Heineken Cup: Week 4 Review


Biarritz 29-12 Treviso

Biarritz scored four second-half tries as they came from behind to claim a bonus-point victory over a brave Treviso side on Friday night.

The Italian side took the lead with two penalties from Chris Burton before flanker Francesco Minto was sent off midway through the first half. Despite the numerical deficiency, Burton struck two more penalties and even though Julien Peyrelongue kicked one before the break for the hosts, Treviso held a shock 12-3 lead at half-time.

Biarritz knew how important it was to take the win and they stormed through the second half with tries from Iain Balshaw, Dane Haylett-Petty Wenceslas Lauret and Arnaud Heguy. Peyrelongue was successful with three of the four conversions handing the French side a comfortable 29-12 win and leaving them just two points behind pool leaders Saracens.


Edinburgh 19-12 Cardiff Blues

Edinburgh moved level on points with the Cardiff Blues at the top of Pool 2 after they saw off the Welsh side by 19 points to 12.

The home side surged into a 13-0 lead early on with two penalties from Greig Laidlaw and a converted try from winger Tim Visser in the right-hand corner. A Dan Parks penalty put the visitors onto the scoreboard but another penalty and a drop-goal from Laidlaw sent Edinburgh into the break leading 19-3.

Cardiff struggled to make an impression after the interval but two more penalties from Parks pulled them back to within ten points of their hosts and back into contention. They couldn't find the all-important try that they required but a late penalty from replacement kicker Leigh Halfpenny gave the Welsh side a vital losing bonus-point.

Ospreys 13-16 Saracens

Saracens stayed at the head of Pool 5 after grinding out a tough away victory over the Ospreys on Friday night.

The two sides exchanged penalties early on as two efforts from Daniel Biggar for the hosts and Owen Farrell for Sarries left the score at 6-6 after 25 minutes. It was the visitors who grabbed the first try of the afternoon as Ernst Joubert crashed over and when Farrell added the extras and then another penalty, Saracens held a 16-6 half-time lead.

Ospreys got themselves back into the match when lock Ian Gough went over for a converted score but even with 15 minutes left on the clock, the home side couldn't find the crucial try they needed and were forced to settle for a losing bonus point.

Aironi 20-46 Ulster

Ulster moved to the top of Pool 4 with a comfortable bonus-point victory over Aironi Rugby in Italy on Saturday.

The Irish side raced into a 10-0 lead through a converted score from Andrew Trimble and an Ian Humphreys penalty before Aironi got on the board with a penalty from Luciano Orquera. Ulster were rampant though and a penalty try along with a converted score from Tom Court helped them to a 27-3 half-time lead.

The second half was a try fest as Ulster got three more scores through Craig Gilroy, Robbie Diack and Adam Macklin with Humphreys only unable to convert the last of the three. Aironi put up a stern fight as they took three tries of their own; Sinoti Sinoti, Roberto Quartaroli and George Biagi all crossing as the hosts crashed to their fourth successive defeat in the Heineken Cup.

Gloucester 23-19 Connacht

Gloucester triumphed over Connacht for the second time in as many weeks as they came through a tight encounter at Kingsholm.

An early Tim Taylor penalty put the hosts ahead before a Tiernan O'Halloran converted try put Connacht into a shock lead. Taylor soon restored the lead for Gloucester as he split the Connacht defence to score and then converted his own try but two penalties from Niall O'Connor before half-time gave Connacht a 13-10 half-time advantage.

O'Connor extended the lead with another penalty after the break before two successful kicks from Gloucester's replacement kicker Freddie Burns brought the hosts level at 16-16. O'Connor put the visitors back in front inside the last ten minutes with another penalty but Gloucester snatched victory with just five minutes remaining when Johnny May sprinted over the line.

Leicester 23-19 Clermont Auvergne

Leicester Tigers kept their Heineken Cup hopes alive with a hugely important win over Clermont Auvergne at Welford Road.

Two early drop-goals from David Skrela and Morgan Parra put the visitors 6-0 ahead before a converted Manu Tuilagi try gave Leicester the lead with just 16 minutes on the clock. Parra restored Clermont's lead with a penalty before Sitiveni Sivivatu stretched the advantage to 16-7 on the stroke of half-time.

Leicester came out firing in the second half and were soon back in front following a penalty from Toby Flood and a converted Julian Salvi score in the opening eight minutes of the half. Parra was proving influential with the boot and put the French side ahead with his second penalty but it was Flood who handed the home side the win, as he kicked two more penalties in the last 20 minutes to give Leicester a tight but crucial victory over their pool rivals.

Leinster 52-27 Bath

Leinster pulled clear at the top of Pool 3 with a seven-try thrashing of Bath on Saturday evening.

The home side started well and scored an early converted try through Rob Kearney whilst Jonny Sexton added a drop-goal. Bath responded with two Olly Barkley penalties before Leinster really clicked into gear. Despite having Leo Cullen sin-binned for throwing a punch, the Irishmen grabbed two more converted tries through Luke Fitzgerald and Sexton and went into the half-time interval leading 24-6.

Fitzgerald added his second score early in the second half before Eoin Reddan and Rhys Ruddock both crossed to extend Leinster's lead out to 45-6. Bath then restored some pride with converted tries from Stephen Donald and Dave Atwood before Ian Madigan went over for Leinster's seventh try of the game. The visitors had the final word with a consolation score from Ben Williams but it was the defending champions who ran out easy winners and stretched their lead at the top of the pool.

London Irish 19-25 Racing Metro 92

Racing Metro gained instant revenge for last week's defeat to London Irish as they won a tough game at the Madejski Stadium.

The first half-hour of the game was a penalty contest as Tom Homer's four kicks beat Jonathan Wisniewski's three and put Irish 12-9 ahead. Wisniewski struck two drop-goals just before the interval to put Racing into a 15-12 half-time lead.

Another Wisniewski drop-goal extended the advantage before a converted try from winger Sereli Bobo all but sealed the win for the French side, as they went 25-12 in front. With the last play of the game, the home side's hooker David Paice went over for a converted score to secure his side a losing bonus point but it was Racing Metro who took their first away win of this season's Heineken Cup.

Montpellier 13-13 Glasgow

Glasgow gained a vital away draw in France as they stayed second in Pool 3 and kept alive their hopes of qualification.

The first half was an uneventful affair as the only scoring came from the hosts; winger Yoan Audrin scoring a converted try just before half-time. The Scottish side got their first points early in the second half when Ruaridh Jackson slotted a penalty before Lilian Perreaux did the same for the hosts. Perreaux extended the lead to 13-3 with his second penalty before Maximiliano Bustos was sin-binned for Montpellier for a professional foul.

Glasgow took immediate advantage through Rory Lamont's converted score which put them to within three points of their hosts. Then with just two minutes remaining, Duncan Weir stepped up to slot through a penalty which handed the visitors a draw and a crucial two points.

Munster 19-13 Scarlets

Munster moved clear at the top of Pool 1 as they edged out the Scarlets for the second week in a row.

Ronan O'Gara and Stephen Jones exchanged penalties early on before the former's second successful kick just before the break gave Munster a 6-3 half-time advantage. O'Gara stepped up early in the second half to extend the lead with his third penalty before Scarlets' Jon Edwards was yellow-carded for coming in at the side.

The Irish side took immediate advantage when James Coughlan crashed over from close range for a converted score before Rhys Priestland's penalty for the visitors closed the gap to 16-6. O'Gara pushed the lead out further with another penalty before the Scarlets got a converted try of their own through Ken Owens; a score that wasn't enough to give them victory but meant that they took a losing-bonus point from Thomond Park.

Northampton 45-0 Castres

Five tries in 15 second-half minutes handed Northampton Saints their first Heineken Cup win as they blitzed Castres.

The first half lacked in action and Northampton only led 3-0 at the break through Stephen Myler's penalty. Three more Myler penalties put the hosts 12-0 ahead but at that stage there was no sign of what was to come.

Ben Foden grabbed the first try of the game before Vasily Artemyev and Mike Haywood got converted scores to extend the lead out to 33-0. Greig Tonks then scored the bonus-point try before Foden returned to score his second of the afternoon and complete the rout for the Saints. The defeat now put Castres out of contention for qualification from the group stage.

Toulouse 24-31 Harlequins

Harlequins produced a stunning victory in Toulouse to put themselves just one point behind the French side at the top of Pool 6.

Luke McAlister and Nick Evans swapped penalties in the first three minutes before Mike Brown scored the first try of the game to put Quins 8-3 ahead. A converted try from Joe Gray then put the visitors even further in front before a Yoann Maestri try pulled the hosts back to within five points at the interval.

Toulouse then went four points ahead through three penalties from Jean-Marc Doussain before the pendulum swung back towards Quins when Brown crossed for his second score of the afternoon. Evans extended the away side's lead to six points with another penalty but a try from Doussain then brought Toulouse back to within a point.

Evans had the final word as he sealed a massive victory for his side with two more penalties before full-time. The win means that Quins have only lost once in all competitions this season and are now favourites for qualification from the pool.