Habana hamstrung in Toulon win
Toulon’s14-9 win over Exeter Chiefs on Saturday was overshadowed by a serious hamstring injury to Bryan Habana.
Toulon’s narrow 14-9 win over Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday was overshadowed by a serious hamstring injury to star Springbok recruit Bryan Habana.
The South African wing’s European Cup debut was ruined as he collapsed to the ground in the 37th minute and was carried off the field.
The 30-year-old suffered a similar injury in the Rugby Championship decider against the All Blacks at Ellis Park, but Saturday’s setback seems more severe and could sideline the Springbok veteran for some time.
In other results, Saracens moved to the top of Pool Three with a 39-10 bonus-point victory over Zebre and Clermont grabbed a late bonus point in their 32-11 win over Scarlets.
Harlequins ended their losing run in style win a 32-8 bonus-point win over Racing Metro, Brian O'Driscoll was at his brilliant best, inspiring Leinster to a sensational 40-7 bonus-point victory over Northampton Saints, and Ulster ran in seven tries in their 48-0 thrashing of Treviso.
We look at all Saturday’s action!
Exeter Chiefs 9-14 Toulon
Toulon secured a magnificent seventh straight European Cup victory over English opposition with a hard-fought win over Exeter Chiefs to move top of Pool Two.
Florian Fresia's fifth minute score was the only try of the game as the defending champions edged out a battle of attrition at Sandy Park.
Exeter pushed the French stars to the limit and were rewarded for their efforts with a losing bonus point, but Toulon flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson, who endured a difficult afternoon with the boot, sealed the success as the visitors go to the summit of the pool, one point above rivals Cardiff Blues on 10 points.
Toulon had won all of their previous six meetings against English teams, but the home side got off to a flying start when Gareth Steenson put the Premiership side ahead after just three minutes.
Yet, falling behind so early was not a major problem for the defending champions, who hit back within two minutes at Sandy Park. The star-studded outfit displayed slick hands before All Black lock Ali Williams assisted prop Fresia with a simple touchdown in the right corner.
Surprisingly, Wilkinson missed the conversion to leave Toulon with a 5-3 advantage in an all-action opening period.
But the England flyhalf made no mistake in the 10th minute to nudge the French side five points clear. Yet, it was a rare successful kick from Wilkinson on a below-par afternoon with the boot as he scored with only two of his six efforts at the posts.
Steenson reduced the deficit back to two points with his second penalty before Exeter's No.10 was forced off after 20 minutes through injury.
Young Henry Slade was handed the task of lining up against Wilkinson and the 20-year-old fired Exeter ahead in the 35th minute from the far touchline.
Bryan Habana, who was making his European Cup debut, had a limited chance to shine and the South African wing pulled his hamstring as he attempted to surge through for a try.
Exeter held a slender one-point lead at half-time, but that should have been very different in the second period as Wilkinson missed three further kicks from long-range.
In the end, the World Cup winner handed over the kicking duties to Australia's Matt Giteau and he duly delivered with a 65th minute penalty to edge Toulon back in front.
Then Wilkinson got in on the act with a trademark drop-goal to seal the win with just six minutes remaining.
For Exeter Chiefs:
Pens: Steenson 2, Slade
Pens: Wilkinson, Giteau
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (captain), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Alex Brown, 19 James Hanks, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Ian Whitten.
Toulon: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (captain), 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Florian Fresia.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Virgile Bruni, 20 Rudi Wulf, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Michael Claassens, 23 Jocelino Suta.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Nigel Correll (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)
Zebre 10-39 Saracens
Saracens claimed top spot in Pool Three with a bonus-point victory over Zebre.
George Kruis, Ernst Joubert and Chris Wyles all crossed before Chris Ashton scored twice in the space of eight minutes to wrap up the victory.
Samu Vunisa claimed a late consolation score for Zebre, but, from the moment Charlie Hodgson kicked Saracens ahead in the sixth minute, the former English champions rarely looked likely to surrender the lead.
Zebre were made to pay for basic errors deep inside their own half when a knock-on handed Saracens an attacking scrum from which second row Kruis eventually crashed over from five metres out on 13 minutes.
Hodgson converted and added a second penalty before another set-piece move saw Saracens claim their second try.
No.8 Joubert stormed over from a well-worked line-out and, despite Hodgson missing the conversion from out wide, Saracens led 18-0 after 24 minutes.
Opposite number Vunisa was shown a yellow card for a professional foul moments later and Alex Goode made the most of the advantage.
The fullback mounted a counter attack and Ashton's pass handed Wyles a simple finish in the corner.
Saracens' pressure mounted and Mauro Bergamasco joined Vunisa in the sin bin to leave Zebre down to 13 men for three minutes before half-time.
Against the odds, Gonzalo Garcia kicked the first points of the second half, though Saracens still threatened. David Strettle saw his try ruled out for obstruction earlier in the move before Ashton made sure of the bonus point on 61 minutes.
The England wing then grabbed a second just moments later after good work by Strettle and Goode. Owen Farrell converted for his first points of the game.
Zebre finished the stronger, however, and, after Saracens replacement Duncan Taylor was binned for not releasing the tackled player, Vunisa stepped through a gap in midfield and galloped 50 metres for a rousing score that gave the home crowd something to cheer.
Tries: Kruis, Joubert, Wyles, Ashton 2
Cons: Hodgson 3, Farrell
Pens: Hodgson 2
Yellow cards: Samu Vunisa (Zebre, 27), Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre, 34), Duncan Taylor (Saracens, 73).
Zebre: 15 Gugliemo Palazzani, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Iannone, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Nicola Catiina, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 Marco Bortolami (captain), 4 Quintin Geledenhuys, 3 Luciano Leibson, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Michael van Vuren, 20 Emiliano Caffini, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Roberto Quartaroli, 23 Giulio Toniolatti.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Billy Vunipola, 5 George Kruis, Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Jared Saunders, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Marcelo Bosch.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Patrick Rechambert (France), Jean-Luc Rebodall (France)
TMO: Daniel Irazoqui (France)
Clermont 32-11 Scarlets
Clermont extended their remarkable unbeaten home record to 68 matches after overcoming a spirited Scarlets side at Stade Marcel-Michelin.
The home side took the lead through two early penalties from Brock James before returning Welsh international Rhys Priestland pulled the visitors back to 6-3.
Clermont dominated a scrappy first half, but their power was matched by resilient defence and it remained 6-3 going into the break.
The Scarlets’ resistance was finally broken early in the second half when Canadian lock Jamie Cudmore drove over for the first try of the game. James added the conversion.
Jordan Williams put the visitors back in touch at 13-6 with a superb penalty from the half-way line, but the power of the home side began to tell and Fijian wing Napolioni Nalaga raced away for two tries in quick succession to put the game out of sight.
All that was left for the home side was to finish off with a bonus point, but it didn't look as though it was going to emerge. Scarlets' latest Welsh international Rhodri Williams scampered over for a consolation try for the Scarlets after 78 minutes and it wasn't until the fifth minute of injury time that the home fans were able to celebrate a full house of points.
The fourth try came from replacement prop Clement Ric and Mike Delany's conversion made the scoreline look far more comfortable than it actually was.
Tries: Cudmore, Nalaga 2, Ric
Cons: James 2, Delany
Pens: James 2
Pens: Priestland 2
Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurélien Rougerie (captain), 12 Regan King, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Clément Ric, 19 Julien Pierre, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Ludovic Radoslavjevic , 22 Mike Delany, 23 Noa Nakaitaci.
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Frazier Climo, 13 Nick Reynolds, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 George Earle, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Johan Snyman, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Adam Warren,
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Martin Fox (England), Kevin Stewart (England)
Racing Metro 8-32 Harlequins
Nick Evans scored 17 points as Harlequins produced one of their finest performances in Europe and give themselves a lifeline in the Europe Cup.
The flyhalf scored the first of his team's four tries as Quins stunned Racing Metro in Nantes to claim their first win of the campaign.
Nick Easter, Charlie Walker and Karl Dickson then all followed to secure a bonus-point victory at Stade de la Beaujoire that lifts them to second in Pool Four.
Danny Care went close in the opening minutes amid a lively start by Harlequins but it was Evans who finally broke the deadlock on 18 minutes with the game's opening points.
Quins’ forwards edged forward with a series of drives before Evans spotted a gap. The flyhalf ran between Francois van der Merwe and Wenceslas Lauret before rounding fullback Juan Martin Hernandez to touch down. Evans converted his own try and then added a penalty five minutes later for an early 10-0 lead.
Matt Hopper was then denied Harlequins' second try when the video official ruled he put his foot in touch before grounding the ball under pressure from Marc Andreu.
Just two minutes later, Easter made sure with Quins' second try. Mike Brown launched an attack from half-way though the move looked to have come to a halt when he slipped on the greasy turf.
However, Care released Easter and the No.8 barged off flyhalf Benjamin Dambielle and was unstoppable from five metres out. Evans' conversion handed Harlequins a 17-0 lead after half an hour.
Racing finally awoke from their slumber and briefly threatened though struggled to break down a resilient Quins defence. Even when Evans saw a kick charged down, Walker scrambled back to clear the danger.
Racing settled for a penalty on the stroke of half-time but then rung the changes including the arrival at half-time of Jonny Sexton.
But it was Evans who claimed the first points of the second half as Quins continued where they left off in the first half.
Hernandez fumbled Care's speculative kick and Walker was on hand to take advantage. The wing gathered possession, handed off Maxime Machenaud before outpacing the covering defenders into the corner.
Sexton came close to finding a way back for Racing but his crossfield kick, following a series of drives by his forwards, eluded the fingertips of Juan Imhoff out wide.
The out-of-sorts Parisiens found a way back when Karim Ghezal's line-out take set up a drive from which Bernard Le Roux was driven over, though Sexton pushed his conversion across the posts.
Mike Phillips replaced Maxime Machenaud to make his debut for Racing but not even the British and Irish Lion’s arrival could turn his team's fortunes.
Harlequins ensured they had the final say and wrapped up a vital bonus point on the road when replacement scrumhalf Dickson completed a powerful drive by his forwards for the final score 10 minutes from time.
For Racing Metro:
Try: Le Roux
Tries: Evans, Easter, Walker, Dickson
Cons: Evans 3
Pens: Evans 2
Racing Metro: 15 Juan Martin Hernandez, 14 Benjamin Fall, 13 Fabrice Estebanez, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Benjamin Dambielle, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Francois van der Merwe, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski (captain), 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Davit Khinchagishvili, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Karim Ghezal, 20 Camille Gerondeau, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Jonny Sexton, 23 Juan Imhoff.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Harry Allen, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Nick Kennedy, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Charlie Walker.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
Northampton Saints 7-40 Leinster
Leinster took full control of Pool One with a stunning first-half display against Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens.
The Irish giants took a huge step towards the knock-out stages as they scored four unanswered tries in the opening 40 minutes to secure a bonus point before the interval.
Matt O'Connor's men played some sublime rugby in the East Midlands in blowing away their in-form opponents with six tries in all to make it three wins from three following an away victory against the Ospreys and a home success against Castes.
Luke Fitzgerald grabbed an early brace, with Jamie Heaslip and Eoin Reddan also crossing in the first period and Brian O'Driscoll following suit in the second, before Fitzgerald completed his hat-trick 10 minutes from the end.
Ian Madigan added 10 points by converting five of the six scores, with Lee Dickson Saints' solitary scorer late in the day.
O'Driscoll was at the fore as Fitzgerald gave the visitors the perfect start after less than three minutes when the veteran centre's clever grubber fell kindly for the left wing following an early mistake from Saints fullback Ken Pisi.
O'Driscoll's brilliance then set up Fitzgerald for a second score just five minutes later as his stunning through-the-legs pass gave Rob Kearney the space to put Fitzgerald in on the left once more.
Madigan added the first conversion but sent the second wide of the posts but Leinster could hardly have dreamt of a better beginning to what was expected to be their toughest test of the tournament so far.
Northampton desperately needed the next score but instead it went to Leinster as Heaslip finished off another fine move in the far right corner before touching down much closer to the posts.
The No.8 cantered over after Kearney brushed off the challenge of fellow British and Irish Lions star George North as Leinster continued to run riot.
And things got even worse for the hosts when Reddan danced through three minutes before the interval to ensure they were left needing a miraculous comeback to avoid a second defeat in three pool games this term.
Leinster did just that when the two teams met in a memorable European Cup Final three seasons ago as they overturned a 22-6 deficit to claim Europe's greatest prize in Cardiff, but a similar story was never really on the cards in the East Midlands.
Fitzgerald had a third score ruled out for a forward pass after Sean Cronin's brilliant break five minutes after the restart, before Leinster's fifth try came courtesy of O'Driscoll when he picked off Dickson's pass in between Stephen Myler and Jamie Elliot to make it 31-0 with 17 minutes left to play.
Madigan sent over the simple conversion attempt but Northampton did at least hit back with a try of their own just two minutes later as Dickson burrowed over from close-range immediately following Michael Bent's yellow card.
Leinster were keen to have the final say, though, and that they did as Fitzgerald grabbed his third try thanks to an intelligent break and inside pass from the impressive Gordon D'Arcy.
Madigan matched Stephen Myler's conversion and Leinster had hit 40 points to ensure they head into next week's clash in Dublin on an almighty high.
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Fitzgerald 3, Heaslip, Reddan, O'Driscoll
Cons: Madigan 5
Yellow card: Michael Bent (Leinster, 66)
Northampton Saints: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Christian Day, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Glenn Dickson, 23 Jamie Elliott.
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 John Cooney, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Zane Kirchner.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Jonathan Mason (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Ulster 48-0 Treviso
Ulster were in seven heaven as they moved a step closer to the European Cup knock-out stages with a commanding victory over Treviso at Ravenhill.
The Belfast-based outfit went into the clash top of the pile in Pool Five following victories over Montpellier and Leicester Tigers.
And they maintained their 100 percent record in Europe this season to stretch their lead in the group to seven points.
Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall, John Afoa, Dan Tuohy, Sean Doyle and Andrew Trimble all crossed in the emphatic triumph.
Leicester Tigers remain second and face Montpellier requiring a victory to maintain the pressure on the Irish province.
Ulster hit the ground running at threatened to breach Treviso's line on several occasions before Jackson crossed on his 50th appearance for the province.
He failed to convert his effort but Ulster doubled their advantage through Marshall on 10 minutes with Jackson making amends with the boot.
That led to Franco Smith hauling Edoardo Gori off for Tobias Botes but it had little effect as Ulster claimed their third try.
Following a sustained period of pressure, Gloucester-bound Afoa burst through a midfield gap, with Jackson comfortably converting.
They continued to press for a bonus-point try but were held at bay by Treviso and settled for a Jackson penalty to lead 22-0 at half-time.
They were dealt a blow when Marshall was sin-binned on 51 minutes but they wrapped up a maximum points haul when Darren Cave sent Touhy crashing over following a superb offload on 58 minutes.
Jackson converted and just two minutes later they claimed a fifth as Doyle got in on the act, with the flyhalf once again on target from in front of the sticks.
Mark Anscombe made a raft of changes but it had no effect as Trimble squeezed into the corner for Ulster's sixth of the night.
But that was not all as Ulster continued to torment the sorry Italians as Marshall grabbing his second following some fine work from Jackson, with the flyhalf converting to stretch his personal haul to 18 points.
Tries: Jackson, L. Marshall 2, Afoa, Tuohy, Doyle, Trimble
Cons: Jackson 5
Yellow card: Luke Marshall (Ulster, 51)
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Doyle, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Callum Black, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Neil McComb, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Michael Allen, 23 David McIlwaine.
Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Angelo Esposito, 10 Mat Berquist, 9 Edoardo Gori,8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Dean Budd, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Cornelius van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto de Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, 19 Paul Derbyshire, 20 Marco Filippucci, 21 Christian Loamanu, 22 Tobias Botes, 23 James Ambrosini.
Referee: Luke Pearce(England)
Assistant referees: David Rose (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Geoff Warren (England)