BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE 19-21 TOULOUSE
STADE DE FRANCE – Saturday 22nd May 2010
TOULOUSE survived a late Biarritz Olympique fight-back to win a tense all-French Heineken Cup final 21-19, securing their record fourth European title.
Trailing 21-12, beaten 2006 finalists Biarritz fashioned the only try of the game with seven minutes left when Karmichael Hunt dashed over but Toulouse, playing in their sixth final, held on to add to the titles they won in 1996, 2003 and 2005.
Fly-half David Skrela and centre Florian Fritz kicked all Toulouse's points, including three drop-goals between them.
Toulouse dominated the scrummaging battle throughout and with a steady supply of set-piece ball they looked to go wide at every opportunity but Biarritz were stubborn in defence and clever at the breakdown and the reliable boot of Dimitri Yachvili gave them an early 6-0 lead and kept them in touch right through a fierce battle kept them in touch as their main weapon.
Biarritz opened the scoring thanks to Yachvili, who kicked the first of his four penalties, but Toulouse came closest to scoring a try when wing Maxime Medard was pulled down by Biarritz full-back Iain Balshaw.
Two more Yashvili penalties and one apiece from Skrela and Fritz saw Biarritz nursing a narrow 9-6 lead at the half-hour mark, but Toulouse got their noses 12-9 in front at the break thanks to a Fritz drop-goal.
After the break, Toulouse looked set to take full command and they would have taken the game completely away from Biarritz had Medard not dropped a scoring pass after great work from Fritz, Shaun Sowerby and Thierry Dusautoir.
Biarritz almost punished that when hooker Benoit August pinched the ball at a line-out and chipped on only to be taken down off the ball by Patricio Albacete, who was sin-binn3ed for the offence with Yashvili making the most of the penalty to level it up at 12-12.
Biarritz, however, were unable to make the extra man count and Toulouse moved into a 21-12 lead with Skrela made the most of their territorial advantage with a brace of drop-goals and his third penalty.
But the Basque side, inspired by number eight Imanol Harinordoquy, threw everything they had at Toulouse in the last 10 minutes and an inside pass from American wing Takudzwa Ngwenya put Hunt over the Toulouse line with replacement scrum-half Valentin Courrent converting to cut Toulouse’s lead to just two points.
That made for a tense finale but Toulouse held on to celebrate a record-breaking victory.
P: Yashvili 4
KNOCK OUT ROUNDS
TOULOUSE 26-16 LEINSTER
LE STADIUM – Saturday 1st May 2010
TOULOUSE moved to within 80 minutes of a record fourth Heineken Cup triumph with a comprehensive 26-16 semi-final win over defending European champions Leinster in Le Stadium.
The French giants outscored Leinster two tries to one with veteran centre Yannick Jauzion crashing over for the opener in the 55th minute to put the French giants on course for next month's final in Paris.
And fly-half David Skrela added a second touchdown on the hour mark on his way to a 21-point tally and the man-of-the-match award.
Leinster number eight Jamie Heaslip hit back with a 65th minute try for the defending champions but it proved to be too little, too late for Michael Cheika's men.
Toulouse flew out of the traps and took an early 6-0 lead courtesy of Skrela's boot but it was a tense opening quarter at the Stade Municipal.
But Leinster grew in confidence and could have scored when scrum-half Eoin Reddan darted for the line only to be denied by the combination of Clerc, Byron Kelleher and the rain-soaked conditions with the line at his mercy.
Skrela hammered home a third penalty as Leinster could not cope with the power of the Toulouse scrum, forcing head coach Cheika to bring CJ Van Der Linde into the action for the struggling Cian Healy.
Shaun Berne finally got Leinster on the scoreboard when the fly-half slotted home a long-range penalty.
Skrela missed a kick for goal from distance and Berne made his opposite number pay with another mammoth three-pointer on the stroke of half-time.
Maxime Medard was introduced for Toulouse at the break and the wing nearly scored with his first touch but he ran out of ground.
Then Kearney fired Leinster level in the 44th minute with a penalty from a yard inside his own half.
But Jauzion made the crucial breakthrough for Guy Noves' men and Leinster had to settle for Heaslip’s consolation score, eventually running out of ideas about how to break down a solid Toulouse defence.
BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE 18-7 MUNSTER
ESTADIO ANOETA – Sunday 2nd May 2010
BIARRITZ booked their place in the third all-French final in the Heineken Cup’s 15-year history with an 18-7 win over Munster in San Sebastian, where scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili was the toast of the Basque country.
Yachvili kicked all of Biarritz’ points, notching six penalties to break through the 500-point barrier in the competition to set up a clash with Toulouse in the Stade de France.
Slippery underfoot conditions led to a number of errors early on and the best early scoring chances fell to Munster with Paul Warwick missing a drop-goal attempt in the tenth minute and Ronan O’Gara dropping a scoring pass from hooker Jerry Flannery nine minutes later after the Irish side created an overlap.
But hey made no mistake in the 28th minute, taking a 7-0 lead when Springbok centre Jean de Villiers stripped the ball away from Ayoola Erinle in the tackle and number eight released Keith Earls for a try under the posts which O’Gara converted.
Biarritz hooker Benoit August was deemed to have a foot in touch when he crossed the Munster line as the French side began to put pressure on the visitors’ scrum, pressure which forced a penalty to allow Yachvili to cut Munster’s lead to 7-3 at half-time.
Early in the second half, Yachvili reduced Munster’s lead again with his second penalty and after O’Gara missed Yachvili kicked Biarritz 9-7 in front.
He got another chance to show off his goal kicking skills moved to within a point of becoming only the sixth player in Heineken Cup history to score 500 points in the 70th minute when Munster wing Denis Hurley was penalised for deliberately knocking the ball into touch.
Needing a try to regain the lead, Munster threw everything they had into trying to find a way through the thus far watertight Biarritz defence.
In the end, though, two more Yachvili penalties sealed their fate.
LEINSTER 29-28 ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE
ROYAL DUBLIN SHOWGROUND – Friday 9th April 2010
REIGNING European champions Leinster took a big step towards retaining the Heineken Cup in Dublin, where they came from behind to beat fancied French heavyweights ASM Clermont Auvergne 29-28 in a nail-biting quarter-final clash.
Clermont would have won the game had outside-half Brock James, the Top-14’s top goal-kicker, not missed five penalties and been off-target with three drop-goal attempts, while his half-back partner, French international scrum-half, Morgan Parra also missed with a kick at goal.
The French side did outscore Leinster three tries to two with Grand Slam winger Julien Malzieu bagging a hat-trick to outscore outstanding Leinster number eight Jamie Heaslip’s two, but thanks to James profligacy the boot of Ireland Jonny Sexton won the game for the home side as he hit the mark with seven from eight.
Clermont went off at a brisk pace and Malzieu rewarded their early pressure with the first try of the contest and when James added the conversion and clipped over a penalty, they had built an ominous 10-0 lead inside 16 minutes.
Sexton then got Leinster on the board with a penalty and when Brian O’Driscoll sent Heaslip charging over for the home side’s first try it was all-square at 10-10 and by half-time Heaslip’s second try, two conversions and two more Sexton penalties had eased Leinster into a 23-10 lead.
Clermont started the second half with a bang and Parra and James set Malzieu up for his second try, cutting the home side’ lead and two James penalties then reduced the deficit even further before Malzieu completed his hat-trick with James converting to give Clermont the lead.
Leinster responded with a Sexton penalty to cut Clermont’s lead to just two points and he bisected the posts again to give Leinster a one-point lead when French full-back Anthony Floch was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
Even at the death, James had two golden opportunities to win the game but he fired two drop-goal shots wide and that left Leinster and their fans to celebrate after clinching a tough semi-final trip to Toulouse.
T: Heaslip 2
C: Sexton 2
P: Sexton 5
BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE 29-28 OSPREYS
ESTADIO ANOETA, SAN SEBASTIAN – Saturday 10th April 2010
BIARRITZ booked a home semi-final date with Munster in San Sebastian but the Basque side was stretched to the limit by the battling Ospreys, who outscored their hosts three tries to two in the Estadio Anoeta, before they could celebrate a 29-28 quarter-final win.
Indeed, the home side needed an incredible 80-metre try from wing Takudzwa Ngwenya and three drop-goals from veteran centre Damien Traille to break Welsh hearts in northern Spain after skipper Ryan Jones, Lee Byrne and Nikki Walker touched down for the Ospreys.
Traille took just 29 seconds to clock up his first drop-goal and when Ngwenya picked up the ball inside his own 22 and beat off the tackles of Mike Phillips and Williams for a superb 80-metre touchdown with Dimitri Yachvili converting, the Ospreys must have feared a hiding.
The home side moved further ahead with a long-range Yachvili penalty and Traille’s second drop goal which gave them a 19-0 lead inside the first half-hour, but the Ospreys responded when Marty Holah sent Byrne over for their first try with Dan Biggar, who missed the conversion, clipping over a drop-goal adding the conversion just before the break.
Biggar fired the Ospreys into the lead for the first time just after the break but Biarritz hit back when Iain Balshaw pounced on Ngwenya‘s punt ahead and fended off Bishop to touch down with Yachvili converting .
Traille sealed his drop-goal hat-trick after Biggar clipped over a penalty to make it 29-21 to Biarritz going into the final quarter and the Ospreys set up a grandstand finish when scrum-half Mike Phillips sent Walker bustling over under the posts.
Biggar converted to cut the home side’s lead a solitary point but Biarritz shut up shop and their superior composure saw them lever the stubborn Ospreys out of the competition after a battle royal in the Spanish sun.
T: Balshaw, Ngwenya
C: Yashvili 2
P: Yachvili 2
DG: Traille 3
MUNSTER 33-19 NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
THOMOND PARK – Saturday 10th April 2010
MUNSTER had two Doug Howlett tries to thank for a 33-19 Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Northampton Saints at Thomond Park which ended English representation in the competition and booked the Irish heavyweights a semi-final date with Biarritz in San Sebastian.
It was the third time the two sides had clashed in Europe this season and Munster got off to a whirlwind start with a Ronan O’Gara penalty on the board inside the first minute and when full-back Paul Warwick ghosted over for an unconverted try Saints had a mountain to climb with just four minutes gone.
Two successful penalties from Stephen Myler, picked ahead of Shane Geraghty at fly-half, eased Northampton back into the contest, but Munster responded when Howlett brushed aside fellow former All Black Bruce Reihana to score in the corner to stretch the home side into a seven-point lead.
By the interval, though, the stubborn Saints were in 16-13 front, thanks to another penalty and a great try from centre Jon Clarke, set up by great work from Ireland flanker Neil Best and converted by Myler.
Munster came roaring back after the break when scrum-half Tomas O’Leary picked out Jean de Villiers for a try converted by O’Gara but Myler again hit the target with a penalty to keep Munster’s lead to a solitary point .
Two O’Gara penalties then gave the home side some valuable breathing space going into the last five minutes, which saw Howlett capitalise on good work from O’Leary and Warwick to notch his second and match-clinching touchdown with O’Gara’s conversion putting the icing on the Munster cake.
TOULOUSE 42-16 STADE FRANÇAIS
LE STADIUM – Sunday 11th April 2010
TOULOUSE sent out a chilling warning to Heineken Cup semi-final opponents Leinster with a crushing 42-16 home win over outclassed Stade Français in a one-sided all-French last-eight clash which was only going to go one way once Guy Noves’ men turned on the power in the second half.
Early on, Stade looked prepared to make a fight of the tie and they capitalised on a strong start to the contest led when Argentinean prop and club captain Roderigo Roncero grabbed the opening try of the match.
Scotland full-back Hugo Southwell was held up in the left corner but quick service from scrum-half Noel Oelschig and fly-half Lionel Beauxis sent Roncero scuttling past Toulouse number eight Louis Picamoles to score under the posts.
Beauxis converted but the home side responded in the 25th minute when David Skrela booted a close-range penalty before Beauxis added his second successful kick to restore Stade’s seven-point lead.
Skrela’s second successful penalty hauled Toulouse back to within touching distance and they struck the killer blow on the stroke of half-time when Yannick Jauzion squeezed through Oelschig’s tackle for a try with Skrela’s conversion giving the home side a 13-10 lead at the interval.
A flurry of penalties dominated the early proceedings of the second half as both Beauxis and Skrela added six points each.
But Toulouse then turned up the wick and when lock Patrice Albacete crashed over for their second try in the 59th minute with Skrela converting and then adding a penalty, Stade looked a beaten side.
And the Parisians’ fate was sealed when Simon Taylor was sin-binned for killing the ball under the posts with nine minutes to go, creating the space for Cedric Heymans to pile on the misery for the visitors with the late try that triggered Toulouse’s celebrations.
PERPIGNAN 34-6 BENETTON TREVISO
STADE AIMEE GIRAL – Friday 22nd January 2010
PERPIGNAN bowed out of the Heineken Cup with a 34-6 bonus-point revenge win over Italians Benetton Treviso in the Stade Aimee Giral but at Stade Aimé Giral, finishing third in Pool 1 after a disastrous qualifying campaign by the Catalans’ standards.
Beaten in Northampton, Limerick and, surprisingly, by Treviso in Italy, Perpignan took an hour to get on top of the job against the Italians who stayed in the game with a spirited and hard-working display.
Treviso's South African fly-half Marius Goosen opened the scoring with a penalty in the 19th minute but that was cancelled out three minutes later by his opposite number Nicolas Laharrague and the Catalans finally took the lead just before half-time through a try by hooker Charles Geli which Laharrague converted.
Geli, went over for Perpignan’s second try in the 47th minute and Laharrague's conversion stretch the home side’s lead to 15-3 before a penalty from replacement Tobias Botes got Treviso on the second-half scoreboard.
By then, though, Perpignan were in command and tries from lock Yoann Vivalda, replacement hooker Marius Tincu and centre Jean-Philippe Grandclaude finished the game as a contest.
T: Vivalda, Grandclaude, Tincu, Geli 2
C: Porical, Laharrague 2
P: Goosen, Botes
MUNSTER 12-9 NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
THOMOND PARK – Friday 22nd January 2010
FOUR Ronan O’Gara penalties helped Munster see off Northampton Saints at Thomond Park to send the Irish heavyweights into the knockout stages for the 12th consecutive season with a home quarter-final guaranteed.
Northampton’s hopes of qualifying as one of two best runners-up were left hanging on the outcome the final pool ties between the Ospreys and Leicester in Swansea and London Irish’s Twickenham showdown with trophy-holders Leinster.
By Sunday night, the Saints were facing the prospect of a trip back to Thomond Park in the quarter-finals after results went their way and they finished as one of the best runners-up at the end of the pool stages.
Despite a second-half yellow card for captain Paul O’Connell and being outmuscled by a dominant Northampton scrum, fly-half O’Gara’s accuracy proved crucial.
He eclipsed the combined goal-kicking efforts of Bruce Reihana, Shane Geraghty and Stephen Myler, who each landed a penalty for the Saints.
Northampton had their moments but the cutting edge usually supplied by Chris Ashton and Ben Foden was blunted by Munster’s superb defence with man-of-the-match flanker Alan Quinlan among those tackling himself to a standstill.
The initial exchanges were nervous and hurried from both teams, but Munster edged ahead with an O’Gara penalty inside three minutes and the home side then led all the way.
P: O'Gara 4
P: Reihana, Geraghty, Myler
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS 23-32 GLOUCESTER
RODNEY PARADE – Sunday 24th January 2010
GLOUCESTER qualified for the quarter-finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup, booking a quarter-final trip to play London wasps at Adams Park with only their second away win in 17 months – a bonus-point victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade that had seemed unlikely when they trailed by six points at the break.
Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera scored a hat-trick but it was the introduction of the French hooker Olivier Azam that provided the stimulus needed to earn a Challenge Cup quarter-final trip at Wasps.
Azam created Gloucester’s third try for Qera after Nicky Robinson's second penalty had regained the lead for the visitors and Gloucester secured the bonus point after driving a scrum over the Dragons' line to earn a penalty try.
Gloucester started well with Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and Nicky Robinson creating Qera's first try, but the Dragons took the lead with a try from the centre Rhodri Gomer-Davies, whose replacement, Ashley Smith, finished the scoring in stoppage time.
Qera's second try, meanwhile had come from an Attwood line-out take.
Newport Gwent Dragons
T: Smith, Gomer-Davies
C: Arlidge, Tovey
P: Arlidge 2
T: Qera 3, Penalty
C: Robinson 3
P: Robinson 2
BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE 41-20 GLASGOW WARRIORS
PARD DES SPORTS AGUILARA – Sunday 24th January 2010
BIARRITZ clinched a home tie against Stade Français in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals after a second-half demolition job on Glasgow which clinched them a bonus-point victory confirmed the Basque side as the competition’ second seeds in the last eight.
The Scottish outfit led 20-11 early in the second half following scintillating tries from Thom Evans and Chris Cusiter.
But Biarritz rallied with 30 unanswered points in the second half before clinching the crucial bonus point, 50 seconds from the final whistle, to guarantee home advantage.
Eduard Coetzee and Takudzwa Ngwenya crossed before Ilikena Bolakoro followed a penalty try to wrap up maximum points and inflict a fourth loss for Glasgow.
Biarritz had already reserved their place in the quarter-finals after winning four of their previous pool games however they were without key playmakers Dimitri Yachvili and Damien Traille through injury while fly-half Julien Peyrelongue was rested.
But scrum-half Valentin Courrant made sure neither was missed, pulling Biarritz’s string superbly in a man-of-the-match display which saw him kick three conversions and five penalties for a 21-point haul.
T: Ngwenya, Coetzee, Bolakoro, Penalty
C: Courrent 3
P: Courrent 5
T: Cusiter, Evans
C: Parks 2
P: Parks 2
OSPREYS 17-12 LEICESTER TIGERS
LIBERTY STADIUM – Saturday, 23rd January 2010
A Tommy Bowe try proved enough to book the Ospreys a Heineken Cup quarter-final trip to Biarritz at the expense of Leicester Tigers as one of the two best runners-up in the qualifying stages after a clash in the Liberty Stadium which ended on a controversial note.
Leicester lodged a formal post-match complaint after full-back Lee Byrne rejoined the action from the blood bin with nobody going off, giving the home side 16 men until referee Alan Lewis stopped the match and the Ospreys took Dan Biggar off, switching James Hook to fly-half to sort the problem out.
Leicester were the first on the scoreboard through the boot of Toby Flood in the sixth minute but the home side hit back when fly-half Dan Biggar squeezed over a drop goal before Flood kicked Leicester back in front again in a frenetic opening spell.
Biggar responded with a penalty but Leicester again edged in front when Jeremy Staunton clipped over a drop goal after the Tigers pack set him up from a line-out deep in the home side’s territory.
In what was proving to be a tight contest, Biggar clipped over another penalty before the Ospreys grabbed the first only try of the match when Ireland wing Tommy Bowe touched down to send the Welshmen in 14-9 ahead at the break.
The Tigers reduced the deficit to two points with a long-range Flood penalty after the break and Biggar responded to restore the Ospreys’ five-point cushion, prompting Leicester to camp in the Ospreys half looking for a score which never came thanks to the home side’s superb defensive efforts.
P: Biggar 2
P: Flood 3
ARIX VIADANA 20-59 ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE
STADE LUIGI ZAFANELLA – Saturday 23rd January 2010
CLERMONT Auvergne booked a trip to Dublin for a Heineken Cup quarter-final date with holders Leinster with an emphatic 59-20 win over a hapless Viadana outfit in Italy.
The French side, who registered a convincing 27-6 win against Ospreys last week, knew that only a bonus point win would see them through and were 7-0 ahead within two minutes thanks to a converted Morgan Parra try.
The French side then ran riot to pick up the four tries required for a bonus point by half-time with Napoleoni Nalaga and Aurelien Rougerie (twice) touching down.
Vern Cotter’s team then moved into a commanding 52-6 lead thanks to tries from Julien Malzieu, Elvis Vermeulen, Nalaga and a penalty try while Brock James continued his fine form, kicking six conversions.
Julio Garcia’s converted try gave the home side some hope but Clermont soon hit back to open up a 59-18 lead thanks to a try from full-back Anthony Floch.
Viadana grabbed another late try through replacement Gareth Krause but by then Clermont had the game and a quarter-final slot in the bag.
T: Krause, Garcia
C: Hola 2
ASM Clermont Auvergne
T: Rougerie 2, Bonnaire, Nalaga 2, Vermeulen, Malzieu, Parra, Penalty
C: James 5, Floch 2
BATH RUGBY 10-28 ULSTER
THE REC – Saturday 23rd January 201
BATH’S miserable Heineken Cup Pool 4 qualifying campaign ended the way it started at The Rec – with a defeat at the hands of Ulster, who beat an English club on English soil for the first time but still failed to overhaul Stade Francais for a quarter-final place, despite the French side’s defeat in Edinburgh.
While the Irish side celebrated a famous victory, Bath were left to rue a 33rd minute red card for veteran lock Danny Grewcock issued by French referee Jerome Garces for a clear stamp on Ulster, Ireland and Lions back-rower Stephen Ferris’s arm at a ruck.
Ulster, who started the tie second in the pool, four points behind top-of-the-table Stade Francais were 7-6 behind when Grewcock got his marching orders after a converted 21st minute Matt Banahan’s got the home side in front.
Ulster fly-half Niall O'Connor, who start at fly-half with Ian Humphreys rotated to the bench, kicked two penalties in an opening quarter dominated by the visitors and he punished Grewcock’s indiscretion with another penalty goal to send the visitors in 9-7 up at the interval.
Three minutes into the second half, Ireland wing Andrew Trimble scythed through the Bath defence from the halfway line to snatch a great individual try which gave Ulster a seven-point lead.
Five minutes later, the visitors took the game away from Bath with a second try laid on a plate for centre Darren Cave by clever play from Scotland wing Simon Danielli.
With O’Connor converting both touchdowns, Bath responded with a Little penalty to pull it back to 21-10 and they then threw the kitchen sink at Ulster in a pulsating final quarter.
But Ulster weathered the storm and they stitched up their victory two minutes from time when Paddy Wallace powered over under the posts for Ulster's third try with O'Connor adding the conversion.
T: Wallace, Trimble, Cave
C: O'Connor 2
P: O'Connor 3
EDINBURGH 9-7 STADE FRANÇAIS
MURRAYFIELD – Saturday 23rd January 2010
STADE Français squeezed into the Heineken Cup quarter-finals as the top side in Pool 4 after claiming a vital losing bonus-point in a 9-7 defeat by Edinburgh at Murrayfield, a result which left Stade facing a daunting last-eight trip to Toulouse.
Three penalties from Chris Paterson were enough to give spirited Edinburgh, who finished third in the pool behind Ulster, their win in a contest where try-scoring chances were few and far between.
Indeed, the French side scored the only try of the match when Pape crossed the whitewash in the first half with France international Lionel Beauxis converting to send the visitors in 6-7 ahead at half-time.
But Edinburgh were the only team to score in a dour second half with Paterson booting his third penalty to give the Scottish side their third pool win.
P: Paterson 3
Stade Français Paris
HARLEQUINS 20-45 CARDIFF BLUES
THE STOOP – Sunday 24th January 2010
CARDIFF Blues knew what they had to do to reach the quarter-finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup when they arrived at the Twickenham Stoop, but after wobbling horribly in the first 10 minutes, the Welsh side went on to book a Challenge Cup quarter-final trip to Newcastle with a powerhouse display.
The Blues found themselves eight points adrift early on despite aiming for a minimum target of three tries and a 13-point victory that would take them past Ulster and into the final qualifying position for the Amlin Challenge Cup.
George Lowe’s early try for Quins and a Rory Clegg penalty merely made their task all the more difficult at the outset and once they got going, Cardiff were deserved winners.
They had the try-scoring bonus point in the bag by half-time thanks to tries from Gareth Thomas, Ben Blair, Ceri Sweeney and Xavier Rush.
They leaked two more second-half tries to Quins’ who got England duo Nick Easter and Danny Care over the Blues line.
But British Lions centre Jamie Roberts added two more tries in the second half and the consistent boot of full-back Ben Blair provided another 15 points in a comprehensive victory.
T: Care, Lowe, Easter
T: Blair, Roberts 2, Sweeney, Rush, G Thomas
C: Blair 6
SALE SHARKS 13-19 TOULOUSE
EDGELEY PARK – Sunday 24th January 2010
SALE Sharks missed out on a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals after a 13-19 home defeat by three-times Heineken Cup winners at Edgeley Park ended their European season despite a spirited display against the French heavyweights.
Sale needed a bonus-point victory to extend their European campaign but they let the match slip away from them after holding their opponents to a 6-6lhalf time score.
Toulouse, who will face Pool 4 winners Stade Francais at home in the Heineken Cup quarters, made the vital break after the interval when Virgil Lacombe scored the first try of the match.
Sale bounced back with a try from Mathew Tait in the 65th minute mark but Toulouse retaliated with two Jean-Baptiste Elissalde penalties to extend their lead and the Sharks were unable to get back on terms.
P: Hodgson 2
P: Elissalde 3
LONDON IRISH 11-11 LEINSTER
TWICKENHAM – Saturday 23rd January 2010
LONDON Irish fell agonisingly short of upsetting Heineken Cup holders Leinster at Twickenham in an 11-11 draw which saw Brian O’Driscoll’s side book a home quarter-final clash with ASM Clermont Auvergne with a last-gasp drop-goal from Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton.
Sexton calmly slotted the opening points from the kicking tee early on but opposite number Chris Malone claimed the4 Exiles’ first points with a penalty as the clock ticked down to half-time.
Just after the break, Leinster grabbed the opening try when Jamie Heaslip picked up from the base of a scrum and went for the line.
When he was held up by the Irish defence, Leinster quickly worked the ball wide and Nacewa went over with space to spare in the corner for an unconverted score.
Malone turned down a shot at goal as the clock ticked past the hour, electing to kick a conservative touch and go for the try and that paid off when Chris Hala'ufia shipped the ball to Malone, who wriggled over and then missed the conversion.
Malone made amends for his miss when the Leinster scrum conceded a penalty and he bisected the posts to give the Exiles an 11-9 lead.
But the Irish celebrations were cut short when Sexton smashed over an opportunistic drop-goal from the restart to level it up again and the home side were unable to get their noses back in front with two Malone drop-goal shots falling short in stoppage time.
P: Malone 2
BRIVE 17-20 SCARLETS
STADIUM MUNICIPAL – Saturday 23rd January 2010
THE Scarlets leapfrogged ahead of London Irish into second place in Pool 6 with a hard-earned 20-17 over Brive in France to secure a spot in the last eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup, where they will make the trip to Toulon in the last eight.
Brive put the Welsh side through the mill in the opening 30 minutes, scoring two tries to open up a 10-0 lead.
Hooker Jean-Philippe Bonrepaux started the scoring in the 20th minute before Argentinean wing Horacio Agulla extended the Top 14 side’s lead seven minutes later.
The Scarlets hit back before the break with a penalty from Stephen Jones and when second row Damien Welch scored an important try for the Welsh side in the 38th minute with Jones converting, it was 10-10 at the interval.
Six minutes after the restart Morgan Stoddart grabbed a second try for the Scarlets with Jones again converting to make it 17-10.
But battling Brive came roaring back with a try from South African centre Ronnie Cooke to tie the game up, leaving the ice-cool Jones to secure the Scarlets’ win with a late penalty.
T: Bonrepaux, Agulla, Cooke
T: Stoddart, Welch
C: Jones 2
P: Jones 2
BENETTON TREVISO 7-44 MUNSTER
STADE COMMUNALE DI MONIGO - Saturday 16th January 2010
MUNSTER ran in six tries to comfortably beat Benetton Treviso 44-7 at Stadio Comunale di Monigo keeping the pre-tournament favourites on course to claim the quarter-final slot from Pool 1 and the competition’s top quarter-final seeding.
British Lions wing Keith Earls touched down two tries with Denis Hurley, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul Warwick and Donnacha Ryan also scored while Ronan O’Gara kicked 12 points in the emphatic victory.
Alessandro Zanni grabbed an interception score for stubborn Treviso but the Italian champions never looked likely to win this tie.
Munster took control of the tie after scoring three tries in the space of eight minutes with O’Gara converting one to take a 20-0 lead inside 16 minutes, although Zanni hit back for the hosts with Marius Goossen converting before Warwick’s try wrapped up the bonus point for the visitors before the interval.
Even at 30-7 down, Treviso refused to buckle and it took Munster 20 minutes to score again when Jean de Villiers set up Earls with O’Gara converting for a 37-7 lead in the 63rd minute with Ryan scoring the final Munster try in the last attack of the contest.
Munster’s win left them two points clear at the top of the pool ahead of Northampton, who make the trip to Thomond Park in the final qualifying round needing to complete a double over the Irish heavyweights to make the quarter-finals.
T: Earls 2, Warwick, Hurley Ryan, O'Callaghan
C: O'Gara 3, Warwick
P: O'Gara 2
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 34-0 PERPIGNAN
FRANKLINS GARDENS – Sunday 17th January 2010
NORTHAMPTON kept their hopes of following up last season’s Challenge Cup triumph with a trip to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals very much alive with a second-half demolition job on French champions Perpignan at Franklins Gardens.
Beaten 29-13 in France earlier in qualifying stages, the Saints more than made up for that by becoming the first team to ‘nil’ Perpignan in 10 seasons of Heineken Cup competition.
Two Shane Geraghty penalties separated the sides at the break, but the tries flowed for the home team in the second half with England full-back Ben Foden setting up two of his side’s four tries.
Right wing Chris Ashton grabbed the first on the overlap before scrum-half Lee Dickson burrowed over from a close-range line-out.
Back rower Phil Dowson bagged try number three after another great intervention from Foden and centre Jon Clarke brought the house down with his stoppage-time try in the corner to clinch the bonus point and set up a grandstand finish in Pool 1 in Round 6 when Northampton tackle Munster in Limerick with a quarter-final place at stake.
GLASGOW WARRIORS 29-25 NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS
FIRHILL ARENA – Friday 15th January 2010
GLASGOW Warriors and Newport Gwent Dragons fought out a thrilling basement battle, despite both sides being out of contention for the quarter-final berth from Pool 2.
The home side scored two tries in a blistering opening three-minute spell to secure a comfortable early lead thanks to scores from Rob Dewey and John Beattie).
Fly-half Ruaridh Jackson slotted one of the conversions to help his side into a 12-0 lead before the Dragons had been given time to settle into the contest.
The Welsh side, though, hit back quickly and Robert Sidoli’s fifth-minute try giving them a rapid morale boost and after that Paul Turners’ side made a real contest of the match.
A third try from Fergus Thomson in the second half, which saw Jackson punish Dragons’ indiscretions with three penalty goals and his half-back partner Colin Gregor add a fourth meant goal-kicking proved to be the difference between the two sides at the end.
The Dragons mustered second-half tries from centre Rhodri Gomer-Davies and flanker James Harris with fly-half Shaun Connor kicking a penalty and a conversion and full-back Jason Tovey adding another conversion.
T: Dewey, Beattie, Thomson
P: Jackson 3, Gregor
Newport Gwent Dragons
T: Sidoli, Gomer-Davies, Harris
C: Connor, Tovey
P: Connor, Arlidge
GLOUCESTER RUGBY 23-8 BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE
KINGSHOLM – Saturday 16th January 2010
GLOUCESTER can still qualify for an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final berth if they beat Newport Gwent Dragons in Wales in their final qualifying match after a 23-8 Kingsholm win over Biarritz, who finished the weekend with a six-point cushion that guarantees them passage to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals from Pool 2.
Tries from Lesley Vainikolo and Tim Molenaar, together with 13 points from the boot of Nicky Robinson saw Gloucester home comfortably after they produced, arguably, their most well-rounded performance of the season to date.
Two Robinson penalties and the conversion on Vainikolo’s 15th minute try had Gloucester 13-3 in front at the interval after Valentin Courrent kicked a lone first-half penalty for the French side.
Robinson made it 16-3 early in the second half and when Molenaar crashed over for his try, Robinson’s conversion all but ended the game as a contest.
Biarritz skipper Imanol Harinordoquy powered over for a consolation score for the visitors with five minutes left.
T: Vainikolo, Molenaar
C: Robinson 2
P: Robinson 3
LEICESTER TIGERS 47-8 ARIX VIADANA
WELFORD ROAD – Saturday, 16th January 2010
LEICESTER Tigers were far too strong for Italian strugglers Viadana at Welford Road in their Round 5 clash, running out 47-8 to go a point clear at the top of Pool 3, a point clear of the Ospreys and ASM Clermont Auvergne.
The Tigers were never troubled, outscoring the Italians seven tries to one but flanker Tom Croft was carried off the field after 27 minutes with a knee injury that threatens his RBS 6 Nations hopes.
Scott Hamilton was Viadana's nemesis once again as he bagged a brace.
Full-back Hamilton scored a hat-trick when Leicester crushed the same opponents 46-11 in Italy last year and his two strikes at Welford Road included the fourth try which ensured a maximum five-point haul.
After conceding a late losing bonus-point try to Clermont Auvergne before Christmas, Leicester knew they badly needed a full-house victory before facing the Ospreys in their final pool match in Swansea, where a win will be enough to send them into the knockout stages.
Dan Hipkiss also scored a brace of tries, while Ben Woods, Toby Flood and Aaron Mauger also crossed for the Tigers, with Flood booting 10 points and Sam Vesty adding a further conversion late on.
T: Hamilton 2, Woods, Hipkiss 2, Flood, Mauger
C: Flood 5, Vesty
ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE 27-7 OSPREYS
STADE MARCEL MICHELIN – Saturday 16th January 2010
THE Ospreys need to beat Leicester Tigers at the Liberty Stadium in their final Pool 3 outing and hope ASM Clermont Auvergne fail to land a bonus-point win over bottom-of-the-pool Viadana to book a Heineken Cup quarter-final slot after they were dismantled by Clermont in France.
Wings Julien Malzieu and Napolioni Nalaga grabbed second-half tries for the French outfit in an intense contest in the noisy Stade Marcel Michelin, where Clermont were in no mood to take prisoners.
Ireland wing Tommy Bowe looked to have set the Ospreys on their way with a seventh-minute score which gave the Welsh side, who left Shane Williams and James Hook on the bench, an early lead but the French giants reacted to the early setback and dominated proceedings from then on.
By half-time, three Brock James penalties and a drop-goal had edged Clermont into a 12-7 interval lead.
Malzieu then struck the killer blow just after the hour mark when Clermont skipper Aurelien Rougerie put him away with James missing the conversion and Nalaga sealed the home side’s win with three minutes left when he intercepted a Dan Biggar pass and outstripped the chasing Ospreys defence.
ULSTER 21-13 EDINBURGH
RAVENHILL – Friday 15th January 2010
IRELAND scrum-half Isaac Boss scored a try and made one to help his side sink Edinburgh at Ravenhill to keep Ulster’s chances of overhauling Stade Français at the top of Pool 4 alive if they can win in Bath and Edinburgh upset the Parisians in Scotland in the final qualifying round.
Ulster played into the teeth of a Belfast gale and driving rain and they were happy to change ends at half-time just a point adrift of Edinburgh.
The home side’s outstanding pick-and-drive game up front forced Edinburgh to make 100 tackles with the wind at their backs and two Chris Paterson penalties were all the Scottish side could muster in a first half dominated by the Ulster pack.
Ulster, meanwhile, notched a try from centre Darren Cave that was inspired by two runs from Boss, who then touched down himself in the 55th minute after fly-half Ian Humpheys had kicked Ulster in front at the start of the second half.
But Edinburgh stayed in touch with Ulster’s Stephen Ferris in the sin-bin, snatching a great try by right win Jim Thompson with Paterson converting before another Humphries penalty steadied the home side’s ship.
Humphreys’ replacement, Niall O’Connor then made victory safe late on with another penalty.
P: Paterson 2
T: Cave, Boss
P: Humphreys 2, O’Connor
STADE FRANÇAIS 15-13 BATH RUGBY
STADE JEAN BOUIN – Saturday, 16th January 2010
STADE Français have one foot in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals ahead of their final Pool 4 against Edinburgh at Murrayfield, where a losing bonus point in round six will make them safe, after a 15-13 win over Bath in awful conditions in the Stade Jean Bouin gave them a four-point cushion over Ulster at the top of the pool.
Two first-half tries from wing Julien Arias in the space of ten minutes proved enough to see Bath off in a driving rain which reduced the Parisian pitch to a mudbath, making running rugby all but impossible to play.
Bath fought hard and fly-half Nicky Little cancelled out an early penalty from Stade full-back Didier Beauxis before Arias crossed in the 23rd and 33rd minutes with Beauxis converting his second try to give the home side a 15-3 lead.
Skipper Michael Claassens gave Bath hope with a 34th minute try, capitalising on a dreadful error from Beauxis, with Nicky Little converting before he clipped over a penalty to cut the half-time deficit to just two points.
But neither side could muster a point after the break in a second half which became increasingly tense although Stade’ superior kicking game always looked enough to see them through with Bath forced to play far too much of their rugby pinned back inside their own half.
CARDIFF BLUES 36-19 SALE SHARKS
CARDIFF CITY STADIUM – Saturday 16th January 2010
CARDIFF Blues’ chances of making the Heineken Cup semi-finals for a second successive year have evaporated, despite a comfortable bonus-point home win over Sale Sharks, after seeing Toulouse chalk up a comfortable home win over Harlequins to take an unassailable six-point lead at the top of Pool 5.
Sale, bidding to keep their own qualification hopes alive, got off to a flying start thanks to an opportunist try from giant Number eight Sisa Koyamaibole and they were still in front at half-time with only seven points separating the two sides in the Cardiff City Stadium.
But two tries from scrum-half Richie Rees and prop Barry Davies in a five-minute purple patch at the start of the second half and four penalties from the boot of full-back Ben Blair, who also finished up with three conversions swung the game Cardiff’s way.
Sale stayed in the hunt with at try from Mathew Tait that owed everything to the timing of a Charlie Hodgson pass and lock James Gaskell romped over for a second try for the visitors with Hodgson’s touchline conversion sparking a fight-back.
But, with Sale chasing a fourth try to keep their hopes of an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final place alive, Xavier Rush nipped in to steal an interception try under the posts and Blair’s conversion wrapped it up for the Blues.
T: Rees, Davies, Rush
C: Blair 3
P: Halfpenny, Blair 4
T: Gaskell, Koyamaibole, Tait
C: Hodgson 2
TOULOUSE 33-21 HARLEQUINS
STADE ERNEST WALLON – Sunday 17th January 2010
FOUR-TIME winners Toulouse are home and hosed in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the 12th time in the 15-year-old competition after they turned on the style to see off Harlequins 33-21 in the Stade Ernest Vallon to go six points clear at the top of Pool 5s.
Quins, who had failed to win any of their previous pool outings, scored the first try of the contest when Mike Brown crossed after 22 minutes with Nick Evans converting, but their 7-3 lead lasted a few seconds at the most.
A second Jean Baptiste Ellissalde penalty eased Toulouse up to within a point, his third penalty put them ahead and they were in front at half-time after Florian Fritz crossed the Quins line and Ellissalde added the conversion.
After the break, the match became a one-sided affair with Toulouse going through the gears to blow away any hopes there might have been that Quins could pull off an upset with tries from skipper Jean Bouilhou, Cedric Heymans and Maxine Medard.
Quins did hit back late on with two tries from Ugo Monye but the England and Lions wing’s brace did little more than give the score-line a more acceptable veneer from the Londoners’ perspective.
LEINSTER 27-10 BRIVE
ROYAL DUBLIN SHOWGROUND - Saturday 16th January 2010
HEINEKEN Cup holders Leinster will need to suffer a major rugby disaster when they take on London Irish at Twickenham in their final Pool 6 qualifier to miss out on a quarter-final; berth ’after they chalked up a routine bonus-point victory over Brive at the Royal Dublin Showground.
Leinster ran out 27-10 winners, but they had to wait until the final minute of the match for the crucial fourth try after Brive did their best to frustrate the Irish side throughout the contest.
It took the home side 26 minutes to notch the opening penalty try with fly-half Johnny Sexton, who finished with seven points, converting for a what turned out to be a 7-0 half-time lead.
Leinster upped it a gear in the second half, though, and a Sexton penalty got them into double figures and when wing Isa Nacewa crossed for their second try, the win was all but in the bag.
That saw space begin to open up, although Retief Uys’ try on the hour mark gave the visitors a glimmer of hope and Scott Spedding added a second try for Brive after Gordon D’Arcy had touched down to stretch the home side’s lead.
But Leinster piled on the pressure late on and Brian O’Driscoll wrapped up the bonus point win with a try down the right in 79th minute to set up a grandstand finish to Pool 5 against London Irish at Twickenham.
T: O'Driscoll, Nacewa, D'Arcy, Penalty
C: Sexton 2
T: Uys, Spedding
SCARLETS 31-22 LONDON IRISH
PARC Y SCARLETS – Sunday 17th January 2010
THE Scarlets did Leinster a huge Heineken Cup favour by recording a stunning 31-22, bonus-point Parc y Scarlets victory over London Irish, producing a stunning second-half comeback from 22-10 down to complete a qualifying double over the Exiles.
Irish had appeared to be on their way to a priceless bonus-point away win with three tries in the bag and 20 minutes to go before the collapsed to a defeat which saw Nigel Davies’ side complete a Pool 5 double over them.
A brace of converted scores inside five minutes from the blind-side flanker Rob McCusker and a last-minute try from centre Jonathan Davies turned the contest on its head and made sure London Irish were denied so much as a losing bonus-point.
Wing Tom Homer’s fourth Heineken Cup try of the season got Irish off to a flier before the Scarlets hit back with the first of Davies two tries to level it up with eight minutes gone and Rhys Priestland’s conversion made it 7-5 to the home side.
Hooker David Paice then made the most of a quickly-taken tap penalty by Paul Hodgson and Ryan Lamb’s conversion and a penalty eased Irish into a 15-7 lead which Priestland cut to three points before the interval.
Irish number eight Chris Hala’ufia claimed their third try with 51 minutes gone and Lamb’s conversion gave the Exiles what looked like an unassailable lead with an hour gone, at which point the Scarlets proceeded to tear up the script, hammering a huge dent in the visitors’ hopes of making the knock-out stages.
T: McCusker 2, Davies 2
C: Priestland 4
BENETTON TREVISO 18-21 NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
STADIO COMUNALE DI MONIGO – Saturday 19th December 2009
NORTHAMPTON Saints survived a late scare to claim a potentially priceless 21-18 win over stubborn Benetton Treviso in Italy, which saw the Guinness Premiership forced to hang on at the death to stay in the three-way Pool 1 qualifying race with Munster and Perpignan.
A late penalty try brought Treviso back to within a score of the clear pre-match favourites after Saints had led 7-3 at half-time through number eight Phil Dowson's first-half try and then scored two second-half tries from centre Jon Clarke and lock Courtney Lawes.
But they were forced on to the back foot by a 51st minute try from Treviso wing Emiliano Mulieri and that late penalty try, awarded for a scrum offence while Ireland open-side Neil Best was in the sin bin for a professional foul on home fly-half Marius Goosen, who had kicked the home side’s only points of the first half with a penalty.
Goosen had missed a number of chances earlier in the match which would have kept Treviso in the hunt before he passed kicking duties to Tobias Botes, who notched a penalty and the penalty try conversion.
T: Mulieri, Pen
P: Goosen, Botes
T: Clarke, Dowson, Lawes
C: Myler 2, Geraghty
PERPIGNAN 14-37 MUNSTER
STADE AIMEE GIRAL – Sunday 20th December 2009
MUNSTER flexed their muscles to record one of the most impressive on-the-road triumphs in Heineken Cup history with a four-try 37-13 bonus-point win over Perpignan in the Stade Aimee Giral to take control of the Pool 1 qualifying race.
The reigning French champions had won 16 successive European ties on home turf over the five years since the last lost to Wasps in 2004, but they had no answers to the questions posed by a Munster side in unstoppable form.
Scrum-half David Mele gave Perpignan an early 3-0 lead which was quickly cancelled out by Ronan O’Gara and Munster led when David Wallace and Paul Warwick set up Denis Fogarty for the Irish side’s first try with O’Gara converting.
By half-time, it was 10-9 to Munster after Mele clipped over two penalties but O’Gara was just as accurate with two kicks of his own to give his side a 16-9 lead six minutes into the second half.
That proved the launching pad for Munster to take the game away from Perpignan and a try from Denis Hurley, converted by Warwick, moved them further ahead until Guilhem Guirado snatched an opportunist, but unconverted, try from the front of a line-out with 66 minutes gone.
But Munster’s response was emphatic and they conjured up late tries replacement centre Jean de Villiers and Doug Howlett to put the final seal on a hugely impressive performance.
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS 8-26 BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE
PARC Y SCARLETS – Saturday 19th December 2009
BIARRITZ have one foot in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals after 23 points from scrum-half Dimitri Yashvili Dimitri helped the Basque side blow away Newport Gwent Dragons in a match delayed 24 hours and switched to the Parc y Scarlets after Friday night’s attempt to play the tie fell foul of a frozen Rodney Parade pitch.
Newport needed to beat the French side to have any hope of qualifying from Pool 2 but, like their home pitch the previous evening, grabbed the early lead with a try from wing Richard Fussell after Yashvili opened his and Biarritz’s account with a penalty
Yachvili and James Arlidge then swapped penalties before half-time and Damien Traille punished the Dragons, who had wing Aled Brew in the sin bin, just after the break with a drop-goal.
From then on, it was Biarritz all the way and Yachvili gift-wrapped the win with his side’s first try in the 61st minute.
And Yachvili hammered the final nail in the Dragons’ Heineken Cup coffin for this season when he snaffled his second try under the posts with the help of Arnaud Mignardi in the dying minutes.
Newport Gwent Dragons
T: Yachvili 2
C: Yachvili 2
P: Yachvili 3
GLOUCESTER RUGBY 19-6 GLASGOW WARRIORS
KINGSHOLM - Sunday 20th December 2009
GLOUCESTER scored a revenge 19-6 Pool 2 win over Glasgow Warriors at Kingsholm but it was an empty victory in a dead rubber with Biarritz running away in the qualification race leaving both clubs with no chance of making the Heineken Cup quarter-finals
Beaten 33-11 in Glasgow a week earlier, Gloucester trailed 6-0 at the interval after Scotland fly-half Dan Parks clipped over a 13th minute penalty and a drop-goal in the 26th minute, but Gloucester stepped up a couple of gears after the break to finish the day in second spot Pool 2, albeit ten points adrift of Biarritz with two games to play.
Wales fly-half Nicky Robinson hauled Gloucester back on terms with two penalties in the first ten minutes of the second half and an unconverted try from Charlie Sharples, set up by outside centre James Simpson-Daniel gave the home side an 11-6 lead.
With 20 minutes to go, Robinson added a third penalty to give the Cherry and Whites an eight-point cushion and Simpson-Daniel and full-back Olly Morgan then combined to set up the clinching try for lock Alex Brown in the 70th minute.
T: Brown, Sharples
P: Robinson 3
OSPREYS 45-19 VIADANA
LIBERTY STADIUM – Saturday 19th December 2009
THE Ospreys ran riot with a six-try rout of Viadana at the Liberty Stadium to take command of a very tight Pool 3 qualifying race with a four-point lead at the top of the table with games against Heineken Cup heavyweights Leicester Tigers and ASM Clermont Auvergne to come in January.
It was one-way traffic all afternoon as the unbeaten Welsh region claimed their third pool win on the bounce after an epic 32-32 draw in their opening game against Leicester at Welford Road.
The home side cruised into a 24-6 half-time, notching tries from Irish wing Tommy Bowe, number eight Filo Tiatia and centre Sony Parker, all converted by fly-half Dan Biggar who had kicked an early penalty to get the scoreboard moving.
Full-back Gareth Owen grabbed the bonus-point fourth try early in the second half and a second try from Bowe and touchdown number six from Scotland wing Nikki Walker sealed it for the rampant home side with Biggar taking his conversion count to six.
Defeat left Viadana, who mustered a try from replacement back-rower Gavin Quinnell converted by full-back Garry Law and four Law penalties in reply, rooted to the bottom of the pool table.
T: Walker, Owen, Parker, Tiatia, Bowe 2
C: Biggar 6
P: Law 4
LEICESTER TIGERS 20-15 ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE
WELFORD ROAD – Saturday 19th December 2009
LEICESTER and Clermont Auvergne are both still right in a three-way battle to qualify from Pool 2 after the Tigers beat the French side 20-15 at Welford Road in a fiercely-fought and enthralling contest played out in front of a 21,286 crowd.
Tries from centre Anthony Allen and full back Scott Hamilton, together with ten points from the boot of fly-half Toby Flood gave Leicester a win which left them level on points with Clermont in second place with both four points adrift of pool leaders Ospreys in Pool 3.
After a nip-and-tuck first half, the Tigers claimed a 13-6 lead when brilliant work from scrum-half Ben Youngs set up a try for centre Anthony Allen on the half-hour.
Clermont stuck with the task at hand and they were back to within a point by the 65th minute thanks fly-half Brock James’s third drop-goal but full-back Scott Hamilton raced in for a try 40 metres out with Flood adding the conversion to give the Tigers an eight- point cushion.
And Clermont looked likely to leave Welford Road empty-handed until a third James penalty secured what could yet prove to be a crucial losing bonus-point.
EDINBURGH 9-6 BATH RUGBY
MURRAYFIELD – Saturday 19th December 2009
EDINBURGH killed off Bath’s hopes of a second successive trip to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals in blizzard conditions at Murrayfield at snow-swept Murrayfield, where three penalties from the boot of prolific full-back Chris Paterson were enough to keep the Scottish side’s Pool 4 qualification hopes just about alive.
While Paterson split the Bath posts three times from four attempts in slippery underfoot conditions, Bath tried three goal-kickers with starting fly-half Nicky Little notching all of their points while his replacement Ryan Davis and replacement full-back Jack Cuthbert both drew blanks.
The contest was all-square at half-time after Paterson’s first successful penalty gave Edinburgh the lead and his second squared it up after two Little penalties had Bath in front after half-an-hour with thick snow falling and underfoot conditions getting more treacherous by the minute.
The snow abated after the interval but try-scoring chances remained conspicuous by their absence in a match where both defences were right on top of the job.
Paterson, who collected the man of the match award for a superb kicking performance from tee and hand, notched the only points of the second half on the hour with his third successful penalty and that proved enough to keep Edinburgh’s quarter-final hopes alive with two games to play.
P: Paterson 3
P: Little 2
STADE FRANÇAIS 29-16 ULSTER
STADE JEAN BOUIN – Sunday 20th December 2009
STADE FRANÇAIS moved four points clear at the top of Pool 4 at the Stade Jean Bouin, where they avenged their Round 3 defeat in Belfast with a comfortable win over Ulster in a switched to the Parisian club’s home ground after a frozen pitch in Brussels forced the game to be postponed 24 hours earlier.
Ulster led early on through an Ian Humphreys penalty but opposite number Didier Beauxis quickly levelled and Stade sized the initiative when hooker Dimitri Szarzewski zipped over for the opening try with Beauxis converting.
Humphreys pulled it back to 10-6 with a penalty but Beauxis then banged over three penalties in reply to stretch Stade’s cushion to 13 points before the Ulster fly-half struck again to make it a ten-point game just before half-time.
Beauxis stroked over another penalty on the hour and Stade then wrapped up the win six minutes later with a second try from Szarzewski’s replacement Benjamin Kayser, taking a 29-9 lead with Ulster centre Andrew Trimble grabbing a consolation try for the visitors ten minutes from the end.
TOULOUSE 23-7 CARDIFF BLUES
STADE MUNICIPAL – Saturday 19th December 2009
CARDIFF Blues’ hopes of qualifying for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for a second successive year look slim after they crashed to an ill-disciplined 23-7 defeat by Toulouse in the Stade Municipal, where stand-in scrum-half Frederic Michalak was the match-winner with an 18-point haul.
Michalak kicked five penalties and a drop-goal as well as setting up skipper Thierry Dusautoir's first-half try to set the home side up for a thumping victory, although Cardiff hit back with a try from prop Fa'ao Filise, converted by full-back Ben Blair to make it 20-7 after half-an-hour.
But any chance of a sustained Blues fight-back evaporated with back-rower Andy Powell, in the first half, and skipper Paul Tit, after the break, both dispatched to the sin bin by Irish referee Alan Lewis.
P: Michalak 5
SALE SHARKS 21-17 HARLEQUINS
EDGELEY PARK – Sunday 20th December 2009
SALE Sharks kept their Heineken Cup quarter-final dream alive at wintery Edgeley Park with a second successive win which killed off fellow Guinness Premiership rivals Harlequins’ qualification hopes and kept them on course for a pivotal home clash with Pool 3 leaders Toulouse next month.
In a match which only went ahead after an army of volunteers cleared snow off the pitch, Sisa Koyamaibole's third-minute try got Sale off to a flier but Quins fly-half Nick Evans hit back, converting his own try to put Harlequins in front.
And when prop Aston Croall touched down with Evans converting, Harlequins looked to be in the driving seat until a brace of Charlie Hodgson penalties cut their lead to three points.
Sale led for second time in the contest when heavyweight prop Eifion Roberts thundered over for a try and, although Evans cut their lead again with a penalty, Hodgson had the last say for Sale with his third penalty of the match to seal the home side’s wins.
T: Roberts, Koyamaibole
P: Hodgson 3
T: Croall, Evans
C: Evans 2
LONDON IRISH 34-13 BRIVE
MADEJSKI STADIUM – Saturday 19th December 2009
LONDON Irish completed a back-to-back bonus-point win double over Brive in the Madejski Stadium to underline their intention of pushing reigning Heineken Cup champions Leinster, who top the table on try count, all the way in Pool 6.
England full-back Delon Armitage came off the bench to put the icing on the Exiles’ cake with the crucial fourth try against an ill-disciplined and poorly motivated Brive side which had four men dispatched to the sin bin over the course of a largely one-sided contest.
The Exiles started well with young wing Tom Homer finishing off the first of his try double, but Brive answered with a penalty from Luciano Orquera to stay in the early hunt before Chris Malone stretched Irish into a 13-6 lead.
Seilala Mapasua’s power and pace served up the home side’s second touchdown and Elvis Seveali’i’s footwork took him over the Brive line to make it 27-6 with an hour gone.
Brive had their fourth player sin binned, after Scott Speeding took Delon Armitage out to early denying the full-back an earlier bonus-point try.
But Armitage had the last laugh before Guillaume Namy snatched a late consolation touchdown for the well beaten visitors.
T: Mapusua, Homer, Seveali'i, Armitage
C: Malone 3, Lamb
P: Malone 2
P: Orquera 2
LEINSTER 39-7 SCARLETS
ROYAL DUBLIN SHOWGROUND – Saturday 19th December 2009
DEFENDING European champions Leinster completed a valuable Pool 6 double over the Scarlets with a commanding 39-7 bonus-point victory at the Royal Dublin Showground which was sparked by a three-try first-half blitz.
Full-back Rob Kearney crossed the Scarlets’ line in the seventh and 22nd minutes and wing Shane Horgan rounded off a perfect first half for his side with a long-range interception try three minutes before the break to give the home side a 15-0 interval lead.
A distant second best again after they were torn apart by Leinster at home a week earlier, any hope the Scarlets had of fighting their way back into the match evaporated when centre Gordon D’Arcy ran in the bonus-point try for Leinster five minutes after the break.
From then on, it was virtually one way traffic with D’Arcy notching his second touchdown and midfield partner Brian O’Driscoll adding two more tries to Leinster’s tally to turn Pool 6 into a two-horse race with London Irish.
Stand-in Scarlets full-back Rhys Priestland scored a late try for the visitors but it was scant consolation for the Welsh side which was left with virtually no chance of making the knockout stages.
MUNSTER 24-23 PERPIGNAN
Friday, 11th December 2009
UNDER-PRESSURE Ireland and Lions fly-half Ronan O'Gara kicked seven penalties and a drop-goal to edge 2008 European champions to a crucial Pool 1 victory over French champions Perpignan in a tense thriller at Thomond Park.
But Munster had to wait six minutes from time to squeeze past the French champions, who lit up Limerick with three tries which included a stunning solo score by former Free State Cheetahs full-back Philip Burger that looked to have clinched a vital away win ten minutes to go.
Munster, chasing 18 wins out of 18 against French opponents at home, were rocked in the first quarter when Perpignan conjured up two tries to snatch the early initiative after O’Gara kicked the home side in front in the second minute.
Back-rower Yoann Vivalda romped over from 20 metres out to score when Munster lost their own line-out throw and after O’Gara clipped over a second penalty scrum-half Nicolas Durand side-stepped Doug Howlett for Perpignan’s second try with full-back Jerome Porical converting.
O'Gara levelled it at 12-12 before the interval with his fourth successful penalty and he gave Munster a six-point lead in a cat-and-mouse affair early in the second half, but Perpignan refused to give in.
Burger’s unconverted try, one of the best individual scores witnessed at Thomond Park, saw the South African cotton on to a lofted kick from Paul Warwick on his own 22, pin his ears back, side-step three tackles and then outstrip Howlett and Warwick to score in the left-hand corner.
That earned the French side a two-point lead with ten minutes to go but when flanker Bertrand Guiry was penalised for a high tackle on Lifeimi Mafi in front of the posts and O'Gara stepped up and calmly clipped over the match-winning penalty.
P: O’Gara 7
T: Vivalda, Durand, Burger
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 30-18 BENETTON TREVISO
Saturday 12th December 2009
NORTHAMPTON Saints survived a big first-half scare before they overcame a determined Benetton Treviso side at Franklin’s Gardens with a second-half try burst which kept them hot on the heels of Pool 1 leaders Munster.
Flanker Benjamin Vermaak got the game off to the perfect start for the Italians when he went over for the opening try after just five minutes.
Saints responded with a Shane Geraghty penalty after 12 minutes but South African-born fly-half Marius Goosen slotted a drop goal for Treviso in the 17th minute to restore their seven-point lead.
Geraghty and Treviso kicker Tobias Botes, missed penalty kicks and Goosen clipped over a second drop-goal to extend the visitors’ lead.
But Saints hit back with a try from England full-back Ben Foden just before half-time and when Joe Ansbro added a second try just after the break, the home side hit their stride.
And with Treviso hanging on, winger Chris Ashton ran in two tries in seven minutes to take his tally to seven in his last three starts to wrap the game up for Northampton inside 53 minutes.
T: Ansbro, Foden, Ashton 2
C: Geraghty 2
P: Geraghty, Myler
GLASGOW WARRIORS 33-11 GLOUCESTER
FIRHILL ARENA – Friday 11th December 2009
MAGNER’S LEAGUE leaders Glasgow Warriors kept their Heineken Cup quarter-final hopes alive with a thoroughly convincing 33-11 Pool 2 home win over Gloucester at Firhill, outscoring the Cherry and Whites by two tries to one on the night.
Former Scotland fly-half Dan Parks kept the scoreboard ticking over for Glasgow with an assured kicking display while two tries in five minutes in the latter stages of the first half gave them a crucial 27-11 lead at the break.
Outside centre Max Evans grabbed the home side’s first try with 32 minutes gone after a 22nd minute Charlie Sharples try for Gloucester had been the lone interruption in a kicking duel between Parks and Gloucester opposite number Nicky Robinson.
Four successful penalties from the Glasgow fly-half and two replies from Robinson had seen the home team move 12-6 in front before Sharples struck on 22 minutes.
By half-time, however, Gloucester were 27-11 adrift thanks to a stunning touchdown from Glasgow’s Argentinean full-back Bernardo Stortoni, who danced over unopposed after a finely-judged cut-out pass from Parks, who then added the extras, split the Gloucester defence.
From then on, Glasgow never looked in danger of letting their commanding lead slip and two Parks penalties proved enough to effectively end Gloucester’s chances of making the last eight.
T: T Evans, Stortoni
P: Parks 7
P: Robinson 2
BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE 49-13 NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS
PARC DES SPORTS AGUILERA – Sunday 13th December 2009
BIARRITZ Olympique already have one foot in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals after a 49-13 bonus-point home win over outclassed and outgunned Newport Gwent Dragons maintained their 100 per cent record in the competition this season and gave them a massive nine-point cushion at the top of the Pool 2 table.
The Basque side dominated the forward exchanges at the set-piece and breakdown and their back division produced some top-quality finishing to notch five tries, handing the Dragons their heaviest ever defeat in European competition.
Centre Tom Riley scored a second-half consolation touchdown for the visitors but the damage was already done after Biarritz came out of the traps fast to tear the Dragons, who had two men – Hugh Gustafson and Grant Webb - sin-binned in the first half – apart in a first half which was virtually one-way traffic.
Biarritz opened their account with an 18th minute penalty try and they added touchdowns from skipper and scrum-half Dimitri Yashvili, wing Takudzwa Ngwenya, replacement centre Valentin Courrent and a brace from England full-back Iain Balshaw before the finish.
VIADANA 7-62 OSPREYS
STADIO IL GIGLIO – Saturday 12th December 2009
THE OSPREYS hit top spot in Pool 3 with a convincing bonus-point triumph over Viadana, tucking a bonus-point win in the bank inside 33 minutes after rattling up first-half tries from Alun Wyn Jones, Nikki Walker, Jerry Collins and Ricky Januarie in Northern Italy.
After the break, the visitors kept their foot on the gas with Richard Hibbard adding a brace of scores and Tommy Bowe and Gareth Owen grabbing one apiece to compete the one-way traffic.
The Ospreys were without a glut of experienced stars with regular skipper Ryan Jones, Mike Phillips, Shane Williams, Lee Byrne, Adam Jones and James Hook all sidelined.
But their biggest problem lay at scrum-half with Mike Phillips, Rees Williams and Tom Isaacs all out injured and the unregistered Jamie Nutbrown not yet fit either, prompting the Welsh region snapped up Springbok Januarie on a short-term loan and he made his European debut after just one training session.
Welshman Gavin Quinnell crossed the Ospreys line for the hosts but it only proved to be a consolation score for the Italian minnows.
T: Walker, Collins, Hibbard, Januarie, Wyn Jones, Bowe, Owen
C: Biggar 8
P: Biggar 2
ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE 40-30 LEICESTER TIGERS
STADE MARCEL MICHELIN – Sunday 13th December 2009
RELIEVED Clermont Auvergne, who looked to be cruising to a Pool 3 victory over Leicester Tigers at one stage, came out on top in 70-point Heineken Cup classic in the Parc Marcel Michelin but only after they had extinguished a stunning second-half fight-back from the visitors.
Brock James opened the scoring in the second minute with Toby Flood replying for the Tigers before back-rower Alex Lapandry grabbed the first try for Clermont in the tenth minute.
Flood then snatched a 23rd minute penalty against the run of play, which triggered a response from Clermont in the shape of a second try from wing Napolioni Vonowalle-Nalaga, converted by James, before Flood kept Leicester alive with another penalty.
But by half-time, full-back Antony Floch’s drop-goal and a second try from Nalaga had the French side in the box seat at half-time.
James extended their lead five minutes after the break with a penalty and Clermont had a bonus point and, it appeared, the match in the bank on the hour when scrum–half Morgan Parra scampered over a try with James added the conversion.
But Leicester had other ideas and they hit back with three tries, two of them converted, in a ten-minute spell from centre Anthony Allen, fly-half Flood and Jeremy Staunton but Clermont lock Jamie Cudmore grabbed the telling touchdown for the home side in that hectic phase of the contest and while Leicester piled on the pressure score for the remainder of the match, they were unable to make any more inroads into Clermont’s ten-point cushion.
ULSTER 23-13 STADE FRANÇAIS
RAVENHILL – Saturday 12th December 2009
ULSTER blew the Pool 4 qualifying race wide open with a comprehensive 23-13 win over previously unbeaten Stade Français at Ravenhill.
Tries from hooker Nigel Brady and wing Simon Danielli, along with 13 points from the boot of man-of-the-match Ian Humphreys, gave the hosts their second win of the pool stages.
Stade rarely threatened throughout the entire 80 minutes and could only muster a brace of penalties from Lionel Beauxis and a late converted try from replacement wing Julien Arias.
Former Leicester fly-half Humphreys was at the heart of Ulster’s positive approach, as was Ireland and Lions flanker Stephen Ferris who was highly visible in both attack and defence.
Brady crossed for the game’s opening try with a quarter of the match played as Ulster ignored the fear factor of being turned over and attacked from deep in their own territory. Humphreys added the conversion to go with an earlier penalty as Ulster moved 10-3 in front.
The two outside-halves then traded penalties before the half-time interval to give Ulster at 13-6 advantage at the break.
They soon increased that lead as a third penalty from Humphreys with 46 minutes gone was followed by their second try of the afternoon when Stephen Ferris drew two tacklers 30 metres out before feeding Danielli for another well-taken score and Humphreys again converted.
Julian Arias’ late intervention gave Stade some hope with six minutes to go but Noel Oelschig’s 78th-minute penalty miss meant the Parisians flew home empty-handed.
T: Danielli, Brady
C: Humphreys 2
P Humphreys 3
P: Beauxis 2
BATH RUGBY 16-9 EDINBURGH
RECREATION GROUND – Sunday 13th December 2009
BATH, who have been finding home wins hard to come by in any competition this season, grabbed a Heineken Cup Pool 4 quarter-final lifeline by holding on under severe pressure at the end of an entertaining contest to chalk up a sorely-needed 16-9 victory over Edinburgh at The Rec.
The home side, who scored all of their points in the opening quarter, notched two first-half tries with South African number eight Luke Watson collecting the man-of-the-match plaudits.
Hooker Pieter Dixon, who came into the side at the last minute when England and British & Irish Lions hooker Lee Mears dropped out, barged his way over in the right corner after only three minutes to give the home side the perfect start.
A Nicky Little penalty three minutes later then gave the home side an 8-0 lead, which Edinburgh skipper Chris Paterson cut to two points with two inch-perfect penalties.
But wing Michael Stephenson finished off a patient build-up from Bath to make it 13-6 before Paterson again took a bite out of their lead with a penalty.
Battling Edinburgh, watched by Scotland head coach and former Bath star Andy Robinson, missed chance to grab the lead when the home defence hunted down centre Ben Cairns after he intercepted a Michael Claassens pass and looked set to score.
Eight minutes from time, a long-range Little penalty gave Bath more breathing space and they needed it to hold out under ferocious late pressure from the Scots, who threw the kitchen sink at the home side in the final minutes knowing a converted try would have earned them a draw.
But Bath’s organised and tenacious defence held out to set up a fascinating return clash in Edinburgh which Bath must also win to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.
T: Dixon, Stephenson
P: Little 2
P: Paterson 3
CARDIFF BLUES 15-9 TOULOUSE
CARDIFF CITY STADIUM – Saturday 12th December 2009
FULL-BACK Ben Blair kicked 12 points in a solid win over European aristocrats Toulouse to propel Cardiff Blues back into the Pool 2 quarter-final race in the Cardiff City Stadium
Blair landed four penalties and, while Wales and Lions wing Leigh Halfpenny added a crucial fifth kick two minutes from time, the Blues needed a late catch and clearance from Blair to seal their win with Toulouse going for broke in the final minutes.
Florian Fritz, Frederic Michalak and David Skrela all struck penalties for Toulouse but a raft of handling errors saw the French giants slip to their first Heineken Cup defeat of the current campaign.
Cardiff led 6-0 at half-time through two Blair penalties, riding their luck as Toulouse’s all-star French back-line misfired in the cold.
The Blues lost some edge in attack when Tom Shanklin left the field mid-way through the first half but Toulouse were unable to make possession count and Blair kicked Cardiff into a 9-0 lead four minutes into the second half.
Fritz and Blair exchanged further kicks in a game of precious few scoring opportunities before Michalak and replacement Skrela set up a tense final ten minutes with three points separating the teams.
But Fritz missed a chance to level it up, Halfpenny took full advantage and Blair’s composure made sure Toulouse had to settle for a losing bonus-point.
P: Blair 4, Halfpenny
P: Fritz, Michalak
HARLEQUINS 19-29 SALE SHARKS
THE STOOP – Sunday 13th December 2009
SALE Sharks kept their Heineken Cup quarter-final hopes just about alive with an impressive bonus-point win over last season’s beaten quarter-finalists Harlequins, who now need a miracle to make the knockout stages this season, at The Stoop.
Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel finished off a fine eighth-minute counter-attack from deep sparked by full-back Nick MacLeod to give the Sharks a flying start with fly-half Charlie Hodgson converting and he added the extras again two minutes later after Macleod was sent over for their second try by hooker Neil Briggs.
Shell-shocked Quins responded with a brilliant 18th-minute solo score from fly-half Nick Evans, who gathered his own chip ahead on the Sale 22 and crashed through Macleod’s despairing last-ditch tackle for a try which he converted himself.
But determined Sale responded immediately, with a try from open-side Dave Seymour and Hodgson’s conversion giving the visitors a 21-7 lead which took some more wind out of Quins’ sails.
They rallied again, however, with an unconverted try from England wing David Strettle before Hodgson clipped over a penalty to send Sale in 24-12 up at the interval.
Quins made a better fist of the second half, notching a try from number eight Nick Easter and Evans’ conversion cut Sale’s lead to five points, but the promised grandstand finish never materialised and Sale had the game sewn up in the 50th minute when Ben Cohen claimed the bonus-point try for the visitors with Hodgson converting.
SCARLETS 7-32 LEINSTER
PARC Y SCARLETS – Saturday 12th December 2009
HEINEKEN Cup holders Leinster underlined their determination to hang on to the trophy they won for the first time in May with a four-try, bonus-point win over the previously unbeaten Scarlets to go to the top of the Pool 6.
Leinster were imperious during a first-half blitz that produced three tries and effectively ended the game as a contest after just half an hour.
After that it was a case of damage limitation for the Scarlets, and just a matter of time before Leinster recorded their bonus point.
Ireland wing Shane Horgan put Brian O’Driscoll’s men on the right track with a blistering score inside four minutes and former Bath fly-half Shaun Berne and Ireland and British Lions number eight Jamie Heaslip did the rest.
Heaslip, voted man of the match, led the Leinster charge with a hand in three of his side’s four tries while Berne pulled the strings behind a dominant pack and kicked his goals.
Leinster’s win left them level on points London Irish, who beat them in Dublin in a tense Round 1 clash in October, with ten points apiece.
T: Berne, O'Brien, D'Arcy, Horgan
C: Berne 3
P: Berne 2
BRIVE 3-36 LONDON IRISH
STADIUM MUNICIPAL - Saturday 12th December 2009
UP-AND-COMING Exiles wing Tom Homer grabbed a try double in an impressive five-try, 36-3 bonus-point rout of under-strength Brive, who left out all of their English contingent, to keep London Irish’s Heineken Cup Pool 6 quarter-final bid on the boil.
Fly-half Chris Malone was the Exiles’ hero with a 14-point tally, which included the fourth-minute try that got Irish off to a flier, three conversions and penalty.
Homer's double put the seal on the Exiles’ victory after England open-side Steffon Armitage and fellow back-rower Richard Thorpe both touched down to underline the visitors’ supremacy in all departments.
But both sides could pay a price for their parts in a bad-tempered final quarter which saw Brive’s replacement prop Guillaume Ribes sent off for throwing a punch at Exiles hooker Danie Coetzee before the South African hooker and opposite number Jean-Philippe Bonrepaux were sin-binned for fighting.
PERPIGNAN 29 - 13 NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
STADE AIME GIRAL 16th October 2009
PERPIGNAN, surprisingly beaten by Italian minnows Benetton Treviso in Round 1, brought Northampton Saints crashing back down to earth after their Munster heroics in the Stade Aime Giral, where the French heavyweights cruised to a 29-13 win to take control of Pool 1.
Beaten just twice at home in 28 Heineken Cup outings, Perpignan led early on courtesy of a Jerome Porical penalty and they stretched their lead to 10-0 in the 15th minute when referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try against Saints for repeatedly collapsing a scrum in front of their own line.
Porical and Shane Geraghty exchanged penalties to take it to 13-3 before Saints wing Chris Ashton chased his own 26th minute kick to score an unconverted try, closing the gap to 13-8.
But, just before half time. Julien Laharrague kick split Northampton's defence and Maxime Mermoz sent David Marty over from 40 metres out to give Perpignan a 20-8 half-time lead.
Desperate Northampton defence after the break kept the Saints alive and when r Ashton and Jon Clarke combined with Bruce Reihana to set up a try for replacement prop Mujati, a fight-back looked on.
But Geraghty was again off-target with the conversion and three more penalties from the accurate Porical sealed a comfortable win for Perpignan.
T: Pen, Marty
C: Porical 2
P: Porical 5
T: Ashton, Mujati
MUNSTER 41 – 10 BENETTON TREVISO
THOMOND PARK 17th October 2009
MUNSTER clambered back into the Pool 1 reckoning with a comfortable 41-10 win over Benetton Treviso, but they were given the mother and father of all first-half frights by the Italians, who took a 10-0 lead early on.
Bolstered by their shock home Round 1 win over Perpignan, Treviso had the audacity to run in unconverted tries from Brendan Williams and Andy Vilk before Munster reacted to the wake-up call.
By half-time, the home side had edged 12-10 in front, courtesy of tries from man of the match Paul Warwick and replacement wing Ian Dowling with Ronan O’Gara converting Warwick’s touchdown.
In the second half, normal Thomond Park service was with number eight Denis Leamy, hooker Denis Fogarty, Lions open-side David Wallace touching down before
Dowling grabbed his second score and Springbok centre Jean de Villiers put the finishing touch on a powerful second-half display.
T: Warwick, Dowling 2, Leamy, Fogarty Wallace, De Villiers
C: O’Gara 3
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS 22 - 14 GLASGOW WARRIORS
RODNEY PARADE – 16th, October 2009
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons, narrowly beaten at Gloucester in Round 1, ran in three tries to haul themselves back into the Pool 2 qualifying race with a 22-14 win over Glasgow Warriors at Rodney Parade.
The night had started poorly for both fly-halves with penalty misses from Dragons’ James Arlidge and Dan Parks inside the first seven minutes of an at-times scrappy contest.
The Dragons opened up with a pushover try from lock Adam Davis, converted by Arlidge to take a 7-0 lead, but Glasgow number eight Johnny Beattie strolled over from 20 metres out in the 24th minute with Parks converting to level it up.
Arlidge clipped over a 25-metre drop-goal in the 31st minute to give the Dragons into a 10-7 lead and Parks missed a chance to cancel that out when he missed a penalty from 35 metres out.
And by half-time, the Dragons were firmly in the driving seat after they grabbed two tries in three minutes.
First, skipper Luke Charteris finished off a sweeping move down the Dragons right, touching down an unconverted 38th minute try in the corner to give the home side a 15-7 lead.
And two minutes later, full-back Martyn Thomas outstripped the Glasgow defence from the halfway line to score next to the posts with Arlidge converting to send the Dragons in 22-7 up at the interval.
Replacement loose-head Kevin Tkachuk burrowed over for a second Warriors try in the 56th minute and Parks clipped over the conversion but the Dragons stayed in control to the extent that a missed Parks penalty in stoppage-time denied Glasgow even the scant consolation of a losing bonus point.
Newport Gwent Dragons
T: Jones, Charteris, Thomas
C: Arlidge 2
T: Beattie, Tkachuk
C: Parks 2
BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE 42 – 15 GLOUCESTER RUGBY
PARC DES SPORTS AGUILERA 17th October 2009
GLOUCESTER’S chances of making the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup look slim after they crashed to a hefty 42-15 defeat by Biarritz Olympique, who have emerged from the first two rounds in pole position in Pool 2.
Tom Voyce and Jake Boer touched won in the second half to earn the Cherry and Whites some respectability but they had no answer to the pace of power of US Eagles Test winger, who set up his side’s win with a stunning try hat-trick.
Ngwenya grabbed his first try in the 33rd minute while Gloucester open-side Andy Hazell was in the sin bin, stretching Biarritz’s lead from 9-3, courtesy of Dimitri Yashvili’s three penalties to one from Nicky Robinson, and he grabbed his second inside six minutes later to ease the French side into a 21-3 half-time lead.
Early in the second half, Ngwenya completed his hat-trick to give Biarritz a 25-point cushion, effectively killing the tie off by the 49th minute.
Gloucester then rang the changes to conjure up an unconverted try from Tom Voyce, cutting the deficit to 28-8 but Biarritz had the bonus point in the bank in the 61st minute, when former Wasps centre Ayoola Erinle scored with Yachvili’s conversion stretching the home side into a 35-8 lead.
Gloucester’s replacement flanker Jake Boer picked up and dived over for a 67th minute try with Burns adding the conversion, but replacement Valentin Courrent touched down Biarritz’s fifth try to seal an al-too easy win for the home side.
T: Ngwenya 3, Erinle, Courrent
C: Yashvili 4
P: Yashvili 3
VIADANA 11 – LEICESTER TIGERS 46
STADIO LUIGI ZAFFANELLA – 17th October 2009
LEICESTER Tigers, held at home by the Ospreys in Round 1, got their Heineken Cup Pool 3 campaign back on track in Italy with a comprehensive win over Viadana, thanks to a try hat-trick from stand-in full-back Scott Hamilton and touchdowns from wing Johne Murphy, blind-side Tom Croft, wing Lucas Amorosino and a penalty try.
Viadana’s chances of making history with their first win in Europe at the 14th attempt got off to an inauspicious start when Jeremy Staunton kicked the Tigers ahead in the fifth minute and when Johne Murphy touched down the writing was already on the wall for the hosts.
Stand-off Pierre Hola got the home side on the scoreboard with a penalty and the Italians were back on terms when cross-kick set up Kaine Robertson for a try which Hola converted.
That fired Leicester up and they hit back with tries from Hamilton and Croft before half-time to lead 22-8.
Hola cut the Tigers’ lead to 22-11 with a penalty but Leicester responded again when number eight Jordan Crane was sin-binned in the 63rd minute.
In the end, Leicester eased to an emphatic victory with two late scores from Hamilton, one from the lively Amorosino and a late penalty try.
P: Hola 2
T: Hamilton 3, Murphy, Croft, Amorisino, Pen
C: Staunton 2, Twelvetrees 2
OSPREYS 25-24 CLERMONT AUVERGNE
LIBERTY STADIUM 18th October 2009
THE Ospreys retained their unbeaten record to stay in the Pool 3 qualifying race after they added four points from a nail-biting 25-24 win home over Clermont Auvergne to the two they collected in a 32-32 draw with Leicester Tigers at Welford Road a week earlier.
But it could have been so much easier against the crack French side as the Welsh outfit raced into a 19-point half-time lead and then found themselves 24-22 down midway through the second half before a 42-metre penalty from stand-off Dan Biggar grabbed them a vital win.
James Hook sparked the Ospreys off with an early drop-goal with Tommy Bowe scoring the home side’s first try before Brock James responded with a drop-goal for the visitors.
Ospreys skipper Ryan Jones then charged over from a close range scrum after James had knocked on and when Clermont lock Thibaud Privat was yellow-carded, Davis piled on the agony for the French side just before half-time with the home side’s third touchdown.
Clermont, though, came out with all guns blazing after the break to score three tries in 12 minutes to get their noses in front for the first time in the contest.
Benoit Baby, replacement prop Thomas Domingo and flanker Alexandre Lapandry all touched down with James converting all three tries before the TMO let the Ospreys off the hook, ruling that Napolioni Nalaga had been kept out in the corner by Shane Williams and Alun-Wyn Jones.
By then, Biggar had kicked Ospreys back in front and they hung on to chalk up a valuable victory ahead of their double-header date with Viadana in December.
T: Bowe, Davis, Jones
C: Biggar 2
EDINBURGH RUGBY 17- 13 ULSTER RUGBY
MURRAYFIELD 17th October 2009
PHIL Godman resurrected Edinburgh’s Heineken Cup Pool 4 qualifying campaign with a four penalties to steer his side to a crucial victory over Ulster at Murrayfield, kicking 12 points which included the conversion to Tim Visser’s second-half try.
Ulster led 13-6 early in the second half but Edinburgh’s set-piece dominance provided the foundations for a spirited fight-back.
In what was a game of two-halves, Ulster cancelled out Godman’s early efforts with a try by wing Timoci Nagusa.
The Fijian picked up from a ruck and darted through route one as Edinburgh were caught out-numbered at the breakdown. Ian Humphreys landed the conversion and two further penalties either side of half-time.
However the final half hour was one-way traffic as Edinburgh rallied. Nick De Luca blew a scoring chance but Visser got over in the 65th minute to finish a sweeping move, giving Edinburgh a 14-13 lead.
Visser should have settled the tie but it was left to Godman to settle it with his fourth successful penalty in the final minute.
P: Godman 4
P: Humphries 2
BATH RUGBY 27 – 29 STADE FRANÇAIS
THE RECREATION GROUND 18th October 2009
FORMER Leicester Tigers scrum-half Julien Dupuy, who dumped Bath out of last season’s Heineken Cup at the quarter-final stage in the Walkers’ Stadium, has all but killed off Bath’s chances of making the knockout stages this season.
Dupuy broke Bath’s hearts again at The Rec, kicking the last-gasp penalty which condemned Bath, who had already lost to Ulster in Belfast in Round 1, to a second successive defeat and bottom place in the pool table.
Bath, playing adventurous rugby, looked the more likely winners for much of an attractive contest which saw fly-half Nicky Little and outside centre Matt Carraro score tries after Didier Beauxis had kicked Stade into an early lead with a long-range drop-goal.
Little added a further 17 points with the boot to help the home side take a 21-12 into the break and when they were 27-21 with four minutes to go, they looked home and dry until former Newcastle wing Ollie Phillips rescued Stade with a superb try.
Dupuy missed the conversion but there was still time for him to win the game and the man-of-the-match plaudits when replacement lock Peter Short was penalised for failing to roll away at a ruck.
T: Little, Carraro
P: Little 5
P: Dupuy 7
SALE SHARKS 27 – 26 CARDIFF BLUES
EDGELEY PARK - 16th October 2009
SALE Sharks bounced back from their Round 1 defeat in Toulouse to fight their way back into the qualifying reckoning with a tight three-tries-to-two home win over Cardiff Blues, who beat Harlequins at home in their opening pool game.
Cardiff, who left Stockport with the scant consolation of a losing bonus point, dominated the first 30 minutes but then lost their grip on the match as Sale, with England fly-half Charlie Hodgson back after recovering from a toe injury, responded.
With 30 minutes gone, Cardiff were 9-3 ahead, thanks to two Ben Blair penalties and one from Leigh Halfpenny with Hodgson replying for Sale, who then grabbed the game’s first try when Fijian number eight Sisaro Koyamaibole’s 33rd minute touchdown was confirmed by the TMO.
Hodgson converted to make it 10-9 and Sale then grabbed the initiative with a second converted try from skipper Dean Schofield before half-time as Cardiff’s defence struggled with their number eight Andy Powell cooling his heels in the sin bin.
Leading 17-9, Sale started the second half looking to put the game to bed and they notched their third touchdown through James Gaskell in the 42nd minute with Hodgson adding the conversion to stretch their cushion to 24-9.
Powell, back in the action, scored for Cardiff in the 49th minute with Blair converting to haul the Blues back to an eight-point deficit and a Blair penalty in the 65th minute started to make the home side jittery.
Hodgson steadied their nerves with a drop goal four minutes later to make sure that Robin Sowden-Taylor’s 77th minute try and Blair’s conversion were not enough to see Cardiff snatch victory away from Sale at the death.
T: Koyamaibole, Schofield, Gaskell
C: Hodgson 3
T: Powell, Sowden-Taylor
C: Blair 2
P: Blair 3, Halfpenny
HARLEQUINS 19 – 23 TOULOUSE
TWICKENHAM STOOP 17th October 2009
TOULOUSE underlined their peerless Heineken Cup pedigree to take control of Pool 5 at The Stoop, where they battled back from a 14-0 half-time deficit to run out 23-19 winners over Harlequins, who now look out of the running for a quarter-final place.
Two penalties from Nick Evans in the opening quarter gave the home side a great start and then England and Lions wing Ugo Monye scored a magnificent try.
Evans hit the post with the conversion but he made amends with his third penalty to send Quins in at the interval seemingly in full control.
Toulouse, though, had other ideas and wing Yves Donguy took full advantage of poor defending to touch down with Jean-Baptiste Elissalde added the conversion and the French side was back on terms when number eight Shaun Sowerby was driven over from a close range with Elissalde again adding the extras.
Determined Quins hit back with a second try from Monye to go 19-14 ahead but Elissalde cut that to 19-17 with his third successful penalty strike before he made way for Freddy Michalak.
Michalak immediately kicked Toulouse into a 20-19 lead and he then saw a 50-metre drop-goal attempt bounce back off the crossbar before the final nail was hammered into Quins’ coffin by replacement centre Florian Fritz, who cracked over the clinching penalty from a metre inside his own half.
LONDON IRISH 25-27 SCARLETS
MADESKI STADIUM 17th October 2009
SAMOAN try machine Sailosi Tagicakibau notched his seventh touchdown in seven games this season with a 71st minute interception score but that was not enough to stop London Irish sliding to a Pool 6 defeat by the Scarlets in the Madejski Stadium.
Irish got their noses in front from their first attack, Lamb spinning the ball wide to Danaher, who had a clear run to the line for an unconverted try and they extended their lead to 8-0 in the 10th minute with a Lamb drop-goal.
But the Scarlets hit back inside a minute, snatching a try when full-back Daniel Evans sliced through a disorganised home defence with Stephen Jones converting.
Lamb stretched the Exiles’ lead to 11-7 with a 17th minute penalty, but Jones pegged that back to a point before a scintillating spell which saw both sides score tries inside three minutes.
First, Seveali’i touched down with Lamb converting to send Irish into an 18-10 lead and then the visitors hit back through Mark Jones with Stephen Jones unable to slot the touchline conversion.
Irish ended the first half with wing Tom Homer in the sin bin for a high tackle on Mark Jones and the sides sent in all-square at 18-18 after Stephen Jones slotted a stoppage-time penalty.
Stephen Jones gave the Scarlets the lead for the first time in the 53rd minute with a penalty and he missed a chance to double his side‘s lead 10 minutes later, when a long-range penalty came back off the right-hand post.
Irish then snatched what looked like the critical score with an 85-metre interception try from Tagicakibau, who picked off a pass from Lee Williams to Evans and streaked away to score under the posts, making the conversion easy for Lamb.
Stephen Jones pulled it back to 25-24 with a 71st minute penalty and he was on target again in the 77th minute to put the Scarlets back in front with time running out fast for the Exiles.
T: Danaher, Seveali’i, Tagicakibau
C: Lamb 2
T: Evans, M Jones
C: S Jones
P: S Jones 5
BRIVE 13 – 36 LEINSTER
STADIUM MUNICIPAL 17th October 2009
LEINSTER got their Heineken Cup defence back on track with a win over Brive, but they may rue missing out on the bonus point after only scoring three tries against their French hosts.
Replacement back-rower Kevin McLaughlin grabbed two scores in the 68th and 79th minutes but they came a long time after Rob Kearney touched down the first in the 14th minute.
Jonathan Sexton had already scored 19 points including five penalties and two conversions as the young fly-half held the edge over England's Goode.
Goode had booted Brive into a third minute lead but Leinster never relinquished the lead once they got it, thanks to Sexton's reliability with the boot.
The Ireland fly-half scored four penalties to hand the Irish province a commanding 19-6 half-time lead, which had Brive to ruing their own ill-discipline.
Sexton added a fifth penalty but Leinster were briefly pegged back when Gerhard Vosloo touched down in the 66th minute.
But the visitors finished strongly and McLaughlin touched down twice to seal a valuable win.
P: Goode 2
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 31 – 27 MUNSTER
FRANKLINS GARDENS 10th October 2009
NORTHAMPTON Saints pulled off the biggest opening weekend shock for years in their 50th outing in Europe’s’ top-tier club competition with a stunning 31-27 win over Heineken Cup heavyweights Munster in front of an enthralled crowd at Franklin’s Gardens.
Saints’ fly-half Shame Geraghty, upped his claim for an England Autumn Test series recall by scoring 21 of Northampton’s points in a nail-biting triumph over the 2006 and 2008 champions to walk away with the man-of-the-match plaudits.
On-form Geraghty kicked two conversions and four penalties and conjured up a try out of nothing, suckering the Munster defence with a dart over from 15 metres out at the end of the first half to give Northampton a deserved 21-14 interval lead.
By the end, two Chris Ashton tries and Geraghty’s superb goal-kicking had condemned star-studded pool favourites Munster, who replied tries from Tomas O’Leary and David Wallace, a conversion and four penalties from Ronan O’Gara and a Paul Warwick drop-goal to an unexpected defeat.
T: Ashton 2, Geraghty
C: Geraghty 2
P: Geraghty 4
T: O’ Leary, Wallace
P: O’Gara 4
BENETTON TREVISO 9 – 8 PERPIGNAN
STADIO COMUNALE DI MONIGO 10th October 2009
ITALIAN champions Benetton Treviso stunned French league champions Perpignan to join Northampton at the top of the pool table after a heart-stopping one-point home win over Perpignan.
Treviso held on for a 9-8 victory – their first win for four years in the Heineken Cup – over the beaten 2004 finalists, who have won just once in the French Top 14 this season in front of a modest, but ecstatic crowd.
Perpignan, who had been grouped with the Italian side for the last three years in the Heineken Cup’s pool stages, had beaten Treviso at every time of asking, but three penalties from South African Marius Goosen made sure the Catalan side would not make it seven on the bounce. Jérôme Porical kicked a penalty and notched a late try for the visitors, but the Treviso defence held out under immense pressure as the clock ticked down.
P: Goosen 3
GLOUCESTER 19 – 17 NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS
KINGSHOLM 9th October 2009
WALES fly-half Nicky Robinson snatched a tight and unconvincing 19-17 win for Gloucester over Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingsholm, where a relieved home crowd almost saw the spirited Welsh side beat an English club in the competition for the first time in the Heineken Cup.
Paul Turner’s men out-scored their Guinness Premiership rivals by two tries to one but Robinson’s boot, which dished up 12 points – four penalties and a conversion, including a late match-clinching three-pointer - made sure the Cherry and Whites were tied at the top of the pool with Biarritz after the opening round of matches.
Akapusi Qera grabbed Gloucester’s first-half try but the Dragons hit back with converted tries from fly-half James Arlidge and James Bearman to lead 14-7.
Three Robinson penalties then gave Gloucester the lead for the second time in the match, but the Dragons were 17-16 ahead and looking likely winners until Robinson grabbed the winning penalty at the death.
P: Robinson 4
Newport Gwent Dragons
T: Arlidge, Bearman
C: Arlidge 2
GLASGOW WARRIORS 18-22 BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE
FIRHIIL ARENA 10th October 2009
BIARRITZ Olympique served notice that they intend to be a major force in this year’s Heineken Cup competition after a couple of years among the makeweights with a 22-18 away win over Glasgow Warriors at Firhill.
England and former Sale flanker Magnus Lund scored the crucial try for the Basque side eight minutes into the second half of what was otherwise a kicking dual between Glasgow’s Scotland fly-half Dan Parks and Biarritz’s France scrum-half Dimitri Yashvilli.
In a contest watched by a poor crowd and finely poised at 12-12 at the interval, Parks notched all of Glasgow’s points with five penalties and a drop-goal while Yachvili kicked 11 points to add to drop-goals from Marcelo Bosch and Damien Traille.
P: Parks 5
P: Yashvilli 3
DG: Bosch, Traille
CLERMONT AUVERGNE 36 – 18 VIADANA
STADE MARCEL MICHELIN 10th October 2009
FRENCH heavyweights Clermont Auvergne scored five tries in a predictable bonus-point home win over Italian minnows and likely Pool 3 whipping boys Viadana to finish the opening weekend of the Heineken Cup at the top of Pool 3, two points ahead of Leicester.
Man of the match Seremaïa Bai got Clermont off to a flying start with a try converted by France scrum-half Morgan Parra, former Saracens full-back Brent Russell then weighed in two tries and lock Thibaud Privat securing the home side’s bonus point with the fourth touchdown.
Viadana fly-half Pierre Hola and full-back Garry Law kicked three penalties apiece for the Italians, who trailed 17-9 at the break.
T: Bai, Russell 2, Privat, Debaty
C: Parra 3, James
P: Hola 3, Law 3
LEICESTERS TIGERS 32 – 32 OSPREYS
WELFORD ROAD 11th October 2009
LEICESTER Tigers fans have a new cult hero after centre Billy Twelvetrees, who had only been told he would be starting in place of unwell England Dan Hipkiss 12 minutes before kick-off, inspired the Welford Road club’s fight-back in a thrilling, all-action 32-32 Pool 3 draw with the Ospreys.
Last season’s beaten finalists, playing in front of a hugely partisan 20,000 home crowd looked dead and buried after British Lion and IRB world player of the year Shane Williams and Tommy Bowe had scored tries to give the Welsh side an amazing 18-point lead.
In a nip-and-tuck contest which saw Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar kick 22 points, last season’s beaten finalists lived up to their fearsome reputation in Europe to bounce back from 26-8 behind after Heineken Cup debutant Twelvetrees romped for a crucial try three minutes before the interval.
The 20-year-old then converted Staunton's 76th minute try to earn the man-of-the-match award after tries from Lucas Amorosino and Staunton, added to an early score from wing Johne Murphy, earned the Tigers a try-scoring bonus point to go with two from the draw, leaving them second in the pool.
T: Murphy, Twelvetrees, Staunton, Amorosino
C: Staunton 2, Twelvetrees
P: Staunton Twelvetrees
ULSTER 26 – 12 BATH RUGBY
RAVENHILL 9th October 2009
LAST season’s beaten quarter-finalists Bath were left facing a tough uphill battle to reach the knockout stages after they went down to a tame 26-12 defeat by Ulster at Ravenhill.
The Premiership side had flanker Andy Beattie sent off for alleged illegal use of the boot at a ruck late on in a contest which was dominated by the home side in front of a big and vociferous home crowd which endured a Northern Irish downpour from start to finish.
Home fly-half Ian Humphries out-kicked opposite number Ryan Davis, clocking up two conversions, a drop-goal and three penalties for a 16-point haul against the Bath man’s four penalties in a contest where a labouring Bath never looked like crossing the whitewash.
Tries from Fijian wing Tomoci Nagusa gave Ulster the edge at half-time, which came with the home side 10-6 ahead and when former Saracens hooker Andy Kyriacou sent flanker Willie Falloon racing over under the posts in the second half, there was no way back for Bath.
T: Nagusa, Falloon
C: Humphries 2
P: Humphries 3
P: Davis 4
STADE FRANÇAIS 31 – EDINBURGH 7
STADE JEAN BOUIN 10th October 2009
STADE Français grabbed the early initiative in the Pool 4 qualifying race with a four-try, bonus-point 31-7 victory which saw the French side knock the stuffing out of Edinburgh before the hour-mark in the Stade Jean Bouin.
First-half tries from Julien Arias, Sergio Parisse, Pascal Pape and Lionel Beauxis had pre-tournament pool favourites Stade in the box seat by half-time with the Scots only able to muster a lone converted touchdown from Ben Cairns after the break.
Edinburgh, in good Magner’s League form, had arrived in Paris fancying their chances of a win in France but they ended recording a 17th defeat in their last 18 away outings in the Heineken Cup.
Stade, meanwhile, started with a bang and they had the fourth try on the board in just 29 minutes, adding four conversions from ex Biarritz and Leicester scrum-half Julien Dupuy and a lone penalty from replacement Noel Oelschig to their tally before the end of a one-sided affair.
T: Arias, Parisse, Pape, Beauxis
C: Dupuy 4
CARDIFF BLUES 20 – 6 HARLEQUINS
CARDIFF CITY STADIUM 10th October 2009
CARDIFF Blues, beaten finalists Leicester’s penalty shoot-out victim’s in last season’s semi-finals, opened their Pool 5 qualifying campaign with a 20-6 win over Harlequins in the Cardiff City Stadium, which was tighter than the score-line suggested, slotting into second spot in the pool table.
Lions wing Leigh Halfpenny sealed the Blues’ win with a late try, which killed off the English side’s stirring attempt to fight their way back into a contest which had drifted away from them after a promising start.
Two early penalties from Blues full-back Ben Blair and a reply from Quins’ fly-half Nick Evans had Cardiff 6-3 up at the break, but an early second-half try from Blues wing Tom Evans, converted by Blair, gave the home side the relative comfort of a 13-6 lead.
With 10 minutes to go, England full-back Mike Brown spilled a scoring pass on the Blues line and when Halfpenny ran on to ground Deiniol Jones’ clever kick through to grab the Blues’ second try, Quins were consigned to defeat.
T: James, Halfpenny
C: Blair 2
P: Blair 2
P: Evans 2
TOULOUSE 36 – SALE SHARKS 17
STADE MUNICIPAL 11th October 2009
HEINEKEN Cup aristocrats Toulouse romped away to the perfect start in the Pool 5 qualification race with an easy five-try, 36-17 win over a heavily depleted and completely outclassed Sale Sharks line-up in Le Stadium in front of the opening weekend’s biggest crowd.
So easy was Toulouse’s win that wing Vincent Clerc, now the competition’s record try-scorer with 30 tries after overtaking ex-Cardiff and Llanelli star Dafydd James’ 28-try benchmark, had two touchdowns under his belt inside 28 minutes.
Full-back Maxime Medard had already scored to get Toulouse up and running and Medard later set up Yves Donguy, who bagged a brace, for the bonus-point try two minutes into the second half.
Spirited Sale fought hard and they grabbed late second-half consolation tries through makeshift lock Rob O'Donnell and former England wing Ben Cohen, but it was too little, too late for the Sharks.
T: Medard, Clerc 2, Donguy 2
C: Elissalde 3, Michalak
LEINSTER 9 – 12 LONDON IRISH
ROYAL DUBLIN SHOWGROUND 9th October 2009
LONDON Irish matched Northampton Saint’s Heineken Cup opening weekend heroics with a priceless 12-9 Pool 6 win over reigning European champions Leinster in the Royal Dublin Showground, a victory which will go down as one of the most memorable away triumphs in the tournament’s history.
Exiles fly-half Ryan Lamb came off the bench to kick the dramatic 79th minute match-winning penalty after Irish had snuffed out the attacking threat posed by a Leinster side who became the first champions to lose the opening match of their title defence in six years.
Irish skipper Bob Casey, named man of the match, wreaked havoc on Leinster’s line-out and the Exiles’ on-form back row dominated the tackle area to deny the home side, which had an 18,500 crowd behind them, quick ball from start to finish.
Fly-half Jonny Sexton kicked all of the points for the home side and Exiles full-back Peter Hewat and scrum-half Paul Hodgson notched a penalty apiece before Lamb took on kicking duties to ease the Exiles home to a famous win.
P: Sexton 3
P: Hewat, Hodgson, Lamb 2
SCARLETS 24 – BRIVE 12
PARC Y SCARLETS 10th October 2009
FANCIED Brive went down to a hefty defeat in the Parc y Scarlets, where Wales and British Lions fly-half Stephen Jones win his personal kicking battle with England stand-off Andy Goode in a stodgy contest.
Jones booted 11 points, including three penalties and the conversion on Rhys Thomas' 78th minute try to give the Scarlets only their second Heineken Cup win in 13 European starts.
Lee Williams’ unconverted try gave the Scarlets the cushion of an 11-6 half-time lead which Jones stretched to 14-9 in the 53rd minute and replacement kickers Luciano Orquera, for Brive, and Rhys Priestland, for the home side, then added further penalties before Wales prop Thomas crashed over two minutes from time to seal victory for the hosts.
T: Williams, Thomas
P: Jones 3, Priestland
P: Goode 3, Orquera