Saracens soar to top of Pool One
Saracens edged two-time European Cup champions Munster 19-13 victory in an engrossing contest on Sunday to go top of Pool One.
English side Saracens avenged last weekend's defeat to two-time European Cup champions Munster with a solid 19-13 victory in an engrossing contest on Sunday to go top of Pool One.
Scoring honours, though, went to French side Toulon.
Having made heavy weather of their win against struggling English side Sale in last weekend's fixture they had no such worries back in France, trouncing the same opponents 62-0 to move five points clear in Pool Six.
Their fellow Top 14 side Castres had opened the day's proceedings with a dire display in a 10-8 home win over Scottish outfit Glasgow to move second in Pool Four, three points behind Ulster.
Saracens' victory saw them move onto 14 points, two clear of Racing Metro with Munster, who took a point with a defensive bonus, a further point behind with two games remaining.
"It was a very, very important game and this time round we did the little things really well which was crucial," said Saracens captain Steve Borthwick.
His Munster counterpart Doug Howlett took defeat graciously but said that they were far from out of contention.
"It was a hard-fought battle where defence was the dominant factor," said the former All Black, who scored his side's only try.
"There are a lot of what ifs from the game. However, we have lost the battle but not the war."
Richard Wigglesworth created Saracens try, his deft grubber kick into the corner catching the Munster defence flat-footed, which was touched down by England wing David Strettle.
Owen Farrell added the conversion to give the hosts a 10-3 lead 21 minutes into the match.
However, a loose pass by Farrell four minutes later saw centre James Downey intercept just inside Munster's half.
The former Northampton back charged down the pitch but realising he was not going to make the line, he offloaded to Howlett who scored his 10th try in the competition. Ronan O'Gara converted for 10-10.
Farrell subsequently missed two relatively simple kicks at goal and O'Gara showed him how to do it with a delightful long-range penalty with 30 minutes remaining to give Munster the lead for the first time 13-10.
However, Farrell recovered his composure in the pouring rain to kick two penalties to give the hosts a 16-13 lead.
Saracens, though, were reduced to 14 men in the 62nd minute when French referee Jerome Garces showed a yellow card to flank Will Fraser for what he adjudged a high tackle on Howlett.
The visitors, though, were unable to take advantage of that with O'Gara missing with a drop-goal and then a penalty in the unrelenting rain and with less than five minutes remaining, Farrell added another penalty.
Toulon ran rampant against Sale, who have failed to register much of a revival since former All Black coach John Mitchell took over at the end of last month, with nine tries, seven of them in the second-half.
Several of their foreign stars got in on the try feast, former Springbok Joe van Niekerk scoring two while the Armitage brothers Steffon and Delon also scored a try apiece.
France flyhalf Frederic Michalak contributed 20 points, including a try.
Castres only secured their win - their 14th successive home victory - when the visitors were reduced to 13 men with 10 minutes remaining and they scored their only try of the game through Yannick Caballero.
Glasgow, who along with Edinburgh have yet to secure a win for the Scottish sides in their eight games this season, had a chance to win it but Scotland fly-half Ruaridh Jackson's penalty hit the post.
Castres 10-8 Glasgow Warriors
Yellow cards: Tom Ryder (Glasgow Warriors), Byron McGuigan (Glasgow Warriors)
Castres: 15 Romain Teulet, 14 Paul Bonnefond, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Rémi Lamerat, 11 Marcel Garvey, 10 Rémi Tales, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Yannick Caballero, 6 Jannie Bornman, 5 Iosefa Tekori, 4 Matthias Rolland, 3 Michaël Coetzee, 2 Mathieu Bonello, 1 Mihaïta Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Karena Wihongi, 18 Saimone Taumoepeau, 19 Christophe Samson, 20 Ibrahim Diarra, 21 Thomas Sanchou, 22 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 23 Brice Dulin.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Barclay, 6 James Eddie, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Moray Low, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 George Hunter, 19 Nick Campbell, 20 Rob Harley, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Graeme Morrison, 23 Byron McGuigan.
Referee: Andrew Small (England)
Assistant referees: Tim Wigglesworth (England), Roy Maybank (England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)
Saracens 19-13 Munster
Pens: Farrell 4
Pens: O'Gara 2
Yellow card: Will Fraser (Saracens, 62)
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Kelly Brown, 7 Will Fraser, 6 George Kruis, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles.
Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Doug Howlett (capt), 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Peter O'Mahony, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 David Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Peter Butler, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Luk O'Dea.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garces (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Gérard Borreani (France)
Toulon 62-0 Sale Sharks
Tries: Orioli, Michalak, van Niekerk 2, Kubriashvili, S Armitage, D Armitage, Wulf, Smith
Cons: Michalak 6, Wilkinson
Yellow cards: Simon Shaw (Toulon), Fraser McKenzie (Sale Sharks)
Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Rudi Wulf, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Joe Van Niekerk, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Pierrick Gunther, 5 Nick Kennedy, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Sebastien Bruno, 17 Andrew Sheridan, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Jocelino Suta, 20 Mathieu Bastareaud, 21 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 22 Jonny Wilkinson, 23 Simon Shaw.
Sale Sharks: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Mark Jennings, 13 Mark Cueto, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Rob Miller, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 David Seymour, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 2 Aston Croall, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruise, 17 Vadim Cobilas, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Andy Powell, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Sam Tuitupou, 23 Charlie Amesbury.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Paul Haycock (Ireland), Brian MacNiece (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
AFP and rugby365