabled Jackson to level matters at 12-all just before the interval.

The home side dominated the third period and both Waldrom, from the base of a five metre scrum, and Campagnaro picked up their second tries to give the Chiefs a bonus point and a 24-12 lead after 54 minutes. Some more magic between Jackson and Piutau on the hour conjured up a third Ulster try to cut the gap to five points as the wing gathered an inch perfect kick-pass from his outside half. Jackson added the conversion. Jackson then turned from hero to villain as he picked up a yellow card 10 minutes from time as he put his hand in as Exeter went to turn a 3 on 1 overlap into a fifth try. French referee Romain Poite awarded a penalty try and Steenson kicked the conversion.

It means the Chiefs are still in the hunt for a place in the last eight, although it will likely take at least a bonus point victory.

CHIEFS: Phil Dollman, Jack Nowell, Michele Campagnaro, Ian Whitten, Olly Woodburn, GARETH STEENSON (C), Dave Lewis, Ben Moon, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Greg Holmes, Mitch Lees, Jonny Hill, Tom Johnson, Don Armand, Tom Waldrom BENCH: Jack Yeandle, Moray Low, Harry Williams, Dave Dennis, Kai Horstmann, Stu Townsend, Joe Simmonds, Ollie Devoto

SCORERS  T: Campagnaro (2), Waldrom (2), PT C: Steenson (3)

ULSTER: Louis Ludik, Charles Piutau, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, ANDREW TRIMBLE (C), Paddy Jackson, David Shanahan, Callum Black, Rory Best, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Pete Browne, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Sean Reidy BENCH: John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Jonny Simpson, Franco Van Der Merwe, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Brett Herron, Jacob Stockdale

SCORERS T: Reidy, Piutau (2) C: Jackson (2) Yellow Card Jackson

Referee: Romain Poite Asst Referees: Pierre Brousset, Stéphane Boyer TMO: Arnaud Blondel

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Rescheduled MatchesChampions Cup Rescheduled Pool 1

Racing 92RACING 92 7 - 32 MUNSTER RUGBYMunster Rugby

Stade Yves-Du-Manoir - Saturday 07 January 2017
KO: 16:45 HT: 7-25 Att: 9,233

Racing 92 Munster RugbyMUNSTER head to Scotstoun in Round 5 knowing that victory over Glasgow Warriors will be good enough to earn them a Champions Cup quarter-final spot as winners of Pool 1. The Irish side picked up a third win in four outings as they put last season's beaten finalists, and reigning French champions, Racing 92 to the sword. It took the Irish side a mere 54 minutes to bag a bonus point as they put in the perfect performance to honour the memory of their former captain and coach, Anthony Foley.

It had been the untimely death on the eve of this Round 1 fixture in October that forced the game to be re-arranged and Munster responded with a passion-packed performance that took them to the top of the pool, three points clear of Glasgow.

Racing fell to their fourth successive defeat in the pool as they fell to their heaviest Champions Cup defeat. The 31 point losing margin was six points worse than they had ever suffered before.

Munster dominated the opening quarter and it took some excellent home defence to keep them at bay. The first points came from the boot of Munster outside half with a penalty after 14 minutes and the nerves of the visiting fans were soothed by three tries before the break.

Simon Zebo crossed for the opening try, his 50th for Munster in all matches, and then Heineken Man of the Match CJ Stander raced almost 20 metres for the next one. On the stroke of half-time Conor Murray clipping a grubber kick along the right-hand touchline that popped up perfectly for Andrew Conway as he ran down the line and a third Munster try was confirmed by the TMO.

Bleyendaal took his first-half tally up to 10 points with a second conversion to add to his earlier two penalties and Munster were well on their way. It took a mere 14 minutes of the second half before outstanding hooker Niall Scannell drove over from a five metre line-out for the bonus-point try which Bleyendaal again converted.

That it was it for Munster, although they continued to dominate proceedings, but there was a slight sting in the tail as Racing salvaged some pride with a try from back row man Mathieu Voisin which Dan Carter converted.

The two teams meet again in Round 6 at Thomond Park, where Munster have already sold 20,000 tickets for a game that will see former great Ronan O'Gara return with the French side as one of their coaching team.

RACING: Juan Imhoff, Joe Rokocoko, Casey Laulala, Anthony Tuitavke, Teddy Thomas, Benjamin Dambielle, Xavier Chauveau, Khatchik Vartanov, Camille Chat, Luc Ducalcon, Gerbrandt Grobler, Francois van der Merwe, CHRIS MASOE (C), Matthieu Voisin, Antonie Claassen BENCH: Virgile Lacombe, Julien Brugnaut, Cedate Gomes Sa, Ali Williams, So'otala Fa'aso'o, James Hart, Dan Carter, Henry Chavancy

SCORERS T: Voisin C: Carter

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Ronan O'Mahony, Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, PETER O'MAHONY (C), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander BENCH: Rhys Marshall, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Dave Foley, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Keith Earls, Francis Saili

SCORERS T: Zebo, Stander, Conway, Niall Scannell C: Bleyendaal (3) P: Bleyendaal (2)

Referee: Matt Carley Asst Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Paul Dix TMO: Rowan Kitt

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EPCR Round 4

POOL 1Champions Cup Round 4 Pool 1

Glasgow WarriorsGLASGOW WARRIORS 23 - 7 RACING 92Racing 92

Scotstoun Stadium - Friday 16 December 2016
KO: 19:45 HT: 18-0 Att: 7,351

Glasgow Warriors Racing 92GLASGOW WARRIORS moved to the summit of Pool 1 after they repeated their famous triumph over last season's runners-up Racing 92 in an impressive performance where they ran away with the game. Gregor Townsend's stunned Dan Carter and his teammates. in the first-half with tries from centurion Josh Strauss and hooker Fraser Brown, before scrum-half Ali Price darted over to seal the 23-7 victory. Racing could only conjure a consolation try from Xavier Chauveau.

 

The hosts got off to the perfect start in their bid to move top of Pool 1, and it was their new centurion who crashed over. Finn Russell's delicate chip was collected by Tommy Seymour, who looked to have put Stuart Hogg in at the corner. The full-back was stopped short but offloaded to Strauss, who crashed over on his 100th appearance.

And it did not take long for Gregor Townsend's men to build on their early advantage. With Russell enjoying a free reign at outside-half, the Warriors moved the ball from left to right. Russell then took the ball at first receiver and sent Brown bulldozing through a hole in midfield, and the hooker finished in style.

Russell landed the conversion and added two more penalties to take the score to 18-0 going into the break. Marc Andreu thought he had kicked off the comeback with a try at the end of the half, but Seymour's leg prevented the wing from grounding the ball.

Things went from bad to worse for last season's finalists six minutes into the final 40 minutes; scrum-half Price repeated the previous week's heroics to sell a dummy to beat a defender before darting over from five-metres out for a 23-0 advantage. The Warriors chased a bonus-point score but it was Chauveau who bagged a late consolation try.

WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Samuel Johnson, Lee Jones, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, JONNY GRAY (C), Robert Harley, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss
BENCH: Corey Flynn, Alex Allan, Sila Puafisi, Brian Alainu'uese, Chris Fusaro, Henry Pyrgos, Mark Bennett, Sean Lamont

SCORERS T: Strauss, Brown, Price C: Russell P: Russell (2)

RACING: Brice Dulin, Teddy Thomas, Casey Laulala, Anthony Tuitavke, Marc Andreu, Dan Carter, MAXIME MACHENAUD (C), Viliamu Afatia, Camille Chat, Ben Tameifuna, Gerbrandt Grobler, Francois van der Merwe, Wenceslas Lauret, Chris Masoe, Leone Nakarawa BENCH: Dimitri Szarzewski, Eddy Ben Arous, Cedate Gomes Sa, Thibault Dubarry, Antonie Claassen, Xavier Chauveau, Benjamin Dambielle, Joe Rokocoko

SCORERS T: Chauveau C: Dambielle

Referee: George Clancy Asst Referees: Leo Colgan, John Carvill TMO: Olly Hodges

 

Leicester Tigers LEICESTER TIGERS 18 - 16 MUNSTER RUGBYMunster Rugby

Welford Road - Saturday 17 December 2016
KO: 15:15 HT: 6-6 Att: 24,213

Leicester Tigers Munster RugbyTHE Leicester Tigers future and that of Head Coach Richard Cockerill were in the balance after their recent run of tragedy, compounded the previous week with Irish province inflicting a record 38-0 defeat. But the wounded Tigers came out fighting to earn their second victory in this season's competition, triumphing over Munster with an Owen Williams long-range penalty to snatch a famous 18-16 victory over Munster Rugby.

 

It was end-to-end stuff in the opening exchanges at Welford Road, but Munster made the most of their first opportunity to get points on the scoreboard. Simon Zebo chipped ahead but was taken out by George Worth and Tyler Bleyendaal made no mistake with the long-range kick. Bleyendaal added a second penalty to make it 6-0, before Manu Tuilagi opened the door for Munster when he was shown yellow for a shoulder charge on Rory Scannell. But instead, it was the 14-men of the Tigers who roared back into the game.

Ellis Genge and Luke Hamilton combined to take Leicester deep into Munster territory, before Peter O'Mahony gave a penalty away in-front of the posts. And Owen Williams made no mistake from the tee to cut the gap to 6-3. The Welshman added a second penalty moments later to level the scores at 6-6 at half-time.

It was more of the same after the interval as both sides fought to gain the ascendancy. Much like the first-half, it was Munster who hit the front with a Bleyendaal penalty after Brendan O'Connor went off his feet at a ruck. But Williams levelled once again with his third penalty, before Leicester snatched the lead for the first time. Munster infringed again at a ruck and Williams made no mistake to make it 12-3 with 25 minutes remaining.

Munster looked to be building up a head of steam ten minutes later, but the ball went loose and Adam Thompstone went on the attack. Zebo dragged him down moments after he had put boot-to-ball, and earned a yellow card. Williams landed the resulting penalty to earn a vital six-point lead.

But Munster were not dead and buried. Niall Scannell crashed over at the back of a maul, before Bleyendaal converted, despite a slip, to put the Irish province 16-15 ahead. But Williams showed nerves of steel to send a penalty through the uprights from 52 metres out to claim revenge the dying moments.

TIGERS: George Worth, Peter Betham, Jack Roberts, Manu Tuilagi, Adam Thompstone, Owen Williams, Ben Youngs, Ellis Genge, TOM YOUNGS (C), Pat Cilliers, Ed Slater, Graham Kitchener, Luke Hamilton, Brendon O'Connor, Lachlan McCaffrey BENCH: Harry Thacker, Logovi'i Mulipola, Greg Bateman, Michael Fitzgerald, Mike Williams, William Evans, Sam Harrison, Tom Brady

SCORERS P: Owen Williams (6) Yellow Card Tuilagi, Youngs

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo, Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, PETER O'MAHONY (C), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander BENCH: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Andrew Conway

SCORERS T: Niall Scannell C: Bleyendaal P: Bleyendaal (3) Yellow Card Zebo

Referee: Pascal Gaüzère Asst Referees: Maxime Chalon, Jean-Luc Rebollal TMO: Eric Gauzins

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POOL 2Champions Cup Round 4 Pool 2

ToulouseTOULOUSE 54 - 15 ZEBRE RUGBYZebre

Stade Ernest Wallon - Saturday 17 December 2016
KO: 16:15 HT: 40-10 Att: 10,378

Toulouse Zebre RugbyTOULOUSE made it a full 10 points against Zebre Rugby in the back-to-back matches as they followed up their bonus-point win in Italy with an eight try romp at home.

 

The Italians got off to a flying start with a try within two minutes of the kick-off from Italian international hooker Tommaso D'Apice. Carlo Canna converted for a 7-0 lead. Toulouse responded with a try from back-rower Gillian Galan, and Toby Flood converted to equalise. But Italian No10, Canna added a penalty for a 10-7 lead by the tenth minute.

However, Toulouse’s response was rapid and pretty savage. Having matched the early score, they put the visitors to the sword in a nine minute purple patch that ended the game as a contest. The four time champions scored four tries flowed in that period as Paul Perez, Yoann Huget, Arthur Bonneval and Toby Flood crossed to bag the bonus point before half-time. Flood converted three of them and then added the extras to a 38th minute score from Gurthrö Steenkamp that made it 40-10 at the break.

In the second half, the scoring pace dialled down a notch to just three tries. Johan Meyer grabbed a second try for Zebre four minutes after the restart. Perez bagged a brace which Flood converted, and Yann David completed the scoring with an eighth converted try.

Another five point win put Ugo Mola's men level on 13 points with Wasps and Connacht Rugby in Pool 2, and Stade Toulousain are well in the hunt for a first quarter-final slot since 2014.

TOULOUSE: Yoann Huget, Arthur Bonneval, Florian Fritz, Toby Flood, Paul Perez, Luke McAlister, Samuel Marques, Gurthro Steenkamp, Christopher Tolofua, Census Johnston, Gregory Lamboley, Joe Tekori, THIERRY DUSAUTOIR (C), Talalelei Gray, Gillian Galan BENCH: Peato Mauvaka, Vasil Kakovin, Maks Van Dyk, Piula Fa'asalele, Selevasio Tolofua, Sébastien Bézy, Yann David, Kunatani Kunabuli

SCORERS  T: Galan, Perez (2), Huget, Bonneval, Flood, Steenkamp, David C: Flood (7)

ZEBRE: Guglielmo Palazzani, Mattia Bellini, Matteo Pratichetti, Faialaga Afamasaga, Kayle Van Zyl, Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi, Bruno Postiglioni, Tommaso D'Apice, Pietro Ceccarelli, Gideon Koegelenberg, GEORGE BIAGI (C), Derick Minnie, Johan Meyer, Josh Furno BENCH: Carlo Festuccia, Andrea de Marchi, Guillermo Roan, Valerio Bernabo, Christoffel du Plessis, Carlo Engelbrecht, Serafin Bordoli, Tommy Castello

SCORERS T: D'Apice, Meyer C: Canna P: Canna

Referee: Ian Tempest Asst Referees: Greg Garner, Jonathan Healy TMO: Graham Hughes

 

Connacht RugbyCONNACHT RUGBY 20 - 18 WASPSWasps

The Sportsground - Saturday 17 December 2016
KO: 17:30 HT: 13-7 Att: 8,090

Connacht Rugby WaspsJACK CARTY snatched a dramatic 20-18 victory for Connacht over Wasps with the final kick of the game in a classic at the Sportsground, when it had looked as if the visitors had the game in the bag in the 80th minute.

 

Having missed his first attempt, it was Carty that opened the scoring after Wasps held-on at a ruck, but it was not long before Joe Simpson gave the English side an early lead. Thomas Young made the initial break in midfield before finding his back-row colleague Nathan Hughes. He charged towards the line and though he was stopped short by Kieran Marmion, Simpson scooped up the ball to score. Jimmy Gopperth landed the conversion to make it 7-3.

Connacht full-back Tiernan O'Halloran was sent to the sin-bin following a build-up of penalties close to their try-line, but Carty drew close with another penalty with just nine minutes remaining of the half. Danie Poolman’s score in the final moments, converted by Carty took the home side 13-7 clear.

The second period started slowly, Gopperth cutting the gap to three points with a penalty 15 minutes in, but missed the chance to level the scores on the hour mark. He made no mistake from right in front of the posts moments later though to make it 13-13.

In the 73rd minute, Wasps powerful pack shunted Connacht off their own ball before Dan Robson picked up the ball and found Josh Bassett with a perfectly weighted cut-out pass, and the wing finished well. But Gopperth could not fig he posts for the conversion, and Connacht were just five points short of a draw.

The  fighting spirit of the homeside drove replacement Naulia Dawai over the line to level the scores in injury time, and Carty stepped up to add the required conversion to steal the win at the death.

EPCR later issued the following statement to clarify the score remained, despite the referee’s error in judgement:

“The assistant referee, who had taken over as match referee following an injury to Jérôme Garcès, awarded a penalty to Connacht after time had elapsed. Connacht kicked the ball into touch and from the resultant line-out, scored a converted try to win the game 20-18.

However, as time had elapsed, Connacht should not have been permitted to take a line-out throw-in once the ball had been kicked into touch as stipulated in Law 5.7 (e) of World Rugby's Laws of the Game.”

CONNACHT: Tiernan O'Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Rory Parata, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Eoin McKeon, Nepia Fox Matamua, JOHN MULDOON (C) BENCH: David Heffernan, JP Cooney, Conor Carey, Lewis Stevenson, Sean O'Brien, Caolin Blade, Danie Poolman, Naulia Dawai

SCORERS T: Poolman, Dawai C: Carty (2) P: Carty (2) Yellow Card O'Halloran

WASPS: Rob Miller, Christian Wade, Brendan Macken, Kurtley Beale, Josh Bassett, Jimmy Gopperth, Joe Simpson, Matt Mullan, Tommy Taylor, Jake Cooper-Woolley, JOE LAUNCHBURY (C), Kearnan Myall, Ashley Johnson, Thomas Young, Nathan Hughes BENCH: Alex Rieder, Tom Bristow, Martin Moore, James Gaskell, Guy Thompson, Dan Robson, Alapati Leiua, Frank Halai

SCORERS T: Simpson, Bassett C: Gopperth P: Gopperth (2)

Referee: Jérôme Garcès Asst Referees: Mathieu Raynal, Sebastian Cloute TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

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POOL 3Champions Cup Round 4 Pool 3

ScarletsSCARLETS 22 - 21 RC TOULONToulon

Parc y Scarlets - Sunday 18 December 2016
KO: 13:00 HT: 16-9 Att: 8,579

Scarlets RC ToulonTHE Scarlets claimed a famous 22-21 win over Toulon in their European Rugby Champions Cup clash in Llanelli. Against a below par French side, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes, Rhys Patchell and Ken Owens produced stand-out performances as man of the match Scott Williams scored the game's only try. Toulon, with their star-studded XV, were poor as they barely got started before the break, but credit had to go to Wayne Pivac's men for their performance.

 

With their Welsh front row of Rob Evans, Owens and Samson Lee reunited for the first time this season, the Scarlets more than patched up to the power of their opponents' pack. Steffan Evans went close to collecting a Patchell kick, before the home fly-half gave his side a 3-0 lead. With Toulon still stuck in the changing rooms, Williams scythed his way to the line for a score which sent the home crowd wild and with Patchell converting and adding a penalty, the Welsh region were well on top, 13-0.

Toulon had not even got started and Ma'a Nonu's failure to back himself to make the line after intercepting a Williams pass summed up their lethargy. Toulon then got their first score of the day as Halfpenny landed a monster penalty, but it failed to deter the Scarlets as a searing Patchell break put them on the front foot. DTH van der Merwe was up in support and he popped the ball up for Gareth Davies who inexplicably dropped the ball over the line.

A bust up following a scrum then saw Samu Manoa -who briefly replaced Duane Vermeulen- lucky to avoid a card for clashing with Davies, and Patchell kicked the resulting penalty to make it 16-3. In attack Toulon had offered next to nothing but their pack remained capable of winning them a penalty and two more efforts from Halfpenny narrowed their deficit to seven at the break, 16-9.

Patchell and Halfpenny exchanged penalties at the start of the second period, before the latter was short with another effort from range. Toulon were much better after half time, but were hindered when prop Florian Fresia was yellow carded in the 56th minute. A tight encounter ensued as both sides coughed up penalties on a regular basis.

The game turned into a shootout between Wales duo Halfpenny and Patchell. Two more penalties from Halfpenny - either side of one from Patchell - made it 22-18 and sent the game into the final 10 minutes with all to play for. A seventh kick from Halfpenny in the 72nd minute left one point between the teams and it was Toulon who were doing all the attacking.

Remarkably, the final few minutes saw the visitors have three chances to snatch victory. Halfpenny missed a penalty and Pierre Bernard's drop goal fell short before Halfpenny had one last shot at goal. From just inside the opposition half, he stepped up but was off target as the home side celebrated wildly.

SCARLETS: Liam Williams, DTH van der Merwe, Hadleigh Parkes, Scott Williams, Steff Evans, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies, Rob Evans, KEN OWENS (C), Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Tadhg Beirne, Aaron Shingler, Will Boyde, John Barclay BENCH: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, Lewis Rawlins, Joshua Macleod, Jonathan Evans, Aled Thomas, Jonathan Davies

SCORERS T: Scott Williams C: Patchell P: Patchell (5)

TOULON: Leigh Halfpenny, James O'Connor, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana, Pierre Bernard, Jonathan Pelissié, Xavier Chiocci, Guilhem Guirado, Levan Chilachava, Mamuka Gorgodze, Romain Taofifenua, Charles Ollivon, Juandré  Kruger, DUANE VERMEULEN (C) BENCH: Jean-Charles Orioli, Florian Fresia, Marcel Van Der Merwe, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Jocelino Suta, Maxime Mermoz, Eric Escande, Samu Manoa

SCORERS P: Halfpenny (7) Yellow Card Fresia

Referee: Matt Carley Asst Referees: JP Doyle, Andrew Jackson TMO: David Grashoff

 

Sale Sharks SALE SHARKS 10 - 24 SARACENSSaracens

AJ Bell Stadium - Sunday 18 December 2016
KO: 17:30 HT: 3-6 Att: 6,158

Sale Sharks SaracensSARACENS joined the great Munster side of 2005-2007 by equalling their tournament record of 13 successive wins with a 24-10 triumph at the AJ Bell Stadium. After becoming the first team to win nine games in a row on their way to winning the Champions Cup for the first time last season, Mark McCall's side made it four in a row this season with a double over Premiership rivals Sale Sharks.

 

For 78 minutes, the only thing the Sharks could do to match AJ MacGinty’s pitiful three points from the first half were three second half yellow cards for Rob Webber, Bryn Evans and TJ Ioane. However, the visitors had not fared that much better on the scoring front, Owen Farrell contributing six penalty points.

The second half started poorly for the home side as Webber become the fourth player in the two games against Saracens to pick up a yellow card when he hauled down a driving lineout in his 22. Fortunately for Webber, and his side, Farrell pushed his kick wide of the posts and then the England star proved he may possibly be a mere mortal off the kicking tee by missing a second shot moments later.

Those two misses kept the game in the melting pot until New Zealand lock Evans picked up the next card for a deliberate knock down as Saracens looked to build an attack on the home 10 metre line. This time Farrell hit the mark to make it 9-3 as the game moved into the final quarter.

The third yellow card for Ioane 12 minutes from time gave Farrell the chance to kick a fourth goal and that made it six yellows in two games, and nine in four games in the Champions Cup this season for Sale. An unimpressive record for a side in the process of losing its fourth of four Champions Cup matches so far this season, not able to muster a single championship point, with a -88 points difference in the pool, only beaten by Zebre and Northampton Saints of the 20 participating teams of the tournament.

Eight minutes to go and the pace picked up; a delightful offload as he went to ground in a tackle in the shadow of the home posts by giant Australian lock Will Skelton then paved the way for Farrell to cross for the first try of the game. The England star added the simple conversion to make it 19 points on the night.

There was a quick exchange of tries at the death; Nathan Earle raced onto a pin-point kick through by Alex Goode, but replacement Alex Lozowski missed the conversion. A minute later, recently returned from the naughty step, Evans slid over for a try from the restart, but nothing could unsettle Saracens.

The incumbent champions remain the only unbeaten team in the Champions Cup this season, sitting pretty on a top match point score of 18, with Clermont on 17 in Pool 5, and Leinster on 16 in Pool 4.

SHARKS: Michael Haley, Denny Solomona, Sam James, Johnny Leota, Josh Charnley, AJ MacGinty, James Mitchell, Ross Harrison, Rob Webber, Halani Aulika, Bryn Evans, Andrei Ostrikov, Cameron Neild, MAGNUS LUND (C), TJ Ioane BENCH: Neil Briggs, James Flynn, Ciaran Parker, Jon Mills, David Seymour, Mike Phillips, Mark Jennings, Tom Arscott

SCORERS T: Evans C: MacGinty P: MacGinty Yellow Card Webber, Evans, Ioane

SARACENS: Alex Goode, Sean Maitland, Marcelo Bosch, BRAD BARRITT (C), Chris Wyles, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, Petrus du Plessis, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Michael Rhodes, Schalk Burger, Jackson Wray BENCH: Jamie George, Richard Barrington, Juan Figallo, Will Skelton, Kelly Brown, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Nathan Earle

SCORERS T: Farrell, Earle C: Farrell P: Farrell (4)

Referee: Andrew Brace Asst Referees: Mark Patton, Jonathan Peak TMO: Simon McDowell

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POOL 4Champions Cup Round 4 Pool 4

Leinster RugbyLEINSTER 60 - 13 NORTHAMPTON SAINTSNorthampton Saints

Aviva Stadium - Saturday 17 December 2016
KO: 19:45 HT: 29-13 Att: 38,584

Leinster Rugby Northampton SaintsNORTHAMPTON SAINTS’ season of hell continued after Leinster Rugby subjected them to a massive 60-13 defeat at the Aviva Stadium in Saturday night, despite taking a first quarter lead.

 

Forced to respond to a fourth minute try by right wing Adam Byrne for the home side, Saints found themselves 6-5 ahead after 16 minutes and then 13-5 to the good midway through the half. Steve Myler made up for an earlier miss, his first in the Champions Cup off the tee this season, to land two penalties and then he converted a near length of the field interception try from Ken Pisi.

The greasy pitch made life difficult for the home runners, but it was the brilliant work at the breakdown by Calum Clark, Jamie Gibson and Teimana Harrison that caused the most difficulties. They slowed the ball down and made it a far more physical contest than a week earlier.

Leinster finally got to grips with what was going on they and became ruthless, by half-time converting six raids in the Saints' 22 into four tries and a bonus point. Adam Byrne bagged a brace while scrum half, Luke McGrath and flanker, Sean O'Brien added the other first half scores. Skipper Isa Nacewa took his Leinster points tally over the 600 mark with a penalty and three conversions. That made it 29-13 at the interval and the onslaught did not stop there.

Front row men Tadhg Furlong and Sean Cronin joined the party with tries in the first six minutes of the second half, and then it became a long march to the death for the visitors as Leinster piled on the agony with three more tries, two of them when Gibson was in the sin-bin.

The three-time winners marched to a nine try triumph that sent the Saints marching home with a sack full of unwanted records - most points conceded (60), biggest margin of defeat (47), most tries conceded (9) and most conversions conceded (6).

LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner, Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, ISA NACEWA (C), Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath, Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs, Sean O'Brien, Josh Van Der Flier, Jamie Heaslip BENCH: James Tracy, Cian Healy, Michael Bent, Rhys Ruddock, Jack Conan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Noel Reid, Rory O'Loughlin

SCORERS T: Adam Byrne (2), Luke McGrath, O'Brien, Furlong, Cronin, Nacewa (2), O'Loughlin C: Nacewa (4), Ross Byrne (2) P: Nacewa

SAINTS: Ahsee Tuala, Ken Pisi, GEORGE PISI (C), JJ Hanrahan, Tom Collins, Steve Myler, Nic Groom, Ethan Waller, Charlie Clare, Kieran Brookes, Api Ratuniyarawa, James Craig, Jamie Gibson, Calum Clark, Teimana Harrison BENCH: James Fish, Alex Waller, Paul Hill, Michael Paterson, Ben Nutley, Tom Kessell, Rory Hutchinson, James Wilson

SCORERS T: Ken Pisi C: Myler P: Myler (2) Yellow Card Gibson

Referee: Romain Poite Asst Referees: Tual Trainini, Mathieu Noirot TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin

 

Castres OlympiqueCASTRES OLYMPIQUE 29 - 23 MONTPELLIER Montpellier

Stade Pierre Antoine - Sunday 18 December 2016
KO: 14:00 HT: 16-10 Att: 8,300

Castres MontpellierCASTRES revived their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign with a revenge 29-23 triumph over Montpellier. Indiscipline cost the Challenge Cup champions once again, as Paul Willemse became the second Montpellier player in two weeks to be shown a red card.

 

The home side were out to get back in the Pool 4 race for the quarter-finals with a victory over their Top 14 rivals, and they got off to the perfect start when Benjamin Urdapilleta split the uprights with a penalty after three minutes. Dimitri Catrakilis levelled the scores before Urdapilleta nudged the hosts back into a three-point lead. But the Challenge Cup holders asserted their dominance when Catrakilis found Akapusi Qera with a perfectly weighted long pass to put the flanker over after a well worked lineout move. Catrakilis added the extras before Urdapilleta pulled Castres back to within a point with a penalty, 9-10.

But two Argentinians combined to send the home side into the lead at half-time. Urdapilleta sent an accurate cross-filed kick towards Horacio Agulla who rose highest to claim the ball and dot down. Urdapilleta landed the touchline conversion to give the hosts a 16-10 advantage at the interval.

Montpellier made a blistering start to the second-half to retake the initiative. Australia back Mogg raced over two minutes after the restart to move Montpellier back within a point, before Catrakilis landed a penalty to give the visitors the lead. And it got even better for Jake White's side when giant wing Nemani Nadolo intercepted a loose pass in his own 22 to race home for their third score to put Montpellier 23-16 ahead.

Urdapilleta pulled three points back for Castres, before Montpellier opened the door with their second red card in as many weeks. And Castres made their man advantage count when they sent Bias over to move into a 26-23 lead. Montpellier’s Jannie du Plessis was shown yellow for offending as the try was scored. And Rory Kockott sealed victory with a late penalty.

CASTRES: Geoffrey Palis, Julien Caminati, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Florian Vialelle, Horacio Agulla, Benjamin Urdapilleta, RORY KOCKOTT (C), Mihaïta  Lazar, Marc-Antoine Rallier, Damien Tussac, Loic Jacquet, Victor Moreaux, Yannick Caballero, Steve Mafi, Anthony Jelonch BENCH: Brice Mach, Tudor Stroe, Yohan Montes, Thibault Lassale, Alexandre Bias, Antoine Dupont, Julien Dumora, Pierre Berard

SCORERS T: Agulla, Bias C: Urdapilleta (2) P: Urdapilleta (4), Kockott

MONTPELLIER: Jesse Mogg, Timoci Nagusa, Joseph Tomane, Alexandre Dumoulin, Nemani Nadolo, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic White, Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Jannie Du Plessis, Konstantine Mikautadze, Nico Janse van Rensburg, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Kelian Galletier, AKAPUSI QERA (C) BENCH: Romain Ruffenach, Yvan Watremez, Antoine Guillamon, Paul Willemse, Antoine Battut, Cameron Wright, Henry Immelman, Yvan Reilhac

SCORERS T: Qera, Mogg, Nadolo C: Catrakilis P: Catrakilis (2) Yellow Card du Plessis Red Card Willemse

Referee: Wayne Barnes Asst Referees: Peter Allan, Paul Dix TMO: Rowan Kitt

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POOL 5Champions Cup Round 4 Pool 5

Bordeaux BèglesBORDEAUX-BÈGLES 12 - 20 EXETER CHIEFS Exeter Chiefs

Stade Chaban-Delmas - Saturday 17 December 2016
KO: 14:00 HT: 6-7 Att: 21,071

Bordeaux Begles Exeter ChiefsTHE Exeter Chiefs secured what was only their second victory on French soil as 20-12 winners over Bordeaux Bègles in the Champions Cup clash. A tight encounter saw Thomas Waldrom and Luke Cowan-Dickie score in either half and Henry Slade booted 10 points.

 

Both sides went hell for leather early on, a tight game seeing the first quarter coming to an end with both sides level at 0-0. There was little between the sides, Lionel Beauxis putting a drop goal wide and Slade just failing to dot down in a foot race to the line following a chip through.

Beauxis was then back on target with a 24th minute penalty and the French side then moved further ahead when the fly-half added his second penalty. The build-up to that score had seen Bordeaux break down the blindside, a flowing team move ending with Exeter's Mitch Lees seeing yellow for infringing at a ruck.

The Chiefs, however, made light work of being a man down. They shot straight back up to the other end, Slade creating the space from which Waldrom crashed over. The fly half converted for a narrow 7-6 advantage heading into the break.

The second period started with a third penalty from Beauxis and the lead again for the homeside, but then the game fell apart. Nans Ducuing saw red for his tackle on Olly Woodburn; both players went for the ball, but referee John Lacey deemed the tackle dangerous and sent the French player from the field. The remaining half hour of the game had Bordeaux handicapped.

Slade's first penalty put Exeter back ahead, 10-9, but the visitors were soon down to 14 again themselves after Greg Holmes was yellow carded.

Replacement Baptiste Serin quickly kicked a penalty, but Cowan-Dickie then responded as he crashed over from close range for what proved to be the decisive score. Slade converted and sealed the win with a late penalty.

BORDEAUX: Geoffrey Cros, Nans Ducuing, Romain Lonca, Joe Wakacegu, Jean-Baptiste Dubié, Lionel Beauxis, Julien Audy, Sébastien Taofifenua, Ole Avei, Marc Clerc, Tom Palmer, Berend Botha, LOANN GOUJON (C), Joe Edwards, Marco Tauleigne BENCH: Benat Auzqui, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Xerom Civil, Cyril Cazeaux, Louis Madaule, Gauthier Doubrere, Baptiste Serin, Jean-Marcellin Buttin

SCORERS P: Beauxis (3), Serin Red Card Ducuing

CHIEFS: Phil Dollman, Jack Nowell, Ian Whitten, Sam Hill, Olly Woodburn, Henry Slade, Will Chudley, Carl Rimmer, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams, Mitch Lees, Ollie Atkins, Dave Ewers, KAI HORSTMANN (C), Tom Waldrom BENCH: Shaun Malton, Moray Low, Greg Holmes, Dave Dennis, Don Armand, Jack Maunder, Joe Simmonds, Michele Campagnaro

SCORERS T: Waldrom, Cowan-Dickie C: Slade (2) P: Slade (2) Yellow Card Lees, Holmes

Referee: John Lacey Asst Referees: Stuart Gaffikin, Richard Kerr TMO: Brian MacNeice

 

ASM Clermont AuvergneASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE 38 - 19 ULSTERUlster Rugby

Stade Marcel-Michelin - Sunday 18 December 2016
KO: 16:05 HT: 21-0 Att: 18,739

ASM Clermont Auvergne Ulster RugbyASM Clermont Auvergne resisted a second-half comeback from Ulster Rugby to claim a 38-19 win, the Top 14 heavyweights moving six points clear at the top of Pool 5.

 

Clermont scored the first of their five tries in the opening 60 seconds of the match, All Black Isaiah Toeava gliding onto a pass from Wesley Fofana and cutting through in midfield before side-stepping past the final defender to score. Parra converted for an early 7-0 lead.

Neither side came close to a point again until the 18th minute when Charles Piutau collected a high Camille Lopez kick, but his attempt to offload was deftly stolen by Remi Lamerat. The centre found Nick Abendanon who raced over at the corner, and five minutes later, the wing collected a perfectly weighted kick and secured a brace. Parra converted the second and third unanswered scores to make it 21-0 before the half-hour mark, and Clermont held onto their lead until half-time.

Lopez scored the bonus-point try after half-time, intercepting a pass from Ruan Pienaar and sprinting 70 metres, Parra converting again to send Clermont into a 28-0 lead.

Ulster kicked off their comeback when Pienaar looped a pass over the defence and into the arms of Tommy Bowe, and the Ireland wing ran over unopposed. The second-half revival continued after 61 minutes when Franco van der Merwe was shunted over the line from a close-range lineout, and Bowe added another shortly after. Paddy Jackson converted two of the three tries and Ulster had 15 minutes remaining to score ten points to take the lead and secure a much needed win to have any chance of making the quarter finals.

For all of Ulster’s efforts, Clermont replied with a Lopez penalty, and Jackson was summarily dismissed for the remaining three minutes, earning the homeside a penalty try by illegally halting the initial attempt.

CLERMONT: Isaiah Toeava, Noa Nakaitaci, Remi Lamerat, Wesley Fofana, Nick Abendanon, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra, Etienne Falgoux, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Arthur Iturria, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Viktor Kolelishvili, Alexandre Lapandry, DAMIEN CHOULY (C) BENCH: John Ulugia, Thomas Domingo, Mickael Simutoga, Flip Van Der Merwe, Peceli Yato, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Pato Fernandez, Aurélien Rougerie

SCORERS T: Toeava, Abendanon (2), Lopez, PT C: Parra (4) P: Lopez

ULSTER: Charles Piutau, Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Louis Ludik, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Kyle McCall, RORY BEST (C), Wiehahn Herbst, Pete Browne, Franco Van Der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Sean Reidy BENCH: Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Rodney Ah You, Kieran Treadwell, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Darren Cave, Jacob Stockdale

SCORERS T: Bowe (2), van der Merwe C: Jackson (2) Yellow Card Jackson

Referee: Marius Mitrea Asst Referees: Matteo Liperini, Simone Boaretto TMO: Stefano Penne

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Round 3

POOL 1Champions Cup Round 3 Pool 1

Munster RugbyMUNSTER RUGBY 38 - 0 LEICESTER TIGERSLeicester Tigers

Thomond Park - Saturday 10 December 2016
KO: 15:15 HT: 19-0 Att: 26,500

Munster Rugby Leicester TigersMUNSTER RUGBY finally broke their Leicester Tigers hoodoo at Thomond Park as they inflicted a record defeat on the two-time European Cup winners with a 38- point nulling of the visitors.

 

The Tigers arrived having won on their two previous visits in the tournament and were complete a hat-trick. But the accurate boot of Tyler Bleyendaal, and the brilliant breakdown work of Peter O'Mahony's pack, guided the Irish province to a second successive home win.

Leicester were guilty of indiscipline from start to finish and quickly found themselves 12 points behind as Bleyendaal's deadly accurate boot punished four penalties. Then French referee Romain Poite got fed up with the infringements and sent Ed Slater to the sin-bin.

While the second row was off the field, the Irish scrum half Conor Murray conjured up an opening on the fringe of a ruck with a magical inside pass to Simon Zebo. The full break went though the gap and crossed at the posts for a try which Bleyendaal improved to make it 19-0 at the break.

Munster's pace, power and precision kept the Tigers on the back foot in the second half and it did not take long before powerful South African centre, Jaco Taute, burst over after a great line-out drive in the visitors' 22. Bleyendaal hit the target once again with the conversion. The third try came from a break into the Tigers 22 by Darren Sweetnam that paved the way for Taute to score a brace before heading home at the end of his short term contract. A missed conversion took the score up to 31-0 before Manu Tuilagi followed Slater to the sin-bin for a reckless charge into a ruck, the final quarter remaining.

Taute was only robbed of a hat-trick by an off-the-ball tackle by Leicester full back, George Worth that earned him the third yellow card of the match and Munster a penalty try. Bleyendaal knocked over the simple conversion to take his match tally to 18 points before heading off with six minutes left to play.

A second bonus-point win keeps Munster on top of the table, a point clear of Glasgow Warriors, and still with a game in hand. Meanwhile, with a second away defeat it now looks like an uphill task for last season's semi-finalists, the Tigers, to qualify for the knock-out stages.

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo, Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, PETER O'MAHONY (C), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander BENCH: Rhys Marshall, Thomas Du Toit, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Andrew Conway

SCORERS T: Zebo, Taute (2), PT C: Bleyendaal (3) P: Bleyendaal (4)

TIGERS: George Worth, Adam Thompstone, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Williams, Peter Betham, Freddie Burns, Ben Youngs, Logovi'i  Mulipola, TOM YOUNGS (C), Greg Bateman, Ed Slater, Graham Kitchener, Michael Fitzgerald, Brendon O'Connor, Lachlan McCaffrey BENCH: George McGuigan, Ellis Genge, Pat Cilliers, Luke Hamilton, William Evans, Sam Harrison, Jack Roberts, Tom Brady

SCORERS Yellow Card Slater, Tuilagi, Worth

Referee: Romain Poite Asst Referees: Tual Trainini, Stéphane Boyer TMO: Arnaud Blondel

 

Racing 92RACING 92 14 - 23 GLASGOW WARRIORSGlasgow Warriors

Stade Yves-Du-Manoir - Saturday 10 December 2016
KO: 16:15 HT: 7-13 Att: 8,872

Racing 92 Glasgow WarriorsGLASGOW WARRIORS claimed a famous 23-14 triumph over Racing 92 in Paris as Gregor Townsend's men banished the demons of last season, when their quarter-final hopes faded in defeat.

 

The Pool 1 clash began at a frantic pace at Stade Yves-du-Manoir, and it did not take long for last season's runners-up seven minutes to hit the front. World Rugby Player of the Year, Dan Carter sent a long pass to Casey Laulala, who sent Brice Dulin racing away from his own half. The full-back combined with Joe Rokocoko, who powered towards the try line. But he was brought down, and the ball was worked back to the blindside, where Juan Imhoff dotted down at the corner for his second try in as many Champions Cup matches.

Glasgow replied swiftly after earning a penalty just inside the Racing 22 metre line moments after the restart, and Finn Russell got his side on the scoreboard. He added another penalty to cut the gap to a single-point, before a spell of heavy Racing pressure.

The Warrior spirit held firm as the visitors headed down the other end to take control of this crucial fixture through Alex Dunbar. Russell took the ball at first receiver and sent his centre crashing through a hole in the French defence to score, with Russell adding the conversion for a 13-7 lead. Jonny Gray then secured a vital turnover to help his side hold  their lead at half-time.

Russell was at the heart of things again as he was brought down just short of the Racing line, but his half-back partner Ali Price spotted a gap and sniped in to score at the base of the posts after 42 minutes. The conversion was duly added by Russell to give Glasgow a 20-7 lead.

Ryan Wilson then got his hands on the ball at a ruck to earn Townsend's men a crucial penalty deep in Racing territory. And Russell made no mistake to put his side 16 points ahead with just 15 minutes remaining.

Carter then danced through the Warriors defence to score, before converting to bring his side back to within nine points, but it was too little, too late and Glasgow look set to fight-it-out with Munster for top spot, though the Irishmen are already point ahead with a game in hand.

RACING: Brice Dulin, Joe Rokocoko, Casey Laulala, Anthony Tuitavke, Juan Imhoff, Dan Carter, Maxime Machenaud, Eddy Ben Arous, DIMITRI SZARZEWSKI (C), Cedate Gomes Sa, Manuel Carizza, Leone Nakarawa, Wenceslas Lauret, Yannick Nyanga, Antonie Claassen BENCH: Camille Chat, Viliamu Afatia, Luc Ducalcon, Gerbrandt Grobler, Chris Masoe, Xavier Chauveau, Benjamin Dambielle, Albert Vulivuli

SCORERS  T: Imhoff, Carter C: Carter (2)

WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Samuel Johnson, Lee Jones, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, JONNY GRAY (C), Robert Harley, Simone Favaro, Ryan Wilson BENCH: Corey Flynn, Alex Allan, Sila Puafisi, Brian Alainu'uese, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Mark Bennett, Sean Lamont

SCORERS T: Dunbar, Price C: Russell (2) P: Russell (3)

Referee: JP Doyle Asst Referees: John Meredith, Wayne Falla TMO: Trevor Fisher

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POOL 2Champions Cup Round 3 Pool 2

ZebreZEBRE RUGBY 6 - 36 TOULOUSEToulouse

Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi - Saturday 10 December 2016
KO: 15:00 HT: 6-29 Att: 3,000

Zebre Rugby ToulouseTOULOUSE ended a run of six Champions Cup games without a win as they overcame the foggy conditions to pile on the tries and points to beat Zebre Rugby 36-6 in their Pool 2 contest at Stadio Lanfranchi.

 

Needing to get maximum points out of their back-to-back matches against the struggling Italians, Clermont were pegged back initially by two penalties from home outside half Carlo Canna.

In between those two kicks Sebastien Bézy got the four-times European champions off the mark with a penalty of his own. The rest of the first half was pretty much one way traffic as the Top 14 team got into gear - wing Arthur Bonneval the first to cross the Zebre line with a 16th minute try that Bézy converted.

Then came a burst of two tries in five minutes from centre Gaël Fickou and lock Joe Tekori, both converted by Bézy, which put Toulouse in total command. On the stroke of half time wing Yoann Huget secured the bonus point with try No 4, and Bezy's conversion made it 29-6 at the break.

There was no let up for the home side in the second half as Bonneval raced over for his second try and Bézy's conversion took the lead out to 30 points.

The fog meant that the match was abandoned after 63 minutes, but the result stands for the former kings of European rugby to notch up a win after five tournament defeats and a draw.

ZEBRE: Edoardo Padovani, Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Boni, Tommy Castello, Dion Berryman, Carlo Canna, Guglielmo Palazzani, Bruno Postiglioni, Tommaso D'Apice, Dario Chistolini, QUINTIN GELDENHUYS (C), Gideon Koegelenberg, Derick Minnie, Johan Meyer, Federico Ruzza BENCH: Carlo Festuccia, Guillermo Roan, Pietro Ceccarelli, Valerio Bernabo, Josh Furno, Carlo Engelbrecht, Matteo Pratichetti, Giambattista Venditti

SCORERS P: Canna (2)

TOULOUSE: Alexis Palisson, Yoann Huget, FLORIAN FRITZ (C), Gael Fickou, Arthur Bonneval, Jean-Marc Doussain, Sébastien Bézy, Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Dorian Aldegheri, Richie Gray, Edwin Maka, Joe Tekori, Francois Cros, Gillian Galan BENCH: Christopher Tolofua, Gurthro Steenkamp, Census Johnston, Thierry Dusautoir, Gregory Lamboley, Luke McAlister, Toby Flood, Paul Perez

SCORERS T: Bonneval (2), Fickou, Tekori, Huget C: Bézy (4) P: Bézy

Referee: Ian Davies Asst Referees: Simon Rees, Jon Hardy TMO: Neil Hennessy

 

WaspsWASPS 32 - 17 CONNACHT RUGBYConnacht Rugby

Ricoh Arena - Sunday 11 December 2016
KO: 13:00 HT: 13-10 Att: 13,364

Wasps Connacht RugbyKURTLEY BEALE enjoyed a try-scoring European Rugby Champions Cup debut as Wasps beat Connacht 32-17 to take control of Pool 2. The Wallabies star stretched to score on his first match for seven months just six minutes in, but then promptly spent ten on the naughty step.

 

Wasps opened the scoring with Beale receiving the ball five metres out before he spun out of a collision with Stacey Ili and stretched over the line to score. Jimmy Gopperth added the extras to give the hosts an early 7-0 lead. But Beale's dream debut turned sour when he was sin-binned for a high tackle on Niyi Adeolokun.

Jack Carty got his side on the scoreboard from the resulting penalty, before Gopperth landed one of his own. But Pat Lam's men fought-back to level the scores through Kieran Marmion. The pack shunted Wasps back at a scrum, before captain John Muldoon scooped up the ball and found the Ireland scrum-half, who darted over to score. However, Gopperth landed a penalty to give his men a narrow 13-10 lead at half-time.

After the break, Ashley Johnson powered into the heart of the Connacht defence before England No8 Nathan Hughes barged his way over the goal line. Gopperth successful conversion gave the homeside a 20-10 lead.

However, replacement Rory Parata made sure the game would not get away from his side when he picked off a pass from Gopperth and raced home to score at the posts. Another Carty conversion and the visitors were in touching distance, just three points short.

Both sides brought on a host of replacements while Wasps captain Joe Launchbury struck a decisive blow at the start of the final quarter. The skipper received a long pass from Gopperth and charged over the line, which the fly half duly converted. All that was left outstanding was a try bonus point, which Beale directed deftly to put Josh Bassett over in the corner. The missed conversion was irrelevant as Wasps now top the Pool , three points clear of Connacht.

WASPS: Rob Miller, Christian Wade, Alapati Leiua, Kurtley Beale, Josh Bassett, Jimmy Gopperth, Dan Robson, Matt Mullan, Tommy Taylor, Martin Moore, JOE LAUNCHBURY (C), Kearnan Myall, Ashley Johnson, Thomas Young, Nathan Hughes BENCH: Alex Rieder, Tom Bristow, Jake Cooper-Woolley, James Gaskell, Guy Thompson, Joe Simpson, Brendan Macken, Frank Halai

SCORERS T: Beale, Hughes, Launchbury, Bassett C: Gopperth (3) P: Gopperth (2) Yellow Card Beale

CONNACHT: Tiernan O'Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Stacey Ili, Bundee Aki, Cian Kelleher, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Nepia Fox Matamua, Jake Heenan, JOHN MULDOON (C) BENCH: David Heffernan, JP Cooney, Finlay Bealham, Sean O'Brien, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Rory Parata, Matt Healy

SCORERS T: Marmion, Parata C: Carty (2) P: Carty

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz Asst Referees: Cedric Marchat, Cedric Clave TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

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POOL 3Champions Cup Round 3 Pool 3

SaracensSARACENS 50 - 3 SALE SHARKS Sale Sharks

Allianz Park - Saturday 10 December 2016
KO: 17:30 HT: 26-3 Att: 8,746

Saracens Sale SharksSARACENS annihilated  fellow English side Sale to take control of European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 with a convincing 50-3 victory and seal an 11th straight home win. The defending champions once again look the team to beat this season and served notice of their intentions to make it back-to-back titles with a commanding bonus point success.

 

Owen Farrell fired Saracens into the lead at a rain-drenched Allianz Park with a penalty after six minutes. The first try arrived almost as quickly when Richard Wigglesworth looked to have forced his way over, but TMO Eric Briquet-Campin clarified rugby league convert, Josh Charnley, managed to stop him just short. Farrell added another penalty moments later to pull his side six points clear, before USA Eagles outside-half, AJ MacGinty narrowed the gap with a shot of his own. But these were the first and last points registered for the visitors.

Marcelo Bosch finally made the made the try-scoring breakthrough as the second quarter approached; Wigglesworth spotted a gap at the side of a ruck and streaked downfield. He offloaded to Schalk Burger, who found Bosch in support. The centre ran-in unopposed, and Farrell’s conversion put Sarries 13-3 ahead.

Farrell added another penalty, before he sent Scottish international, Sean Maitland through a hole in the Sale midfield, and the wing raced home to score. Bosch added a late long distance penalty to send Saracens into the changing rooms with a 26-3 lead.

The one-sided nature of the contest continued after the break. Farrell returned to the field, but was fast removed a minute later for Alex Lozowski, then the Sharks were dealt their next blow when Jonathan Mills was yellow carded for bringing down a lineout.

Down to 14, the visitors were up against it and Saracens quickly added three more scores.  England’s hooking heir-apparent, Jamie George powered over, Chris Wyles collected an Alex Goode grubber to dive over in the corner and Maitland added his second following what looked like a questionable forward pass. Lozowski booted one conversion from those three scores and at 43-3, the game was over.

Sale introduced former Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips in the final quarter in the hope of an injection of direction from an experienced play-maker. But recent replacement prop, James Flynn took the side back down to 14 men for a high tackle on Schalk Brits, discipline letting down the Northerners.

There was still time for one more score as the continued incessantly, more akin to a winter’s night in the North West where the visitors should have been in their comfort zone. Richard Barrington barrelled his way over in the 73rd minute, and Lozowski’s conversion took the champions to a half century score.

Mark McCall's men simply had too much in attack for their opposition and in the process, recorded their 12th straight European victory, just one short of Munster's record.

SARACENS: Alex Goode, Sean Maitland, Marcelo Bosch, BRAD BARRITT (C), Chris Wyles, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Petrus du Plessis, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Michael Rhodes, Kelly Brown, Schalk Burger BENCH: Schalk Brits, Richard Barrington, Vincent Koch, Jim Hamilton, Will Skelton, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Nathan Earle

SCORERS T: Bosch, Maitland (2), George, Wyles, Barrington C: Farrell (2), Lozowski (2) P: Farrell (3), Bosch

SHARKS: Tom Arscott, Paulo Odogwu, Sam James, Johnny Leota, Josh Charnley, AJ MacGinty, James Mitchell, Ross Harrison, Rob Webber, Brian Mujati, JOSH BEAUMONT (C), Jon Mills, Thomas Curry, David Seymour, Laurence Pearce BENCH: Cameron Neild, James Flynn, Ciaran Parker, George Nott, Ben Curry, Mike Phillips, Mark Jennings, Daniel Mugford

SCORERS P: MacGinty Yellow Card Pearce, Mills, Flynn

Referee: Mathieu Raynal Asst Referees: Maxime Chalon, Thomas Dejean TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin

 

ToulonRC TOULON 31 - 20 SCARLETSScarlets

Stade Félix Mayol - Sunday 11 December 2016
KO: 16:15 HT: 24-13 Att: 11,978

RC Toulon ScarletsFORMER triple champions RC Toulon picked up a vital bonus-point to stay in touch with Pool 3 leaders and incumbent champions Saracens as they over-powered the Scarlets at Stade Mayol.

 

Toulon made a strong start matching minutes with points, Mamuka Gorgodze crashing over after man of the match Mathieu Bastareaud had put a hole in the visiting defence. Leigh Halfpenny converted and added a penalty to take the French side 10 points clear.

Rhys Patchell booted two penalties to keep his team in touch, but the opposition Welsh fullback, Halfpenny scored a try of his own -Bastareaud again the creator- to extend the lead to 17-6. Romain Taofifenua then reached for the line to score Toulon's third in what was an entertaining encounter with only half an hour gone.

While the Scarlets threw the ball wide at every opportunity, the French giants and their dominant pack remained the main threat. But Wayne Pivac's men refused to go away; Ken Owens took a flat pass close to the line and his excellent low body position saw him make his way over the line through two opposition tackles. Patchell converted to make it 24-13 to the home side at half time.

The Scarlets started the second period with the sort of intent which showed they believed they could take something back to Llanelli. Gareth Davies dived for the line but was tackled just short before the game's crucial moment arrived. Scott Williams looked to have found Steffan Evans with a try scoring pass, the winger running round to dot down near the posts. The score, though, was ruled out for a knock-on by Williams before he passed to Evans.

Relieved for the close calls amounting to nothing, Toulon shot straight up to the business end of the pitch and skipper, Guilhem Guirado was the scorer as another huge forward surge from a line-out splintered the visiting pack. Halfpenny once again converted on what was a perfect day with the boot for the Wales ace, taking the score to 31-13 with just under half an hour remaining.

Both sides brought on fresh legs, but neither could find a way through, and Toulon played out the final eight minutes with 14 men after Taofifenua was sent to the sin bin for dragging down a line-out.

This was the opportunity the Scarlets had been waiting for, and with a man advantage, John Barclay powered over the goal line. Patchell’s conversion took the visitors to a respectable 20 points, but they still left with nothing with only a minute left on the clock, and no way of making up the 11-point shortfall.

TOULON: Leigh Halfpenny, James O'Connor, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana, Pierre Bernard, Jonathan Pelissié, Xavier Chiocci, GUILHEM GUIRADO (C), Marcel Van Der Merwe, Jocelino Suta, Romain Taofifenua, Charles Ollivon, Mamuka Gorgodze, Samu Manoa BENCH: Jean-Charles Orioli, Laurent Delboulbès, Levan Chilachava, Juandré  Kruger, Maxime Mermoz, Jimmy Yobo, Eric Escande, Duane Vermeulen

SCORERS T: Gorgodze, Halfpenny, Taofifenua, Guirado C: Halfpenny (4) P: Halfpenny Yellow Card Taofifenua

SCARLETS: Liam Williams, DTH van der Merwe, Hadleigh Parkes, Scott Williams, Steff Evans, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies, Wyn Jones, KEN OWENS (C), Werner Kruger, Jake Ball, Tom Price, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay BENCH: Ryan Elias, Rob Evans, Samson Lee, Tadhg Beirne, Will Boyde, Jonathan Evans, Aled Thomas, Gareth Owen

SCORERS T: Owens, Barclay C: Patchell (2) P: Patchell (2)

Referee: Greg Garner Asst Referees: Luke Pearce, Nigel Carrick TMO: Rowan Kitt

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POOL 4Champions Cup Round 3 Pool 4

Northampton SaintsNORTHAMPTON SAINTS 10 - 37 LEINSTER Leinster Rugby

Franklin's Gardens - Friday 09 December 2016
KO: 19:45 HT: 3-10 Att: 15,151

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS' 100th European game ended in a 37-10 defeat by Leinster as England captain Dylan Hartley was red carded at Franklin's Gardens. With two star-studded teams both boasting a host of returning internationals, England head coach Eddie Jones was among the crowd watching on.

Dylan Hartley red card

There was only one side in the first 10 minutes, Leinster starting the game with the sort of intent which left their English opponents clutching at straws. Ferocious in the forward exchanges and devastating in wide areas, the Irish province hit their straps from the first minute. It did not take long for them to move ahead, either. Rob Kearney received the ball at first receiver and sold the Northampton defence a wonderful dummy. Finding himself in space, the full-back passed to Garry Ringrose inside him to leave the young centre a simple run to the line. Captain Isa Nacewa converted and added a penalty after a huge Leinster scrum splintered the Northampton eight. It all amounted to a 10-0 lead in as many minutes.

 

It looked a question of how many points Leinster wanted to score, but the loss of young fly-half Joey Carbery handed the Saints a lifeline. Carbery was replaced by Ross Byrne and given a quick chance to draw breath, Northampton regrouped. Some excellent work by prop Paul Hill earned a penalty which Myler slotted from range at the end of the first quarter, before the home side lost a man of their own as wing Jamie Elliot limped off.

In a brutally physical encounter, Leinster forwards Tadgh Furlong and Jamie Heaslip were leading the charge for the visitors, Josh van der Flier escaping down the blindside with one break. But as much as Leinster dominated, Northampton stood tall in defence. England flanker Tom Wood led the charge, helping to repel wave after wave of pressure just before the break, holding the Irishmen to a 10-3 lead.

Leinster suffered another blow when they lost Kearney at the start of the second period. Nacewa moved to full-back with O'Loughlin coming on for his European debut on the wing.

Northampton sensed blood and it was JJ Hanrahan who came up trumps. The former Munster man, playing at centre, put his team on the front foot with a half break and when the ball was recycled, his perfect flat pass found Ahsee Tuala - who had replaced Elliot - out wide. The substitute dived over and with Myler nailing the touchline conversion, the game was level at 10-10. Suddenly, it was all action.

Nacewa put Leinster back ahead with a monster penalty, Northampton then surprisingly turning down the chance of three points and turning the ball over after kicking to the corner. Leinster then moved further ahead. O'Brien's powerful leg drive saw him crash over to score in the 56th minute, Nacewa adding the extras before Hartley was duly sent for a churlish swinging arm on Sean O'Brien just six minutes after coming on when the Irish side were 10 points ahead.



Down to 14, Northampton's hopes of a comeback were over and Byrne's cross-kick found Rory O'Loughlin who out-jumped Ben Foden to score, though Nacewa missed the conversion.

But the visitors were not done as Jamison Gibson-Park went over for a fourth try, duly converted while the Saints lost JJ Hanrahan to a recurring ankle injury.  The homeside ended the game with 13 men after George Pisi's yellow card, and a late fifth try from Nacewa moved the Irish side top of Pool 4, all but ending Northampton's chances of reaching the latter stages, completing a night to forget for Jim Mallinder and his men.

SAINTS: Ben Foden, Ken Pisi, Luther Burrell, JJ Hanrahan, Jamie Elliott, Steve Myler, Nic Groom, Alex Waller, Mikey Haywood, Paul Hill, Michael Paterson, Courtney Lawes, Jamie Gibson, TOM WOOD (C), Louis Picamoles BENCH: Dylan Hartley, Ethan Waller, Gareth Denman, Api Ratuniyarawa, Teimana Harrison, Tom Kessell, George Pisi, Ahsee Tuala

SCORERS T: Tuala C: Myler P: Myler Yellow Card George Pisi Red Card Hartley

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney, Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, ISA NACEWA (C), Joey Carbery, Luke McGrath, Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs, Sean O'Brien, Josh Van Der Flier, Jamie Heaslip BENCH: James Tracy, Cian Healy, Michael Bent, Rhys Ruddock, Jack Conan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Rory O'Loughlin

SCORERS T: Ringrose, O'Brien, O'Loughlin, Gibson-Park, Nacewa C: Nacewa (3) P: Nacewa (2)

Referee: Jérôme Garcès Asst Referees: Adrien Descottes, Sebastian Cloute TMO: Eric Gauzins

 

MontpellierMONTPELLIER 32 - 14 CASTRES OLYMPIQUECastres Olympique

Altrad Stadium - Sunday 11 December 2016
KO: 14:00 HT: 10-11 Att: 11,260

Montpellier Castres OlympiqueMONTPELLIER made it back-to-back home wins in the Champions Cup as they overcame losing Davit Kubriashvili for three-quarters of the match to a red card to beat TOP 14 rivals Castres Olympique.

 

Before the homeside were faced with being a man down for the majority of the match, Castres were leading 8-3 thanks to an early Rory Kockott penalty and a 40 metre interception ruby by the right wing Remi Grosso after he picked off a long, floating pass from Jesse Mogg. The Georgian tight head prop, Kubriashvili was then given his marching orders by Welsh referee Ben Whitehouse in the 18th minute for charging into a ruck and striking Castres lock Thibault Lassale in the face with his shoulder.

Kockott added a second penalty to make it 11-3, but on the stroke of halftime the home pack drove to the line from a five metre line-out and created an opening on the blindside for Fijian wing Timoci Nagusa to barge his way through David Smith for his 11th European Cup try. Francois Steyn converted off the touchline to make it 11-10 to Castres at the break.

Despite being a man down, the second half belonged almost entirely to the home side, with their seven man pack magnificent in all aspects. Castres changed their half-backs at the break, and their Argentinian No10, Ben Urdapilleta kicked them ahead for the last time with a simple penalty a minute after the restart.

Three tries flowed from Jake White's men as they claimed an unlikely bonus-point to stay within one point of Pool 4 leaders Leinster. Tries two and three came from driving line-outs, flanker Kelian Galletier and hooker Shalva Mamukashvili crossing. Castres lost replacement back row man Alexandre Bias to a yellow card for the final eight minutes, and finally Nagusa created the opening for Nic White to score the vital fourth, two minutes from time.

MONTPELLIER: Jesse Mogg, Timoci Nagusa, Vincent Martin, Alexandre Dumoulin, Nemani Nadolo, Frans Steyn, Nic White, Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Davit Kubriashvili, Konstantine Mikautadze, Nico Janse van Rensburg, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Kelian Galletier, AKAPUSI QERA (C) BENCH: Charles Geli, Yvan Watremez, Jannie Du Plessis, Antoine Battut, Wiaan Liebenberg, Cameron Wright, Benjamin Fall, Demetri Catrakilis

SCORERS T: Nagusa, Galletier, Mamukashvili, White C: Steyn (3) P: Steyn (2) Red Card Kubriashvili

CASTRES: Pierre Berard, Remi Grosso, Thomas Combezou, Afusipa Taumoepeau, David Smith, Julien Dumora, Rory Kockott, Antoine Tichit, Brice Mach, Daniel Kotze, Thibault Lassale, RODRIGO CAPO ORTEGA (C), Mathieu Babillot, Anthony Jelonch, Alex Tulou BENCH: Marc-Antoine Rallier, Tudor Stroe, Damien Tussac, Victor Moreaux, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Alexandre Bias, Antoine Dupont, Florian Vialelle

SCORERS T: Grosso P: Kockott (2), Urdapilleta Yellow Card Bias

Referee: Ben Whitehouse Asst Referees: Sean Brickell, Wayne Davies TMO: Jonathan Mason

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POOL 5Champions Cup Round 3 Pool 5

Ulster RugbyULSTER RUGBY 39 - 32 CLERMONT AUVERGNEASM Clermont Auvergne

Kingspan Stadium - Saturday 10 December 2016
KO: 13:00 HT: 22-18 Att: 16,316

Ulster Rugby ASM Clermont AuvergneULSTER delivered a strong performance to down Pool 5 front-runners ASM Clermont Auvergne 39-32 at the Kingspan Stadium. First-half scores from Luke Marshall, Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson gave the hosts a slender advantage. Marshall completed his brace for the bonus-point score before Charles Piutau sealed the victory in a Champions Cup thriller.

 

ASM Clermont Auvergne, however, stayed in it thanks to scores from Peceli Yato and Scott Spedding, earning two match points of their own when Nick Abendanon and Damien Chouly crashed over late on, putting  the TOP 14 heavyweights three points ahead of Ulster in the race for the quarter-finals.

The vocal Kingspan Stadium support were left stunned after just 69 seconds after the kickoff was reclaimed by Clermont for Camille Lopez and Abendanon combined to send the visitors down deep into Ulster territory. Yato then picked up from close range to burrow over the try line, and Morgan Parra added the extras for an early 7-0 lead.

Ulster soon levelled the scoreboard after Sean Reidy carried hard into the heart of the Clermont defence before Marshall ran a devastating angle to cut through on a short ball from Paddy Jackson to score. The Ulster fly-half converted with aplomb, but Parra nudged his side ahead again with a penalty.

The drama continued as Piutau broke clear downfield, failed to find the scoring pass, but with a penalty advantage, Ruan Pienaar delivered a perfectly weighted cross-kick to an airborne Tommy Bowe. The Ireland wing deftly offloaded to Henderson to score.

Jackson and Parra traded penalties to make it 15-13 before it was Clermont's turn to showcase their deadly attacking skills. Lopez lured in a pair of defenders as Yato drove towards the try line. Parra then picked up and found Lamerat, who used his quick hands to send Spedding over at the corner, but the conversion did not come.

The game swung back Ulster's way once again when Jackson nudged a clever grubber kick through with his left foot before collecting a right-footed poke ahead to score. He added the conversion to send Ulster in 22-18 at the break.

It was not long until Ulster secured the four-try bonus-point through Marshall. Stuart McCloskey made the hard yards in the midfield for his centre partner to crash over. Piutau then gift-wrapped the result when he also took the ball in midfield, beat Spedding and Remi Lamerat to dot down at the corner in sublime fashion. Jackson was on-target with the touchline conversion, and another penalty from the fly half had Ulster cruising at 39-18 heading into the final quarter.

However, the visitors had not given up, and were not leaving Belfast empty-handed. Swiftly, Abendanon raced over to give Clermont a glimmer of hope, before Chouly crashed over from close range to earn a try-scoring bonus-point and another point for getting within seven points.

The Ulstermen had the win, but finished the match a man down with Rodney Ah You in the bin, and Clermont will still hold pole position in the pool after round 3, sitting pretty with 12 points to Ulster’s nine.

ULSTER: Charles Piutau, Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Louis Ludik, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Kyle McCall, RORY BEST (C), Wiehahn Herbst, Pete Browne, Robbie Diack, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Sean Reidy BENCH: Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Rodney Ah You, Kieran Treadwell, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Darren Cave, Jacob Stockdale

SCORERS T: Luke Marshall (2), Henderson, Jackson, Piutau C: Jackson (4) P: Jackson (2) Yellow Card Ah You

CLERMONT: Scott Spedding, David Strettle, Remi Lamerat, Wesley Fofana, Nick Abendanon, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra, Raphael Chaume, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Flip Van Der Merwe, Sébastien Vahaamahina, DAMIEN CHOULY (C), Alexandre Lapandry, Peceli Yato BENCH: Yohan Beheregaray, Etienne Falgoux, Clément Ric, Sitaleki Timani, Camille Gerondeau, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Benson Stanley, Alivereti Raka

SCORERS T: Yato, Spedding, Abendanon, Chouly C: Parra (3) P: Parra (2)

Referee: Wayne Barnes Asst Referees: Peter Allan, Paul Dix TMO: Sean Davey

 

Exeter Chiefs EXETER CHIEFS 7 - 13 BORDEAUX-BÈGLESBordeaux Bègles

Sandy Park Stadium - Sunday 11 December 2016
KO: 17:30 HT: 7-3 Att: 9,143

Exeter Chiefs Bordeaux BeglesBORDEAUX-BÈGLES stayed in the hunt for the quarter-finals with a smash-and-grab raid at a fog bound Sandy Park. The TOP 14 side slipped behind to a Jack Maunder try after the game had remained scoreless for the opening 30 minutes. Gareth Steenson added the conversion, but the Chiefs should have been much further ahead by then.

 

Lachie Turner and Steenson twice went within inches of scoring, but the Bordeaux defence stood firm. Better than that, they created a position for scrum half Baptiste Serin to kick a penalty to reduce the arrear to 7-3 at the break.

The game looked as though it could be in some danger as the fog rolled in even more just before half-time, but it cleared in the second half to allow the game to go the full distance. The home side had the greater possession and territory in the second half, but Bordeaux attacked of the base of a scrum against the head in the 22 and No 8 Marco Tauleigne sent Serin racing clear to the posts for a try that gave the visitors the lead.

Ian Madigan added the simple conversion and then his replacement, Lionel Beauxis, kicked a penalty to leave the Chiefs trailing by six points. It looked as though wing James Short had cut the gap with a wonder run from the 10 metre line, but he just lost control of the ball on the line as he stretched to score.

That summed up Exeter's evening and, with three successive defeats in Pool 5 their hopes of backing up their trip to the quarter-finals last season are over.

CHIEFS: Lachlan Turner, Jack Nowell, Ollie Devoto, Henry Slade, James Short, GARETH STEENSON (C), Jack Maunder, Ben Moon, Jack Yeandle, Tom Francis, Geoff Parling, Jonny Hill, Dave Ewers, Don Armand, Dave Dennis BENCH: Shaun Malton, Carl Rimmer, Greg Holmes, Ollie Atkins, Kai Horstmann, Will Chudley, Sam Hill, Michele Campagnaro

SCORERS T: Maunder C: Steenson

BORDEAUX: Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Nans Ducuing, Romain Lonca, Julien Rey, Blair Connor, Ian Madigan, BAPTISTE SERIN (C), Steven Kitshoff, Ole Avei, Marc Clerc, Tom Palmer, Berend Botha, Loann Goujon, Joe Edwards, Marco Tauleigne BENCH: Clement Maynadier, Sébastien Taofifenua, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Luke Jones, Hugh Chalmers, Yann Lesgourgues, Lionel Beauxis, Jean-Baptiste Dubié

SCORERS T: Serin C: Madigan P: Serin, Beauxis

Referee: Nigel Owens Asst Referees: Gwyn Morris, Robert Price TMO: Paul Adams

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EPCR Round 1

POOL 1Champions Cup Round 2 Pool 1

Munster RugbyMUNSTER 38 - 17 GLASGOW WARRIORSGlasgow Warriors

Thomond Park - Saturday 22 October 2016
KO: 13:00 HT: 24-3 Att: 25,600

Munster Rugby Glasgow WarriorsAT the end of a horrendous week for the Munster rugby family they all came together to pack out Thomond Park and put on a display of which Anthony Foley would have approved. It was emotional from start to finish and the occasion seemed to get the better of Keith Earls, who was issued with a straight red card by French referee Jerome Graces in the 18th minute for a tip tackle on Glasgow hooker Fraser Brown. On any normal occasion that might have been critical, but not on this day.

 

By then Munster were already two tries ahead thanks to a third minute try by man of the match Tyler Bleyendaal and a second from Springbok centre Jaco Taute. Bleyendaal converted both and the only return Glasgow could muster was a Finn Russell penalty.

With many of the Munster greats of the past, like team mates of Foley such as Paul O'Connell and Ronan O'Gara, watching on from the stands, the team worked harder than ever before and coped admirably without Earls. At times it even seemed as though they had extra men on the field such was the passion and fervour with which they played.

Bleyendaal kept the scoreboard moving with a penalty and then Simon Zebo wriggled his ay over in the left corner just before the break for a try which the outside half again improved off the touchline to give Munster a 24-3 interval lead.

A converted penalty try brought Munster the bonus point, and it was shaping into the perfect farewell for the man that one banner in the crowd proclaimed was the 'Lost King of Thomond'.

Gregor Townsend's Warriors rallied as the home side naturally tired and there were tries from Pat MacArthur and Mark Bennett, both of which Stuart Hogg converted, but nobody was going to deny Munster the final word. A fifth try from centre Rory Scannell added the final seal of approval and Ian Keatley popped over the conversion.

It was a vintage performance from Munster and a day that nobody who was among the 25,600 crowd will ever forget. The day ended with the Munster players taking Foley's two sons, Tony and Dan, into the team circle on the pitch to join in a stirring rendition of 'Stand Up and Fight'. The crowd joined in and the deafening roar that had accompanied the action from start to finish was heard one final time. It was a magnificent end to a magnificent Munster rugby occasion.

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo, Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, PETER O'MAHONY (C), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander BENCH: Duncan Casey, Brian Scott, Stephen Archer, Robin Copeland, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Ronan O'Mahony

SCORERS T: Bleyendaal, Taute, Zebo, PT. Rory Scannell C: Bleyendaal (4), Keatley P: Bleyendaal Red Card Earls

WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont, Alex Dunbar, Samuel Johnson, Rory Hughes, Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos, Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, JONNY GRAY (C), Robert Harley, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss BENCH: Pat MacArthur, Alex Allan, Sila Puafisi, Lewis Wynne, Simone Favaro, Ali Price, Mark Bennett, Pete Murchie

SCORERS T: MacArthur, Bennett C: Hogg (2) P: Russell

Referee: Jerome Garcès Asst Referees: Adrien Descottes, Sebastian Cloute TMO: Arnaud Blondel

 

Leicester TigersLEICESTER TIGERS 27 - 17 RACING 92Racing 92

Welford Road - Sunday 23 October 2016
KO: 17:30 HT: 11-3 Att: 19,048

Leicester Tigers Racing 92LEICESTER TIGERS gained revenge for their Champions Cup semi-final defeat by Racing 92 last season as they got themselves back into the equation in Pool 1.  Freddie Burns returned to face Dan Carter once again and came out on top with a 70 metre interception try and 11 points from the boot. Those points came on top of a try in the third minute by Brendon O'Connor and two penalties from Owen Williams for the home side in the first half.

 

O'Connor's try in the right corner gave the Tigers a flying start and the power of their scrum caused problems for Racing all night. The only other points of the opening 40 minutes came from a Dan Carter penalty and those two strikes from Williams.

Carter then bemused the home defence with a weaving, dummying run from just outside the Tigers 22 to cross for a wonder try at the posts that he also converted to cut the gap to a single point. Then it seemed as though it was anyone's game.

But Burns came into the contest and made an immediate impact. He kicked two penalties in quick succession and then read a Racing move off the back of a scrum on the home 22 to intercept a pass from Maxime Machenaud intended for his midfield and raced 70 metres to score a try he also converted.

Carter was thwarted by a great tackle by Matthew Tait to deny him a second try. The referee went upstairs to the TMO, but the All Black was deemed to have put the ball down a blade of grass short of the whitewash. Racing flexed their muscles again to create an overlap try for Imhoff five minutes from time and Carter's touchline conversion brought his side into losing bonus-point territory. But then Burns took it all away fro them with his third penalty to take his match tally to 16 points.

TIGERS: Telusa Veainu, Adam Thompstone, Matthew Tait, Matt Toomua, JP Pietersen, Owen Williams, Ben Youngs, Marcos Ayerza, TOM YOUNGS (C), Dan Cole, Ed Slater, Dom Barrow, Michael Fitzgerald, Brendon O'Connor, Lachlan McCaffrey BENCH: George McGuigan, Logovi'i Mulipola, Greg Bateman, Graham Kitchener, William Evans, Sam Harrison, Freddie Burns, Peter Betham

SCORERS T: O'Connor, Burns C: Burns P: Williams (2), Burns (3)

RACING: Brice Dulin, Joe Rokocoko, Johannes Goosen, Henry Chavancy, Juan Imhoff, Dan Carter, MAXIME MACHENAUD (C), Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat, Ben Tameifuna, Leone Nakarawa, Manuel Carizza, Wenceslas Lauret, Yannick Nyanga, Chris Masoe BENCH: Virgile Lacombe, Viliamu Afatia, Luc Ducalcon, Francois van der Merwe, Thibault Dubarry, James Hart, Albert Vulivuli, Anthony Tuitavake

SCORERS T: Carter, Imhoff C: Carter (2) P: Carter

Referee: Marius Mitrea Asst Referees: Matteo Liperini, Stefano Penne TMO: Carlo Damasco

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POOL 2Champions Cup Round 2 Pool 2

ToulouseTOULOUSE 20 - 20 WASPSWasps

Stade Ernest Wallon - Sunday 23 October 2016
KO: 16:15 HT: 6-6 Att: 14,206

Toulouse WaspsJIMMY GOPPERTH converted Nathan Hughes's last-gasp try to earn Wasps a gritty 20-20 draw at Toulouse. Gopperth kicked 10 points in all with Hughes and wing Josh Bassett getting over the whitewash to deny their French hosts a valuable win following their round 1 loss at Connacht.

 

Toulouse twice held a lead of seven points but tries from replacement Census Johnston and centre Gaël Fickou, plus 10 points from Sebastien Bézy could not give them the spoils.

Gopperth, playing in the unfamiliar position of full-back, gave the home side an early lead but Bézy soon levelled matters as the home side made the better start. The scrum-half then gave them the lead after Maxime Medard's adventure from deep had sparked a flowing attack which ended deep in Wasps territory.

However, the French side failed to claim the restart and infringed to allow Gopperth the simple chance to bring the sides level again. Wasps were having to put plenty of defensive work in and had to survive a siege on their line on the stroke of half-time after Christian Wade had given up a five-metre scrum by misjudging Toby Flood's kick for touch. Time and again the scrum was set and reset by referee George Clancy, but the English side lifted the pressure when Danny Cipriani held Carl Axtens up over the line.

However, Wasps undid their good work by conceding a soft try 10 minutes into the second half. Wade's decision to take a quick line-out deep in his own 22 as Wasps failed to clear their lines. It ended with Thierry Dusautoir charging down Cipriani's kick and Johnston picking up to rumble over. Bézy converted but the game was beginning to loosen up and Wasps looked the happier with that development and put together their best passage of play in the game only for Gopperth's final pass not to go to hand.

They did not have to wait long for a try however, with Gopperth sending Bassett racing over and adding the extras to level. Back came Toulouse and they reclaimed the lead when Fickou feinted this way and that to cut through the spread Wasps defence and crash over. Bézy converted for a seven-point Toulouse lead, but Wasps would not wilt and they got their reward as Hughes slipped through Paul Perez to score, with Gopperth nailing the crucial conversion.

TOULOUSE: Maxime Médard, Yoann Huget, Gael Fickou, Yann David, Paul Perez, Toby Flood, Sébastien Bézy, Cyril Baille, Christopher Tolofua, Dorian Aldegheri, Yoann Maestri, Joe Tekori, Francois Cros, THIERRY DUSAUTOIR (C), Carl Axtens BENCH: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Gurthro Steenkamp, Census Johnston, Gregory Lamboley, Piula Fa’asalele, Jean-Marc Doussain, Florian Fritz, Kunatani Kunabuli

SCORERS  T: Johnston, Fickou C: Bézy (2) P: Bézy (2)

WASPS: Jimmy Gopperth, Christian Wade, Elliot Daly, Kyle Eastmond, Josh Bassett, Danny Cipriani, Dan Robson, Matt Mullan, Tommy Taylor, Jake Cooper-Woolley, JOE LAUNCHBURY (C), Matt Symons, Ashley Johnson, Thomas Young, Nathan Hughes BENCH: Tom Cruse, Tom Bristow, Martin Moore, Kearnan Myall, Guy Thompson, Joe Simpson, Rob Miller, Alapati Leiua

SCORERS T: Bassett, Hughes C: Gopperth (2) P: Gopperth (2)

Referee: George Clancy Asst Referees: Leo Colgan, Barrie O'Connell TMO: Simon McDowell

 

ZebreZEBRE RUGBY 7 - 52 CONNACHT RUGBYConnacht Rugby

Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi - Sunday 23 October 2016
KO: 16:15 HT: 0-14 Att: 3,000

Zebre Connacht RugbySTACEY ILI scored a hat-trick as Connacht romped to their biggest win in the Champions Cup with an eight-try demolition of 14-man Zebre. Wing Ili crossed three times in an eventful clash at Stadio Lanfranchi that also saw two yellow cards and a red in the first half, for Zebre hooker Oliviero Fabiani.

 

Connacht full-back Cian Kelleher also crossed twice in the second half as the Guinness Pro12 champions smashed their previous record score - also against Zebre - in this tournament. Pat Lam's side made their intentions clear from the opening exchanges though were helped by Italian mistakes.

Pressure told in the tenth minute when Ili raced onto Jack Carty's kick to touch down in the corner and Ronaldson converted. Carty then scored himself but it was courtesy of Peter Robb's bone-crunching tackle on Carlo Canna that dislodged the ball and the fly-half galloped in from the half-way line.

Sean O'Brien was binned for knocking the ball out of Marcello Violi's hands on 29 minutes but worse was to come for Zebre just seconds later when hooker Fabiani was dismissed by French referee, Mathieu Raynal for biting Connacht lock Quinn Roux.

Ili grabbed his second try just a minute into the second half and Zebre were down to 13 men when centre Tommy Castello was ruled to have deliberately infringed at a ruck. He saw his third ruled out for a forward pass but Connacht still made their advantage count with three tries in a remarkable six-minute blitz. The forwards applied enough pressure to earn a penalty try, Kelleher skipped over for this first and prop Conor Carey touched down between 51 and 55 minutes.

Zebre avoided a whitewash when Tommaso D'Apice dived over from a yard out at the start of the final quarter, only for Kelleher and Ili to complete the rout.

ZEBRE: Edoardo Padovani, Gabriele Di Giulio, Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Boni, Giambattista Venditti, Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi, Andrea Lovotti, Oliviero Fabiani, Pietro Ceccarelli, Quintin Geldenhuys, GEORGE BIAGI (C), Maxime Mbandà, Johan Meyer, Dries van Schalkwyk BENCH: Tommaso D'Apice, Bruno Postiglioni, Guillermo Roan, Josh Furno, Federico Ruzza, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tommy Castello, Giovanni D'Onofrio

SCORERS  T: d'Apice C: Padovani Yellow Card Castello Red Card Fabiani

CONNACHT: Cian Kelleher, Niyi Adeolokun, Peter Robb, Craig Ronaldson, Stacey Ili, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, JP Cooney, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, Andrew Browne, Sean O'Brien, Jake Heenan, JOHN MULDOON (C) BENCH: David Heffernan, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Shane O'Leary, Bundee Aki

SCORERS T: Ili (3), Carty, PT. Kelleher (2), Carey C: Ronaldson (5), O'Leary Yellow Card O'Brien

Referee: Mathieu Raynal Asst Referees: Tual Trainini, Thomas Dejean TMO: Eric Gauzins

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POOL 3Champions Cup Round 2 Pool 3

Sale Sharks SALE SHARKS 5 - 15 RC TOULONToulon

AJ Bell Stadium - Friday 21 October 2016
KO: 19:45 HT: 5-15 Att: 9,402

Sale Sharks ToulonTOULON made the most of the fifth minute sin-binning of Magnus Lund to plunder 15 points that ultimately earned them a gritty win over Sale Sharks 15-5, the Sale scrum half Peter Stringer made his 101st appearance in the European Cup at the end of a day in which he had attended the funeral of his former Munster and Ireland team mate Anthony Foley. There was a minute's silence in memory of Foley before the kick-off.

 

Lund saw yellow for a no-arms, late tackle on opposite number Juan Martin Fernandez-Lobbe and no sooner had he departed than Leigh Halfpenny stuck the first points with a penalty. Three minutes later back row man Charles Ollivon blasted through the short-handed home defence for the opening try.

Halfpenny had no problem with the conversion and then the Wales and British & Irish Lions full back ran in a second try. This time it was a cross-kick from Francois Trinh-Duc that set-up the try as Byron McGuigan found himself faced with three Toulon players. The Welsh international could not add the touchline conversion from the left, and went on to miss a 44 metre penalty in the second half, but the three-time champions had got off to the kind of start new head coach Mike Ford had asked for following the poor opening in the Round 1 defeat at home against Saracens.

But Toulon were not able to build on their fast start and instead it was the courageous home side that came rushing back into the contest. No sooner had Toulon skipper Duane Vermeulen been sent to the sin-bin for a cynical trip in open play, than wing Paulo Odogwu ran in his first Champions Cup try to cut the gap to 10 points.

That is how it stayed up to the break and throughout the whole of the second half. As well as Halfpenny's long range miss, Will Addison was also off target for Sale with a kickable penalty.

The win for Toulon keeps them in the mix in Pool 3 with back-to-back games against the Scarlets to come in December. Two successive defeats for Sale will make it difficult for them to progress, especially with successive games against reigning champions Saracens to come.

SHARKS: Michael Haley, Byron McGuigan, Will Addison, Mark Jennings, Paulo Odogwu, Sam James, Peter Stringer, Ross Harrison, Neil Briggs, Brian Mujati, Bryn Evans, Andrei Ostrikov, Cameron Neild, Magnus Lund, JOSH BEAUMONT (C) BENCH: Eifion Lewis-Roberts, Halani Aulika, Jon Mills, David Seymour, Thomas Curry, James Mitchell, Daniel Mugford, Sam Bedlow

SCORERS  T: Odogwu Yellow Card Lund

TOULON: Leigh Halfpenny, James O'Connor, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana, Francois Trinh Duc, Eric Escande, Xavier Chiocci, Guilhem Guirado, Levan Chilachava, Mamuka Gorgodze, Romain Taofifenua, Charles Ollivon, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, DUANE VERMEULEN (C) BENCH: Anthony Etrillard, Laurent Delboulbès, Marcel Van Der Merwe, Samu Manoa, Matt Carraro, Pierre Bernard, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Jocelino Suta

SCORERS T: Ollivon, Halfpenny C: Halfpenny P: Halfpenny Yellow Card Vermeulen

Referee: Ben Whitehouse Asst Referees: Sean Brickell, Chris Williams TMO: Jonathan Mason

 

SaracensSARACENS 44 - 26 SCARLETSScarlets

Allianz Park - Saturday 22 October 2016
KO: 17:30 HT: 20-12 Att: 9,084

Saracens ScarletsSARACENS maintained their perfect start to the defence of their Champions Cup title with a powerful display against a determined Scarlets.

 

Mako Vunipola got the champions on track before Nick Tompkins, an 11th hour replacement for Brad Barritt, Marcelo Bosch, Chris Wyles secured the bonus point. Rhys Patchell kicked 16 points for Scarlets who briefly hinted at a comeback after Ben Spencer's yellow card with second half tries by Aaron Shingler and Jonathan Davies. But Michael Rhodes completed a dominant display from the Saracens pack to take charge of Pool 3.

Patchell drew first blood at Allianz Park with an early penalty but Mako Vunipola rumbled over for the opening try in the tenth minute. Schalk Burger was involved several times as Saracens' forwards drove forward, Alex Goode and Michael Rhodes put width on the attack where Vunipola charged a way through.

Scarlets, who lost Wales centre Scott Williams in the morning of the game with an ankle problem, then saw full-back Liam Williams limp off after just 14 minutes.

Saracens Nick Tompkins stepped up and scorched over for a try just 26 minutes into his European debut. The centre beat four defenders as he weaved his way between the posts. Farrell converted and added a drop goal but penalties allowed Patchell to limit the damage to 20-12 at half-time.

Both Vunipola brothers punched holes in the Welsh team's defence, before England fly-half Owen Farrell flung a loopy pass for Bosch to finish on the left wing. Wyles put the bonus point within touching distance, finishing from 30 metres with aplomb after a Scarlets handling error.

Shingler scored the visitors' first try of the night just past the hour mark as both sides pursued the extra points. Replacement eight Josh Macleod thundered off the base of the scrum to set up a second try for Scarlets, with Wales centre Davies powering over from close range.

But South African flanker Michael Rhodes swiftly struck back to secure the bonus point and extinguish any hopes the two tries had fanned of a Scarlets come back.

SARACENS: Alex Goode, Sean Maitland, Marcelo Bosch, Nick Tompkins, Chris Wyles, OWEN FARRELL (C), Richard Wigglesworth, Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, Juan Figallo, Maro Itoje, Jim Hamilton, Michael Rhodes, Schalk Burger, Billy Vunipola BENCH: Jamie George, Richard Barrington, Petrus du Plessis, Kelly Brown, Jackson Wray, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Michael Ellery

SCORERS T: Mako Vunipola, Tompkins, Bosch, Wyles, Rhodes C: Farrell (5) P: Farrell (3) Yellow Card Spencer

SCARLETS: Liam Williams, DTH van der Merwe, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Steff Evans, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies, Wyn Jones, KEN OWENS (C), Samson Lee, Jake Ball, David Bulbring, Aaron Shingler, Will Boyde, John Barclay BENCH: Ryan Elias, Luke Garrett, Werner Kruger, Lewis Rawlins, Joshua Macleod, Jonathan Evans, Dan Jones, Hadleigh Parkes

SCORERS T: Shingler, Jonathan Davies C: Patchell (2) P: Patchell (4)

Referee: Pascal Gaüzère Asst Referees: Maxime Chalon, Jean-Luc Rebollal TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

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POOL 4Champions Cup Round 2 Pool 4

Castres OlympiqueCASTRES 41 - 7 NORTHAMPTON SAINTSNorthampton Saints

Stade Pierre Antoine - Saturday 22 October 2016
KO: 16:15 HT: 20-0 Att: 8,405

Castres Northampton SaintsCASTRES OLYMPIQUE turned on the style to sweep aside Northampton Saints with a bonus-point win at Stade Pierre Antoine, maintaining home success with five tries as David Smith scored a brace, Antoine Tichit, Alexandre Bias and Antoine Dupont all crossed to inflict a record defeat on Saints.

 

Castres' pack issued an early statement of intent with a powerful scrum and Benjamin Urdapilleta, stepped on the line by a wonderful George North tackle, swept over two kicks.

Despite the return of England captain Dylan Hartley, it was a painful return back to earth for Saints; Louis Picamoles was denied a try on 19 minutes, but Castres lost key-man Rory Kockott to a yellow card soon after.

But Saints could not capitalise, and No8 Alex Tulou was the inspiration as the hosts burst clear to lead 20-0 at half-time. Tulou made a series of bursts before setting up winger Smith for his first on 30 minutes. Kockott returned from the sin bin and his burst up field, halted by Ben Foden, ended with prop Tichit crashing over.

Jim Mallinder's half-time team talk failed to halt the hosts as Robert Ebersohn's clever run drew in defenders and opened space for Smith to grab his second and Urdapilleta's conversion opened a 27-0 lead just three minutes into the second half.

Saints steadied the ship and finally registered on the scoreboard seven minutes from time through Wilson after Rory Hutchinson and Paul Hill combined. But Castres were desperate for the bonus and struck twice in the final six minutes as Smith turned provider for Bias before replacement scrum-half Dupont raced clear.

CASTRES: Geoffrey Palis, Horacio Agulla, Thomas Combezou, Robert Ebersohn, David Smith, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Rory Kockott, Antoine Tichit, Jody Jenneker, Daniel Kotze, Loic Jacquet, Victor Moreaux, Mathieu Babillot, Anthony Jelonch, ALEX TULOU (C) BENCH: Brice Mach, Mihaïta Lazar, Yohan Montes, Thibault Lassale, Alexandre Bias, Antoine Dupont, Julien Dumora, Florian Vialelle

SCORERS T: Smith (2), Tichit, Bias, Dupont C: Urdapilleta (3), Dumora (2) P: Urdapilleta (2) Yellow Card Kockott

SAINTS: Ben Foden, James Wilson, Rory Hutchinson, Harry Mallinder, George North, Steve Myler, Nic Groom, Alex Waller, Dylan Hartley, Kieran Brookes, Courtney Lawes, Michael Paterson, TOM WOOD (C), Teimana Harrison, Louis Picamoles BENCH: Mikey Haywood, Ethan Waller, Paul Hill, Api Ratuniyarawa, Jamie Gibson, Lee Dickson, Nafi Tuitavake, Ahsee Tuala

SCORERS T: Wilson C: Myler

Referee: Ian Davies Asst Referees: Simon Rees, Robert Price TMO: Gareth Simmonds

 

MontpellierMONTPELLIER 22 - 16 LEINSTER RUGBYLeinster Rugby

Altrad Stadium - Sunday 23 October 2016
KO: 14:00 HT: 14-3 Att: 10,679

Montpellier Leinster RugbyTHERE was no stopping Nemani Nadolo as he led Montpellier to a 22-16 European Rugby Champions Cup triumph over Leinster. The giant winger rumbled over for a first-half try before capitalising on an interception after Vincent Martin had gone over after half-an-hour. But Leinster grabbed a crucial losing bonus-point in the last play of the game when Isa Nacewa darted over and converted his own try.

 

Montpellier had most of the possession and territory in the first quarter but failed to turn pressure into points. Instead it was the Irish province who finally broke the deadlock after 26 minutes. Leinster rumbled a rolling maul into Montpellier territory before it was brought down illegally. Surprisingly, Isa Nacewa took the kick instead of Sexton, and made no mistake to make it 3-0.

But Montpellier hit-back four minutes later. Martin scooped up a loose ball 30 metres from the try-line and scorched past Jamie Heaslip and Mike Ross to score at the posts. Frans Steyn atoned for an early penalty miss to slot the conversion to put the hosts 7-3 in-front.

And it got even better for Jake White's men just before the break. Full-back Joffrey Michel drew his man to give Nadolo a one-on-one against Rob Kearney, and the Fijian giant ran over the Ireland full-back to score at the corner. Steyn landed the touchline conversion to make it 14-3 at half-time.

Steyn extended their advantage with a penalty, but Nacewa clawed three points back from the tee. But star of the show Nadolo bagged his second try of the game and Montpellier's third to put them beyond Leinster's reach. Leo Cullen's men had held firm to stop a driving maul and earn a turnover. But when Heaslip peeled off the back of the scrum and attempted a pass to Zane Kirchner, Nadolo was there to intercept and run-in unopposed.

Nacewa landed a third penalty to make it 22-9, and he was at it again when Jamison Gibson-Park found his skipper racing down the left wing to score. And he showed nerves of steel to land the crucial conversion to seal a losing bonus-point.

MONTPELLIER: Joffrey Michel, Marvin O'Connor, Vincent Martin, Alexandre Dumoulin, Nemani Nadolo, Frans Steyn, Nic White, Yvan Watremez, Shalva Mamukashvili, Jannie Du Plessis, Jacques du Plessis, Paul Willemse, Fulgence Ouedraogo, AKAPUSI QERA (C), Pierre Spies BENCH: Romain Ruffenach, Mikheil Nariashvili, Davit Kubriashvili, Nico Janse van Rensburg, Wiaan Liebenberg, Tomas O'Leary, Ben Botica, Jesse Mogg

SCORERS T: Martin, Nadolo (2) C: Steyn (2) P: Steyn

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney, Zane Kirchner, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, ISA NACEWA (C), Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath, Cian Healy, James Tracy, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mick Kearney, Sean O'Brien, Josh Van Der Flier, Jamie Heaslip BENCH: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Mick Kearney, Jordi Murphy, Daniel Leavy, Jamison Gibson-Park, Joey Carbery

SCORERS T: Nacewa C: Nacewa P: Nacewa (3) Yellow Card Kearney

Referee: Luke Pearce Asst Referees: Ian Tempest, Paul Burton TMO: Geoff Warren

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POOL 5Champions Cup Round 2 Pool 5

ASM Clermont AuvergneCLERMONT 49 - 33 BORDEAUX-BÈGLESBordeaux Bègles

Stade Marcel-Michelin - Saturday 22 October 2016
KO: 16:15 HT: 16-14 Att: 17,512

ASM Clermont Auvergne Bordeaux BeglesSTADE Marcel Michelin played host to an all-French thriller as ASM Clermont Auvergne claimed a 49-33 triumph over Bordeaux-Bègles.

 

The Stade Marcel Michelin was stunned into silence when Bordeaux took the lead after just four minutes. A free-flowing attack had the Clermont defence scrambling, and they cracked when the ball was worked wide to Jean-Marcel Buttin, who side-stepped past Morgan Parra to score from 20 metres out.

Ian Madigan landed the conversion before Parra kicked a penalty of his own three minutes later to cut the gap to 7-3. And Parra, who had only missed two kicks all season before this match, chipped away at the Bordeaux lead with another penalty after the visitors went off their feet at a ruck.

But Clermont's comeback was halted by some more clinical play from the Bègles' backline. Madigan received the ball and found Jayden Spence with a perfectly timed short-ball. The kiwi centre sliced through and crashed over to give Madigan a simple conversion.

Parra landed a penalty to bring Clermont back to within five points, before Bordeaux wing Kobus Van Wyk was sin-binned for a tip-tackle on the home scrum-half. And they were made to pay for their indiscipline when David Strettle's deflected hack forward found its way to Noa Nakaitaci, who picked up and dived over for his eighth try of the season. Parra maintained his 100 percent record from the tee in the Champions Cup to add the conversion and send his men into the changing rooms at half-time with a 16-14 lead.

The TOP 14 leaders took a firm grip on the game two minutes into the second-half. A half-break from Camille Lopez moved Clermont to within five metres of the try-line, before Nakaitaci's loose offload was collected by Alexander Lapandry, who stretch over to make it 21-14. And Wesley Fofana got in on the act when he fended off a pair of defenders to break on the outside to score the hosts' third try. Sébastien Vahaamahina was shunted over for the bonus-point score, before a late flurry of tries.

Buttin grabbed his second and setup a bonus-point try for Met Talebula after Strettle collected his own kick to score. And Sitaleki Timani put the gloss on the win with a try in the 75th minute before Gauthier Doubrère crashed over.

CLERMONT: Nick Abendanon, David Strettle, Remi Lamerat, Wesley Fofana, Noa Nakaitaci, Camille Lopez, MORGAN PARRA (C), Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Paul Jedrasiak, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Julien Bardy, Alexandre Lapandry, Camille Gerondeau BENCH: Nathan Charles, Etienne Falgoux, Clément Ric, Sitaleki Timani, Judicaël Cancoriet, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Pato Fernandez, Aurélien Rougerie

SCORERS  T: Nakaitaci, Lapandry, Fofana, Vahaamahina, Strettle, Timani C: Parra (4), Fernandez P: Parra (3)

BORDEAUX: Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Metuisela Talebulamaijaina, Jayden Spence, Joe Wakacegu, Kobus Van Wyk, Ian Madigan, Yann Lesgourgues, Sébastien Taofifenua, CLEMENT MAYNADIER (C), Marc Clerc, Tom Palmer, Cyril Cazeaux, Luke Braid, Hugh Chalmers, Marco Tauleigne BENCH: Benat Auzqui, Steven Kitshoff, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Ole Avei, Tristan Labouteley, Julien Audy, Lionel Beauxis, Jean-Baptiste Dubié

SCORERS T: Buttin (2), Spence, Talebula, Doubrere C: Madigan (2), Beauxis Yellow Card van Wyk, Palmer

Referee: Greg Garner Asst Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Paul Dix TMO: David Grashoff

 

Ulster RugbyULSTER RUGBY 19 - 18 EXETER CHIEFSExeter Chiefs

Kingspan Stadium - Saturday 22 October 2016
KO: 19:45 HT: 10-6 Att: 16,843

Ulster Rugby Exeter RugbyPADDY JACKSON'S late drop goal capped a thrilling finish as Ulster edged out Exeter Chiefs 19-18 in a tense clash at the Kingspan Stadium.

 

The two fly-halves, Jackson and Gareth Steenson traded penalties during the early going, with Steenson kicking two to Jackson's one to give the Chiefs a 6-3 lead. It was an advantage they held on to during an extended spell of Ulster pressure when a try had appeared certain to arrive. Time and again the Irish province set-up a purposeful driving maul close to the tryline, and time and again it was repelled. The Chiefs did have to infringe to keep their line intact, but were able to lift the siege by driving the Ulster pack into touch and clearing their lines. But there was nothing to do to stop Charles Piutau, who ended their European adventure last season, from creating the only try of the game.

The New Zealand international popped up in midfield to weave his way past three tacklers and race into the 22. The winger released the ball and flanker Reidy was on hand to scoop the ball up and beat Steenson's attempted tackle to dot down. Jackson added the conversion and slotted a penalty early in the second half to give the hosts a seven-point advantage.

But the Chiefs were not done and quickly responded with two Steenson penalties, the second of which came after a brilliant take and surge upfield from wing Olly Woodburn.

Jackson and Steenson again exchanged penalties, and the Exeter man looked to have won it with his drop goal, only for Jackson to hold his nerve and reply almost immediately.

Steenson had one last chance to win it, but his attempt at another drop goal just faded wide of the uprights as Ulster held on.

ULSTER: Jared Payne, ANDREW TRIMBLE (C), Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding, Charles Piutau, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Kyle McCall, Rory Best, Rodney Ah You, Pete Browne, Franco Van Der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson BENCH: Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Ross Kane, Alan O'Connor, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Craig Gilroy, Tommy Bowe

SCORERS T: Reidy C: Jackson P: Jackson (3) DG: Jackson | P: Steenson (5) DG: Steenson

CHIEFS: Lachlan Turner, Olly Woodburn, Ian Whitten, Henry Slade, James Short, GARETH STEENSON (C), Dave Lewis, Moray Low, Jack Yeandle, Harry Williams, Mitch Lees, Geoff Parling, Kai Horstmann, Julian Salvi, Tom Waldrom BENCH: Elvis Taione, Carl Rimmer, Tom Francis, Jonny Hill, Dave Dennis, Jack Maunder, Sam Hill, Ollie Devoto

SCORERS

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz Asst Referees: Thomas Charabas, Cedric Clave TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin

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EPCR Round 1

POOL 1Champions Cup Round 1 Pool 1

Glasgow WarriorsGLASGOW 42 - 13 LEICESTER TIGERS Leicester Tigers

Scotstoun Stadium - Friday 14 October 2016
KO: 19:45 HT: 22-13 Att: 7,351

Glasgow Warriors Leicester TigersGLASGOW WARRIORS have never broken out of their pool in the European Cup, but after piling on a record score against Leicester Tigers, they gave themselves the perfect start to their Pool 3 campaign, including two interception tries in the final quarter from Olympic sevens silver medallist Mark Bennett and Italian winger, Leonardo Sarto.

 

Tigers were on the scoreboard first thanks to the boot of Owen Williams, and the visitors also grabbed the game's first try when wing Adam Thompstone got wrapped up in a driving line-out moments after flanker Ryan Wilson had seen yellow. Williams nailed the conversion and the visitors looked well in control of their destiny.

Glasgow gave away penalties at a rate of knots, and were not able to make the most of Matt Toomua sent off for a tip-tackle on Finn Russell. But Sarto’s first try took the lead in the 23rd minute, swiftly followed by two more from Fraser Brown and Henry Pyrgos, Russell missing just one conversion. The home team were comfortably ahead 22-13 at the end of the first half.  

The second half saw the Warriors displaying set-piece dominance as they camped out close to the Tigers’ tryline, but only came away with two penalties from Russell. However, the visitors had stopped scoring points in the first half. And then the intercepts came in rapid succession, within ten minutes of each other as Leicester looked on in horror, and no doubt the air in the visiting coaches’ box had turned significantly bluer.

Sarto’s brace secured the bonus point, and earned him the Heineken Man of the Match accolade, leaving Leicester to ponder how to come back from a significant opening weekend loss before facing Racing 92 and Munster in trying to climb out from a difficult pool.

WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg, Leonardo Sarto, Alex Dunbar, Samuel Johnson, Rory Hughes, Finn Russell, HENRY PYRGOS (C), Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Robert Harley, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss BENCH: Pat MacArthur, Alex Allan, Sila Puafisi, Matt Fagerson, Lewis Wynne, Ali Price, Mark Bennett, Sean Lamont

SCORERS  T: Sarto (2), Brown, Pyrgos, Bennett C: Russell (4) P: Hogg, Russell (2) Yellow Card Wilson

TIGERS: Telusa Veainu, Adam Thompstone, Matthew Tait, Matt Toomua, Tom Brady, Owen Williams, Ben Youngs, Ellis Genge, TOM YOUNGS (C), Dan Cole, Dom Barrow, Graham Kitchener, Michael Fitzgerald, Brendon O'Connor, Lachlan McCaffrey BENCH: Harry Thacker, Logovi'i Mulipola, Greg Bateman, Ed Slater, William Evans, Sam Harrison, Freddie Burns, Peter Betham

SCORERS T: Thompstone C: Williams P: Williams (2) Yellow Card Toomua, Mulipola

Referee: Mathieu Raynal Asst Referees: Salam Attalah, Thomas Dejean TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

 

Racing 92RACING 92 P - P MUNSTER RUGBYMunster Rugby

Stade Yves-Du-Manoir - Sunday 16 October 2016

DUE to the sudden and untimely passing of Munster Rugby Head Coach Anthony Foley, this match has been postponed as a mark of respect for Mr Foley's family and friends, and will be rescheduled at a later date.

Munster Rugby thank Racing 92, EPCR, broadcasters and partners, and the many fans who travelled to Paris for their understanding and support at this time.


Anthony Foley 1973 2016 RIP


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POOL 2Champions Cup Round 1 Pool 2

WaspsWASPS 82 - 14 ZEBRE RUGBYZebre

Ricoh Arena - Saturday 15 October 2016
KO: 13:00 HT: 42-14 Att: 10,701

Wasps ZebreZEBRE put up a fight as best they could, Federico Ruzza charging in two tries for the Italian visitors. Wasps, however, gave them a twelve try-trouncing, with Danny Cipriani missing just one conversion for the 82-14 routing. But this was not unexpected; pitting the second best in England against a team who rarely wins a match was nothing to write home about. Best not to get too carried away…

 

The first half tries came in from Jake Cooper-Woolley, Joe Simpson, Frank Halai and Ashley Johnson, to add to the brace from Rob Miller. Cipriani sliced over half a dozen conversions to match. The bonus point was secured by the 26th minute. And the Italians did not help themselves with No8 Dries van Schalkwyk sitting out ten minutes in the bin for a dangerous tackle on captain Joe Launchbury. Half time and the score had already reached 42-14.

Wasps come out with the same intent after the break, and Elliot Daly scored in under a minute. Cipriani, however, missed the only conversion of the afternoon. Jimmy Gopperth replaced Kyle Eastmond, who surprisingly had not scored in the 45 minutes he was on the field, and took over the goal kicking, not missing a trick and ending the game with a perfect record. Meanwhile, Carlo Festuccia was pinged for not rolling away, and Joe Launchbury, Josh Bassett, James Gaskell and Dan Robson completed the crushing defeat, Simpson bagging his brace too.

WASPS: Rob Miller, Frank Halai, Elliot Daly, Kyle Eastmond, Josh Bassett, Danny Cipriani, Joe Simpson, Matt Mullan, Tom Cruse, Jake Cooper-Woolley, JOE LAUNCHBURY (C), James Gaskell, Ashley Johnson, Thomas Young, Nathan Hughes BENCH: Tommy Taylor, Tom Bristow, Phil Swainston, Matt Symons, Guy Thompson, Dan Robson, Jimmy Gopperth, Alapati Leiua

SCORERS T: Miller (2), Cooper-Woolley, Simpson (2), Halai, Johnson, Daly, Launchbury, Bassett, Gaskell, Robson C: Cipriani (6), Gopperth (5)

ZEBRE: Kayle Van Zyl, Gabriele Di Giulio, Tommaso Boni, Matteo Pratichetti, Giambattista Venditti, Edoardo Padovani, Guglielmo Palazzani, Bruno Postiglioni, Carlo Festuccia, Dario Chistolini, Josh Furno, GEORGE BIAGI (C), Jacopo Sarto, Derick Minnie, Dries van Schalkwyk BENCH: Tommaso D'Apice, Andrea de Marchi, Pietro Ceccarelli, Gideon Koegelenberg, Federico Ruzza, Marcello Violi, Tommy Castello, Carlo Canna

SCORERS T: Ruzza (2) C: Padovani (2) Yellow Card van Schalkwyk, Festuccia

Referee: Andrew Brace Asst Referees: Eddie Hogan O'Connell, Jonathan Peak TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon

 

Connacht RugbyCONNACHT RUGBY 23 - 21 TOULOUSEToulouse

The Sportsground - Saturday 15 October 2016
KO: 17:35 HT: 11-21 Att: 8,091

Connacht Rugby Stade ToulousainCONNACHT spent 66 minutes playing catch up to the four-time European champions, Toulouse, and it was the boot of centre Craig Ronaldson that was the difference between the two sides, knocking over the conversion to give the Irishmen a much-needed win in a difficult pool.

 

Playing in the top tier of European rugby for the first time by winning the Guinness PRO12 last season, it was not the best start for Connacht. Stade Toulousain took full advantage of three penalties from the homeside, Sébastien Bézy popping over the first two, and Florian Fritz the third from long range to take a 9-0 lead heading into the second quarter. Niyi Adeolokun found a way over in the corner, and though Jack Carty missed the conversion, he quickly added two penalties of his own to take the lead with half an hour gone. But successive efforts from Yann David and Jean-Marc Doussain, the latter converted by Bézy, put the visitors firmly back in front for a 21-11 lead at halftime.

Both sides had a rotten time at the tee, Carty leaving five points out there in the second half, and Bézy fluffing a penalty could have been all the difference. But heading to the final quarter, Connacht remembered possession and territory is key, so they secured and it paid off; Tiernan O'Halloran crossed in the 57th minute, and barely ten minutes later, Bundee Aki charged over in the corner to equalise, coming back from a ten point deficit. Ronaldson stepped up for the biggest kick of his career for Connacht so far, and shattered the Toulouse confidence so much that they had no fuel left in the tank.

Neither team could find a point in the remaining twelve minutes, and Connacht made a stonking debut to their Champions Cup campaign.

CONNACHT: Tiernan O'Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Cian Kelleher, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, Finlay Bealham, David Heffernan, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Andrew Browne, Eoin McKeon, Jake Heenan, JOHN MULDOON (C) BENCH: Shane Delahunt, Ronan Loughney, JP Cooney, Ultan Dillane, Sean O'Brien, Kieran Marmion, Shane O'Leary, Stacey Ili

SCORERS T: Adeolokun, O'Halloran, Aki C: Ronaldson P: Carty (2)

TOULOUSE: Maxime Médard, Yoann Huget, FLORIAN FRITZ (C), Yann David, Paul Perez, Jean-Marc Doussain, Sébastien Bézy, Cyril Baille, Christopher Tolofua, Census Johnston, Richie Gray, Joe Tekori, Francois Cros, Piula Fa'asalele, Carl Axtens BENCH: Julien Marchand, Vasil Kakovin, Dorian Aldegheri, Edwin Maka, Gregory Lamboley, Talalelei Gray, Toby Flood, Gael Fickou

SCORERS T: David, Doussain C: Bézy P: Bézy (2), Fritz

Referee: Luke Pearce Asst Referees: Matthew O'Grady, Jonathan Healy TMO: Stuart Terheege

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POOL 3Champions Cup Round 1 Pool 3

ToulonRC TOULON 21 - 31 SARACENSSaracens

Stade Félix Mayol - Saturday 15 October 2016
KO: 16:15 HT: 6-25 Att: 14,103

RC Toulon Saracens

THREE times European Champions Cup winners RC Toulon were defending their unbeaten home record. Last season’s double trophy winners Saracens had a point to prove in their first European rugby outing since beating Racing 92 in the final just five months ago to the day. It was Saracens that broke the record, magnificently putting Toulon to the sword, playing arguably one their best rugby in European, and this was just round one.

 

Owen Farrell made the much awaited return to the competitive field, his first appearance since England’s record-breaking tour down under, and with such flair he began, opening the account for the visitors in the third minute. Toulon’s Leigh Halfpenny replied promptly to equalise, himself not long back since his long term knee injury. But the next 35 minutes belonged to Saracens, with another Farrell penalty and two of three conversions from excellent tries from Sean Maitland in the corner, swiftly followed by Richard Wigglesworth who ran in under the posts after Jamie George ripped open the defence before offloading. The third came just before the break from Chris Wyles after Mako Vunipola's cute offload allowed Farrell and Marcelo Bosch to make yards, with Wyles finishing  the flowing attack on the left. Saracens looked like the champions they are, notching up a solid 25-6 lead by halftime, Halfpenny adding a three-pointer at the half hour mark following Maro Itoje pinged for an unnecessary high tackle. Both sides went in short three points with a missed drop goal from Francois Trinh-Duc and missed penalty from Bosch.

Halfpenny landed the first penalty of the second half, but Farrell was right behind him after Ma’a Nonu was sent off for a stupid tip tackle on Sarries captain, Brad Barritt. Saracens could not make hay while a man up, and Itoje was also shown yellow for infringing; immediately Levan Chilachava hit back with Toulon’s first try. The homeside back up to a full complement and with a one man advantage still, Bryan Habana sprung into springbok-like action to score, and Halfpenny converted both tries, bringing the score back to a more manageable 23-28, fifteen minutes remaining on the clock.

With nine minutes to go, Saracens were forced to dig even deeper after Schalk Burger was also binned, but the team were outstanding in slowing the pace. Despite the huge pressure from Toulon, Maitland almost secured the bonus point with a try in the corner, but Barritt’s kick was slightly awry for the ball to hit the corner flag so could not be grounded. But a final penalty and Farrell’s kick put enough space between the scores that Toulon were denied a losing bonus point.

 

TOULON: Leigh Halfpenny, Josua Tuisova, Matt Carraro, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana, Francois Trinh Duc, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Florian Fresia, Guilhem Guirado, Levan Chilachava, Samu Manoa, Mamuka Gorgodze, Charles Ollivon, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, DUANE VERMEULEN (C) BENCH: Jean-Charles Orioli, Xavier Chiocci, Manasa Saulo, Liam Gill, Mathieu Bastareaud, Pierre Bernard, Eric Escande, Romain Taofifenua

SCORERS T: Chilachava, Habana C: Halfpenny (2) P: Halfpenny (2) Yellow Card Nonu

SARACENS: Alex Goode, Sean Maitland, Marcelo Bosch, BRAD BARRITT (C), Chris Wyles, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Juan Figallo, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Jackson Wray, Schalk Burger, Billy Vunipola BENCH: Schalk Brits, Richard Barrington, Petrus du Plessis, Jim Hamilton, Michael Rhodes, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Michael Ellery

SCORERS T: Maitland, Wigglesworth, Wyles C: Farrell (2) P: Farrell (4) Yellow Card Itoje, Burger

Referee: John Lacey Asst Referees: Mark Patton, Paul Haycock TMO: Simon McDowell

 

ScarletsSCARLETS 28 - 11 SALE SHARKS Sale Sharks

Parc y Scarlets - Saturday 15 October 2016
KO: 19:45 HT: 21-11 Att: 6,521

 

TWO tries from DTH van der Merwe helped the Scarlets kick off their campaign with a comfortable 28-11 victory over Sale Sharks. In a huge turnaround from last season where the Welsh region lost all six pool games, this was their first win in nine European outings, Canadian international van der Merwe leading the way with his brace, scrum-half Gareth Davies also dotting down and Rhys Patchell kicking 13 points.

Scarlets Sale SharksSharks’ Dan Mugford kicked the visitors into an early lead, but Patchell levelled matters in the ninth minute before the first Scarlets try arrived four minutes later. The Sale number 10 took too long to get his kick away, long enough for Davies to pounce to charge down and regather to score, with Patchell converting. Sale's struggles continued as a lost line-out and a ruck infringement gave Patchell two more sights of goal, both of which he put straight between the uprights to make it 16-3, and the second quarter had barely begun.

Neil Briggs landed Sale's only try soon after, but Mugford missed the conversion. Still two scores ahead, van der Merwe pirouetted through a tackle to go over in the corner. Mugford’s final points came through penalty, taking the teams into the break with the homeside 21-11 to the better.

The Sharks spent half of the last 40 minutes a man down when Ross Harrison was marched to the bin for a high tackle on Ken Owens, and on his return, Andrei Ostrikov was summarily dismissed as well. In between the two binnings, van der Merwe finished off Patchell’s long pass and dove over in the corner to seal the win.

SCARLETS: Liam Williams, DTH van der Merwe, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Steff Evans, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies, Wyn Jones, KEN OWENS (C), Samson Lee, Jake Ball, David Bulbring, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay BENCH: Ryan Elias, Luke Garrett, Werner Kruger, Lewis Rawlins, Will Boyde, Jonathan Evans, Dan Jones, Hadleigh Parkes

SCORERS T: Gareth Davies, van der Merwe (2) C: Patchell (2) P: Patchell (2)

SHARKS: Michael Haley, Byron McGuigan, Will Addison, Sam James, Paulo Odogwu, Daniel Mugford, Mike Phillips, Ross Harrison, Neil Briggs, Brian Mujati, Bryn Evans, Jon Mills, Cameron Neild, David Seymour, JOSH BEAUMONT (C) BENCH: James Flynn, Halani Aulika, Andrei Ostrikov, Magnus Lund, Thomas Curry, James Mitchell, Sam Bedlow, Neville Edwards

SCORERS T: Briggs P: Mugford (2) Yellow Card Harrison, Ostrikov

Referee: Romain Poite Asst Referees: Pierre Brousset, Mathieu Noirot TMO: Eric Gauzins

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POOL 4Champions Cup Round 1 Pool 4

Leinster RugbyLEINSTER 33 - 15 CASTRES OLYMPIQUECastres Olympique

RDS Arena - Saturday 15 October 2016
KO: 15:15 HT: 19-10 Att: 13,890

 

SEAN CRONIN'S two first-half tries put Leinster on course for a handsome opening victory. The Ireland hooker twice finished devastating lineout drives from the Leinster pack to put the hosts in charge at the RDS Showground. But the biggest cheer was for his front-row partner Jack McGrath, who celebrated his 100th appearance for the province with a try. A penalty try for Castres just before half-time threatened to disrupt Leinster's dominance but man of the match, Isa Nacewa's solo-try early in the second half ensured maximum points for the former European champions.

Castres had not tasted success in this competition since 2013, losing their last seven on the road, and facing an uphill task early on in Dublin. Nacewa missed his first effort at goal after a high tackle on Cronin. But the hooker dusted himself off to finish a drive set-up by the towering Devon Toner after just eight minutes. All eyes were on Jonathan Sexton's young deputy, Joey Carvery, and the fly-half almost snatched an interception with an acrobatic effort. Gary Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw went close but Castres defended valiantly while No8 Alex Tulou, the top ball-carrier in the Top 14, proved a threat. Cronin then peeled off another drive on 26 minutes, stepping past one defender and spinning out a challenge for his second try.

Rob Kearney's high tackle on livewire scrum-half Antoine Dupont enabled Benjamin Urdapilleta to claw back three points. Prop McGrath had his special moment on 32 minutes when he picked up and crashed over after Luke McGrath was stopped short. The scrum-half was then frustrated at the other try line when he was shown a yellow card and conceded a penalty try after diving in as the Castres pack rumbled over. Urdapilleta's conversion narrowed the gap to 19-10 on the stroke of half-time.

Yet with just 14 men, Leinster and in particular Nacewa, showed their class as the full-back picked up and brushed off two tackles as he galloped over for the bonus-point score that he converted himself. Castres then lost Thibault Lassale to the sin bin and Leinster's scrum, now bolstered by a fresh Mike Ross, capitalised, turning the screw until referee Matthew Carley awarded another penalty try. The 14 men of Castres managed a response as 20-year-old rookie Anthony Jelonch dived over, but Leinster were not to be denied.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney, Zane Kirchner, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, ISA NACEWA (C), Joey Carbery, Luke McGrath, Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Ian Nagle, Rhys Ruddock, Josh Van Der Flier, Jamie Heaslip BENCH: James Tracy, Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Ross Molony, Daniel Leavy, Jamison Gibson-Park, Cathal Marsh, Noel Reid

SCORERS T: Cronin (2), Jack McGrath, Nacewa, PT C: Nacewa (4) Yellow Card Luke McGrath

CASTRES: Geoffrey Palis, Remi Grosso, Thomas Combezou, Robert Ebersohn, David Smith, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Antoine Dupont, Antoine Tichit, Jody Jenneker, Daniel Kotze, Victor Moreaux, RODRIGO CAPO ORTEGA (C), Mathieu Babillot, Steve Mafi, Alex Tulou BENCH: Brice Mach, Mihaïta Lazar, Damien Tussac, Thibault Lassale, Anthony Jelonch, Rory Kockott, Maxime Javaux, Florian Vialelle

SCORERS T: PT, Jelonch C: Urdapilleta P: Urdapilleta Yellow Card Lassale

Referee: Matt Carley Asst Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Steve Lee TMO: David Sainsbury

 

Northampton SaintsNORTHAMPTON SAINTS 16 - 14 MONTPELLIERMontpellier

Franklin's Gardens - Saturday 15 October 2016
KO: 17:30 HT: 10-8 Att: 14,099

Northampton Saints Montpellier

MONTPELLIER were ahead in the game by a single point for just fifteen minutes, the most crucial up to the 80th minute, but Northampton Saints’ Stephen Myler struck an injury time penalty to seal a dramatic 16-14 triumph over Montpellier.

 

Jim Mallinder's men sent a statement of intent after just four minutes at Franklin's Gardens. George North cleared up a loose lineout and powered into the heart of the Montpellier defence. Harry Mallinder then made a half break to release former Montpellier star Louis Picamoles, who disguised a deft pass back to Clark for him to crash over. Myler converted at the second time of asking after Frans Steyn charged early, shouting, and referee Nigel Owens was having none of it. The fly half then slotted a long-range penalty to put the Saints 10 points ahead. But the Montpellier juggernaut gathered speed and they got their first points thanks to a Ben Botica penalty after some heavy pressure. And Jake White's men got right back into it four minutes before half-time. Steyn slung a long pass out-wide to Nemani Nadolo, who slipped a deft offload out the back of his hand to Joffrey Michel. The replacement full-back charged down the wing and fed Steyn - and the Springbok did enough to reach over the line to cut the gap to 10-8 at half-time.

The contest descended into an arm wrestle after the break. Myler landed a penalty but that was cancelled out by Steyn as the clock ticked past the hour mark. But the French side finally hit the front with 13 minutes remaining after Northampton failed to roll away at a ruck. North had a late chance to win it for Mallinder's men, but he was beaten by the bounce after chipping over the French defence. But Myler stepped up to clinch it at the death after Montpellier left their hands in a ruck. But cometh the hour, cometh the man, and it was Myler who had the last laugh as he showed nerves of steel to convert a penalty from 35 metres at the death.

SAINTS: Ben Foden, Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Harry Mallinder, George North, Steve Myler, Nic Groom, Alex Waller, Mikey Haywood, Kieran Brookes, Courtney Lawes, Michael Paterson, TOM WOOD (C), Calum Clark, Louis Picamoles BENCH: Charlie Clare, Ethan Waller, Paul Hill, Sam Dickinson, Teimana Harrison, Lee Dickson, Rory Hutchinson, James Wilson

SCORERS T: Clark C: Myler P: Myler (3)

MONTPELLIER: BENJAMIN FALL (C), Marvin O'Connor, Alexandre Dumoulin, Frans Steyn, Nemani Nadolo, Ben Botica, Nic White, Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Davit Kubriashvili, Konstantine Mikautadze, Paul Willemse, Jacques Du Plessis, Antoine Battut, Pierre Spies BENCH: Romain Ruffenach, Yvan Watremez, Jannie Du Plessis, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Akapusi Qera, Cameron Wright, Vincent Martin, Joffrey Michel

SCORERS T: Steyn P: Botica, Steyn (2)

Referee: Nigel Owens Asst Referees: Gwyn Morris, Rhys Thomas TMO: Tim Hayes

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POOL 5Champions Cup Round 1 Pool 5

Bordeaux BèglesBORDEAUX-BÈGLES 28 - 13 ULSTER RUGBYUlster Rugby

Stade Chaban-Delmas - Sunday 16 October 2016
KO: 14:00 HT: 3-10 Att: 21,132

Bordeaux Begles Ulster Rugby

BORDEAUX-BÈGLES left it late to breakdown a brave Ulster defence and claim a 28-13 win, after the visitors led for 50 minutes.

 

Ian Madigan capitalised on some early dominance to kick Bordeaux into a 3-0 lead after just two minutes. But the scare sparked Les Kiss's side into life and Ulster battled their way downfield, making the most of their first foray into enemy territory where Andrew Trimble ran a devastating angle to cut-through and score. Paddy Jackson converted, and then added a penalty to give the Irish province a 10-3 lead into the break, though Ulster fluffed two try-scoring opportunities with knock ons.

Eventually the scoreboard began to tick over with penalties from Madigan then Lionel Beauxis for Bordeaux, and another from Jackson which dragged the tally to 13-9 in favour of the visitors. Not until the 74th minute did Sébastien Taofifenua barge over at the corner, before a searing break from Metuisela Talebulamaijaina earned a penalty try three minutes later after Sean Reidy was summarily binned for tackling early and preventing the score. And Bordeaux were not yet done as Blair Connor broke free from turnover ball to put the gloss on the hard-fought victory in the 80th minute, Beauxis converting twice.

BORDEAUX: Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Jean-Baptiste Dubié, Romain Lonca, Blair Connor, Ian Madigan, Yann Lesgourgues, Jefferson Poirot, Clement Maynadier, Vadim Cobilas, JANDRÉ MARAIS (C), Cyril Cazeaux, Luke Jones, Hugh Chalmers, Loann Goujon BENCH: Ole Avei, Sébastien Taofifenua, Marc Clerc, Tom Palmer, Marco Tauleigne, Baptiste Serin, Lionel Beauxis, Metuisela Talebulamaijaina

SCORERS T: Taofifenua, PT, Connor C: Beauxis (2) P: Madigan (2), Beauxis

ULSTER: Jared Payne, ANDREW TRIMBLE (C), Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Andy Warwick, Rory Best, Rodney Ah You, Alan O'Connor, Franco Van Der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy BENCH: Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Pete Browne, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Jacob Stockdale, Rob Lyttle

SCORERS T: Trimble C: Jackson P: Jackson (2) Yellow Card Reidy

Referee: JP Doyle Asst Referees: John Meredith, Peter Allan TMO: Graham Hughes

 

Exeter ChiefsEXETER CHIEFS 8 - 35 CLERMONT AUVERGNEASM Clermont Auvergne

Sandy Park Stadium - Sunday 16 October 2016
KO: 17:30 HT: 3-21 Att: 9,879

Exeter Chiefs ASM Clermont Auvergne

TOP 14 leaders ASM Clermont Auvergne served up a devastating performance to avenge their Sandy Park defeat in last season's Champions Cup. The Exeter Chiefs had not only beaten the two-time finalists 31-14 at home last year, but also pipped them to the quarter-final spot from their pool.

 

The Chiefs were first on the board in the seventh minute, but that would be the last change to the score on their side of the board until the 79th minute, while Clermont racked up six tries in between time, and bagged the bonus point with 38 minutes to spare. Back row man Julien Bardy scored the first try after 25 minutes as he picked up an inside pass from wing Noa Nakaitaci off his boot laces to score in the left corner; Morgan Parra added a magnificent touchline conversion. Nakaitaci was next to score as he profited from a break into the home 22 by Camille Lopez, and Wesley Fofana grabbed the third try two minutes before the break. Parra converted both tries and Clermont led 21-3 at half-time.

The second half saw former England full back Nick Abendanon bring up the bonus point for the visitors with a thrilling try at the posts after some sublime offloading. Parra added the simple conversion and despite Flip van der Merwe visiting the naughty step for ten minutes, the strength of the French team's defence kept on squeezing mistakes out of the Chiefs to frustrate them. The result was Fofana was able to slice through the midfield to cross for a brace at the posts following a scrum V, and Pato Fernandez' conversion made in 35-3. The Chiefs were down, but not quite out.

To their credit, Exeter kept on playing and were rewarded with an 80th minute try from Sam Hill. The conversion attempt from Henry Slade summed up the home performance as it headed off somewhere towards the far corner flag.

CHIEFS: Lachlan Turner, Olly Woodburn, Ollie Devoto, Sam Hill, Ian Whitten, GARETH STEENSON (C), Dave Lewis, Moray Low, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams, Geoff Parling, Damian Welch, Kai Horstmann, Julian Salvi, Tom Waldrom BENCH: Jack Yeandle, Carl Rimmer, Greg Holmes, Mitch Lees, Dave Dennis, Jack Maunder, Henry Slade, Max Bodilly

SCORERS T: Hill P: Steenson

CLERMONT: Nick Abendanon, David Strettle, Remi Lamerat, Wesley Fofana, Noa Nakaitaci, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra, Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Flip Van Der Merwe, Sébastien Vahaamahina, DAMIEN CHOULY (C), Julien Bardy, Fritz Lee BENCH: Nathan Charles, Etienne Falgoux, Clément Ric, Paul Jedrasiak, Alexandre Lapandry, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Pato Fernandez, Aurélien Rougerie

SCORERS T: Bardy, Nakaitaci, Fofana (2), Abendanon C: Parra (4), Fernandez Yellow Card van der Merwe

Referee: George Clancy Asst Referees: Leo Colgan, John Carvill TMO: Brian MacNeice

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Pools


POOL 1

Glasgow Warriors
Leicester Tigers
Munster Rugby
Racing 92

POOL 2

Connacht Rugby
Toulouse
Wasps
Zebre

POOL 3

Toulon
Sale Sharks
Saracens
Scarlets

POOL 4

Castres Olympique
Leinster Rugby
Montpellier
Northampton Saints

POOL 5

ASM Clermont Auvergne
Bordeaux Bègles
Exeter Chiefs
Ulster Rugby

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Launch

PREMIERSHIP LAUNCH - LONDON

PRO12 LAUNCH - DUBLIN

TOP 14 LAUNCH - PARIS

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Schedule

POOL STAGE DATES
Round 1: 13/14/15/16 October
Round 2: 20/21/22/23 October
Round 3: 8/9/10/11 December
Round 4: 15/16/17/18 December
Round 5: 12/13/14/15 January 2017
Round 6: 19/20/21/22 January 2017

QUARTER-FINALS
30/31 March - 1/2 April 2017

SEMI-FINALS
21/22/23 April 2017

CHAMPIONS CUP FINAL
Saturday 13 May 2017 - BT Murrayfield Stadium

European Rugby Finals Edinburgh 2017

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