Toulouse punch quarterfinal ticket
Sun, 12 Jan 2014 16:03
Leinster stage stunning comeback
Toulouse triumphed 21-11 over Saracens in their key European Cup Pool Three clash at Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday to book their place in the quarterfinals.
Earlier, Leinster came back from 0-14 down to secure a 29-22 win over French champions Castres while Northampton Saints saw off Ospreys 29-17 to keep their play-off hopes alive.
We look at Sunday’s action!
Ospreys 17-29 Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints kept up the pressure on Pool One leaders Leinster with a hard-fought win over the Ospreys.
Three second-half tries, including a superb individual effort from Wales wing George North, maintains the Saints in second place in the group after Leinster's win in Castres.
The Ospreys' defeat means they stay bottom of the pool with just a solitary victory going into the final round of matches.
Northampton flyhalf Stephen Myler kicked four penalties in a scrappy first half with Dan Biggar slotting one for the home side.
The Ospreys were struggling to cope with the Saints' power in the scrum and prop Ryan Bevington saw yellow on 31 minutes after repeated infringements.
A stop-start contest was lit up within 60 seconds of the second half thanks to North's stunning solo try. Northampton turned the ball over at a ruck inside their own half and when North was released out wide, he beat Tom Isaacs and Jeff Hassler before sprinting 70 metres to score.
The visitors looked far more threatening after that try, with North making another blistering run moments later, but that soon fizzled out.
With just over a quarter of the match remaining, the Ospreys started to put Saints under pressure and this time it was the visitors' turn to lose a man as lock Christian Day was shown yellow for failing to roll away from a ruck.
The Ospreys made the most of their one-man advantage and, moments after fullback Richard Fussell had been held up over the line, scrumhalf Rhys Webb dived over from close range.
In a frantic finish, centre George Pisi looked to have made the game safe for the Saints with a try nine minutes from time but Alun Wyn Jones crossed for the Ospreys four minutes later.
But any hopes of a comeback were extinguished almost immediately when Saints went straight up the other end of the field and replacement Glenn Dickson side-stepped his way over.
Tries: Webb, AW Jones
Cons: Biggar 2
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: North, Pisi, Dickson
Pens: Myler 4
Yellow cards: Ryan Bevington (Ospreys, 31), Christian Day (Northampton Saints 59), Aisea Natoga (Ospreys, 71)
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Aisea Natoga, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Lewis, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 3 Aaron Javis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Adam Jones, 19 James King, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Jonathan Spratt.
Northampton Saints: 15 Tom Collins, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Steve Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Glenn Dickson, 23 Fa'atoina Autagavaia.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Patrick Péchambert (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Gilles Cogné (France)
Castres 22-29 Leinster
Leinster are one point away from becoming the third Irish team to reach the European Cup quarterfinals after staging a major fightback at the home of French champions Castres.
With Pool One wide open, the three-time champions knew they needed to pull off a big win in France and they weren't banking on falling 14-0 in arrears in the face of a brilliant opening blitz from Castres.
Their dream start began when Rene Lamerat burst up the middle and his co-centre Seremai Bai threw a long pass wide to the left for Richie Gray to gather with the line at his mercy. Cedric Garcia chipped over the conversion and Castres were in control.
That ninth minute lead was doubled midway through the half when fullback Brice Dulin took an inside pass from flying wing Remi Grosso to race the length of the 22 to cross for another try which Garcia converted.
At that stage Leinster looked down and out. Their scrum was in tatters and Bai and Lamerat were carving huge holes through the middle of their defence.
But the Irishmen kept their composure, scrambled superbly in defence and eventually clawed their way back into the game. Two driving line-outs led to a five-metre scrum from which Jamie Heaslip an Eoin Reddan combined to send Jimmy Gopperth over for a try.
The flyhalf added the simple conversion and then replied to a Garcia penalty with a second try on the stroke of half-time that cut the gap at the break to five points.
Castres could have scored immediately from the restart, Daniel Kirkpatrick being cut down inches short, but Leinster defended their line as if their lives depended on it and suddenly turned the game on its head.
With the wind behind them, and the introduction of Shane Jennings on 51 minutes making a major impact, Leinster went from five points behind to seven points ahead in the space of seven minutes.
In those magnificent minutes, Gopperth punished Garcia for using his boots at a ruck, Rob Kearney celebrated his 50th European Cup appearance with a trademark long-range drop-goal and Gopperth added two more penalties.
Now all the impetus and momentum was with Leinster, who added a try by flank Jordi Murphy even though they had Sean Cronin in the sin-bin.
Lamerat picked up a consolation try with the last move of the match, but it wasn't enough to keep intact Castres’ proud home record at Stade Pierre Antoine. Leinster took the spoils as they notched another famous European away win.
Tries: Gray, Dulin, Lamerat
Cons: Garcia 2
Tries: Gopperth 2, Murphy
Pens: Gopperth 3
DG: R Kearney
Yellow card: Sean Cronin (Leinster, 69)
Castres: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Remi Grosso, 13 Seremaia Bai, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Max Evans, 10 Remi Tales (captain), 9 Cedric Garcia, 8 Piula Faasalele, 7 Ibrahim Diarra, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Christophe Samson, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Benjamin Desroche, 19 Yannick Caballero, 20 Julien Tomas, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Marcel Garvey, 23 Anton Peikrishvili.
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Aardon Dundon, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Zane Kirchner.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Jon Mason (Wales)
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wales)
Toulouse 21-11 Saracens
Toulouse stepped up their quest for a fifth European Cup crown as they booked their place in the last eight with a hard-fought win over fellow tournament heavyweights Saracens.
Jean-Marc Doussain kicked seven penalties for Europe's most successful side to ensure they qualify for the quarterfinals with a week to spare.
They will have to wait until Round Six to try and top the pool and claim a home tie in the knock-out stages but they are now guaranteed to finish as at least one of the two best runners-up in this year's tournament.
Saracens scored the only try of the game through England wing Chris Ashton, with Owen Farrell adding a brace of penalties, but they now face a must-win clash with Connacht that will determine whether they join Toulouse in the quarterfinals.
The opening points of the game came immediately after the kick-off as a huge chase from Toulouse forced Billy Vunipola to hang on to the ball, with Doussain slotting the penalty from 10 metres to the right.
But it was Sarries who were celebrating the first try after eight minutes as Ashton darted down the blindside when Toulouse were sloppy around the fringes and Hosea Gear got sucked in at a close-range ruck. Farrell uncharacteristically sent the conversion across the face of the posts after Ashton had done well to race around 10 metres in from touch.
Doussain kicked a second penalty from straight in front after Sarries were caught with hands in the ruck after 14 minutes but superb scramble defence from the visitors prevented them falling further behind when Huget and Maxime Medard began a brilliant breakout that took Toulouse from one 22 to the other before the visitors could draw breath.
Farrell kicked Sarries in front when Census Johnston was penalised at a 27th-minute scrum but the score swung back in Toulouse' favour straight from the kick-off as Doussain struck his third penalty to make it 9-8.
That single-point advantage soon became four when Doussain added another penalty three minutes past the half hour but Saracens were fortunate not to have fallen further behind after a missed tackle from Ashton left them in all sorts of trouble.
Ashton handed his opposite number a free run down the left after being bumped off on halfway and Gear's clever step and offload to Chiliboy Ralepelle had Toulouse within five metres of the try-line.
Sarries scrambled superbly as the likes of Louis Picamoles, Yann David and Yohan Maestri all battered forwards, with Yannick Nyanga eventually held up over the line and skipper Thierry Dusautoir opting for the posts from the resulting penalty.
Sarries trailed 8-12 at the break and they could have been further adrift in the opening stages of the second half as Toulouse began brightly. Saracens were again exemplary in defence, though, and a Doussain penalty on 50 minutes was Toulouse' only reward.
Doussain missed with a drop-goal attempt seven minutes later as Sarries all but emptied their bench and he was off target from the tee on the hour.
Sarries' task got significantly tougher moments later, though, as Mako Vunipola saw yellow for a breakdown offence and Doussain's penalty made it 18-8.
Farrell brought Sarries back to within bonus point range with a quarter of an hour left but a seventh strike from Doussain robbed them of that consolation with three minutes remaining.
Pens: Doussain 7
Pens: Farrell 2
Yellow card: Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 60)
Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Yann David, 12 Clement Poitrenaud , 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle , 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Yohan Montes, 19 Romain Millo-Chluski, 20 Joe Tekori, 21 Yacouba Camara, 22 Sebastian Bézy, 23 Gael Fickou.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 George Kruis, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)
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