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heinekencupA bit late sorry but we take a look at an interesting weekend’s action in the Heineken Cup. This weekend saw some very close games as well as a few run away wins and perhaps most significantly saw Ulster lose their first competitive match of the season in one of the weekend’s close affairs. 

bbc

Friday night’s games

Edinburgh 3-15 Racing Metro

Edinburgh (3) 3

  • Pens: Francis

Racing Metro (6) 15

  • Pens: Barkley, Germain 4

Edinburgh are still without a point in the Heineken Cup following defeat to Racing Metro at Murrayfield.

Last season’s semi-finalists have yet to score a try in four outings and rarely threatened the French visitors on a cold, wet evening.

Gaetan Germain boomed over four of the five penalties landed by Racing Metro, following Ollie Barkley’s early effort.

Edinburgh defended stoutly but could only profit from one of the six penalties that came their way.

These sides served up a 48-47 cracker in the pool stage of last year’s tournament, with Edinburgh running in six tries to five to come out on top.

However, there was to be no repeat of that thrilling encounter, with the home side guilty of poor handling and a lack of guile, while the French visitors were content to grind out the victory.

Out of contention to reach the knockout phase before kick-off, a much-changed Edinburgh welcomed back Scotland centre Ben Cairns following a 16-month injury lay-off, while Ben Atiga and Netani Talei made their first appearances since October.

Piers Francis was given his first start at stand-off after making his debut off the bench in Paris last weekend but the recent arrival from New Zealand side Chiefs had a night to forget in front of the posts, missing four of the five penalties he took.

Barkley knocked over a straightforward penalty and the visitors doubled their lead after seven minutes with Argentina full-back Germain demonstrating great power and accuracy.

Francis ballooned two wayward penalty attempts before he split the posts from 30 metres after 28 minutes.

Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford made a lumbering dash for the line when his line-out throw was flipped back to him and scrum-half Chris Leck was taken out 10 metres out by an offside Jaques Cronje.

Referee Dudley Phillips gave the penalty but kept his cards in his pocket and Francis tugged his kick narrowly wide.

Barkley fell short with a long-range penalty, while a clever kick and chase from Juan Imhoff saw Edinburgh winger Dougie Fife scrambling well to clear.

The second-half opened with Germain’s looping long-ranger clipping the outside of a post and again it was Fife who was quickest to react and thwart the danger.

Francis was wide and short with an effort from distance before Talei was sin-binned for a ludicrously late challenge on Barkley.

The numbers were evened up soon after when prop Eddy Ben Arous was shown a yellow card for deliberate interference from an offside position during a rare Edinburgh attack.

Greig Tonks took over the kicking duties from Francis but could not fare any better from 40 metres.

Germain then increased the visitors’ lead with two confident penalties as Edinburgh’s self-belief drained away with the lashing rain.

The game ended with Edinburgh penalised for a squint feed at a scrum and Racing Metro pushed for a try under the posts in stoppage time.

However, the move lacked conviction and ended with a Richie Rees interception, while the hosts soon squandered possession with a wild pass, rather summing up their night.

TEAMS

Edinburgh: Tonks, Jones, Cairns, Atiga, Fife, Francis, Leck, Yapp, Ford, Cross, McAlpine, Gilchrist, McInally, Grant, Talei. Replacements: S. Visser for Cairns (77), Hunter for Atiga (64), Rees for Leck (69), Jacobsen for Yapp (49), Nel for Cross (49), Parker for McAlpine (49). Not Used: Titterrell, Basilaia.

Sin Bin: Talei (54).

Racing Metro 92: Germain, Bobo, Bousses, Dumoulin, Imhoff, Barkley, Descons, Ben Arous, Szarzewski, Ducalcon, Ghezal, Van Der Merwe, Battut, Noirot, Cronje. Replacements: Belie for Dumoulin (78), Hernandez for Barkley (69), Brugnaut for Ben Arous (68), Bianchin for Szarzewski (75), Orlandi for Ducalcon (67), Qovu for Van Der Merwe (64), Galindo for Noirot (50), Gerondeau for Cronje (71).

Sin Bin: Ben Arous (58).

Att: 4,598

Ref: Dudley Phillips (RFU)

Biarritz 17-0 Connacht

BIARRITZ (10) 17

  • Tries:Balshaw, Burotu
  • Cons: Yachvili 2,
  • Pens: Yachvili

CONNACHT (0) 0

Biarritz kept alive their faint hopes of qualification for Heineken Cup quarter-finals as they beat Connacht at a sodden Parc des Sports Aguilera.

The French club dominated possession and Connacht never threatened the Biarritz line in the contest.

After Dimitri Yachvili’s early penalty, Connacht somehow held out until Iain Balshaw’s 31st-minute try. Connacht defended gamely in the rain-lashed conditions before Seremaia Burotu’s late try for the home side.

By the end of the game, the players looked as if they had been taking part in a bog snorkelling contest such were their muddied appearances.

Heavy rain in the south west of France had put the contest in doubt and the game started with pools of water already on the pitch.

Biarritz’s shock defeat in Galway last week had led club president Serge Blanco to dispense with their services of coach Jake Isaac and his assistant Serge Milhas.

The club’s athletic director, former France forward, Laurent Rodriguez took charge for Friday’s game after being handed temporary control by his former international team-mate.

Johnny O’Connor’s inclusion was Connacht’s only change from last weekend’s win and he was guilty of conceding a third-minute penalty as he illegally dispossessed fit-again Imanol Harinordoquy which allowed Yachvili to score from in front of the posts.

As Biarritz continued to press, winger Takudzwa Ngwenya appeared to have scored in the 12th minute but the video correctly showed that he had not grounded before skidding off the saturated pitch.

Connacht were being forced to soak up constant pressure and Parks’ positioning in the number 13 channel meant that he was struggling to get any distance with his clearance kicks.

Biarritz’s pressure finally yielded a try for the impressive Balshaw in the 31st minute after quick hands from Jean Pascal Barraque, Damien Traille as the Top 14 club had numbers out wide, with Parks caught out in defence.

Yachvili added the conversion but missed a further penalty chance before the break as Connacht were probably relieved to only be 10-0 in arrears.

After Benoit August was yellow carded for some illegal handling on the floor on 47 minutes, Parks had a chance to open Connacht’s account from 40 metres but in the dreadful kicking conditions the former Scottish international was off target.

An injury to Connacht’s South African centre Danie Poolman led to a long delay as he had to be stretchered off the field after taking an accidental knee to the head in a ruck.

As some Biarritz frustration started to set in, replacement Thibault Dubarry was sin-binned by referee Leighton Hodges after tangling with Leinster-bound Mike McCarthy.

However, once again Connacht were unable to profit from the man advantage and Biarritz replacement Burotu scored in the final minute after Traille’s chip and chase with man of the match Yachvili slotting a superb conversion.

TEAMS

Biarritz : Iain Balshaw; Takudzwa Ngwenya, Jean Pascal Barraque, Damien Traille, Aled Brew; Julien Peyrelongue, Dimitri Yachvili; Fabien Barcella, Benoit August, Francisco Gomez Kodela; Erik Lund, Pelu Taele; Wenceslas Lauret, Raphael Lakafia, Imanol Harinordoquy (c).

Replacements: Jean-Philippe Genevois, Wicus Blaauw, Thomas Synaeghel, Thibault Dubarry, Magnus Lund, Yann Lesgourgues, Seremaia Burotu, Marcelo Bosch.

Connacht: Robbie Henshaw; Tiernan O’Halloran, Danie Poolman, Dave McSharry, Fetu’u Vainikolo; Dan Parks (capt), Kieran Marmion; Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright, Ronan Loughney; Mick Kearney, Mike McCarthy; Andrew Browne, Johnny O’Connor, Eoin McKeon.

Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Denis Buckley, Nathan White, Danny Qualter, George Naoupu, Paul O’Donohoe, Miah Nikora, Matthew Jarvis

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)

Saturday’s games

Ospreys 17-6 Toulouse

Ospreys (9) 17

  • Try: Walker
  • Pens: Biggar 3
  • DG: Biggar

Toulouse (6) 6

  • Pen: Doussain
  • DG: Doussain

Eli Walker’s brilliant solo try earned Ospreys a crucial Heineken Cup win against Pool Two leaders Toulouse to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.

The wing weaved past three defenders to reach the left corner and gain revenge for their recent loss in France.

Four-time European champions Toulouse looked lacklustre but were in touch thanks to a penalty and a drop-goal from Jean-Marc Doussain.

But Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar kicked 12 points to seal the win.

Ospreys entered the game a distant third in Pool Two, with only five points from their opening three group fixtures.

That was courtesy of a home win over Treviso, with the Welsh region having lost both away encounters at Leicester and Toulouse.

Ospreys started brightly and an early Biggar penalty gave them a deserved early advantage.

Toulouse full-back Maxime Medard and his wings were having considerable difficulty dealing with high balls in the swirling, moisture-heavy air.

And Ospreys doubled their lead through a Biggar drop-goal after another steepling Garryowen was allowed to bounce in the Toulouse 22.

Patricio Albacete was sin-binned after raking his studs over a prone Ian Gough but Toulouse kept driving forward and Doussain kicked a penalty when Ospreys went off their feet at a ruck.

With Albacete absent, though, Ospreys turned the screw at the scrum, working their way into the Toulouse 22 before winning a penalty, which Biggar kicked.

A Doussain drop-goal on the stroke of half-time trimmed the Welsh lead to 9-6.

Soon after the restart, Wales and Lions prop Adam Jones came off the bench for his first game since being injured against Leicester in October, replacing Campbell Johnstone at tight-head.

Ospreys coach Steve Tandy also replaced Gough with Lloyd Peers, but opposite number Guy Noves countered by sending on Yannick Nyanga, Jean-Baptiste Poux and Christopher Tolofua.

Doussain could have drawn Toulouse level but his 40-metre penalty kick from in front of the posts drifted left and bounced off an upright.

Toulouse captain Jean Bouilhou became the second man to get a yellow card as he tackled Walker high and Biggar kicked the resulting penalty.

Walker made a crucial breakthrough as the left-wing brushed aside Yoann Huget to go over at the corner for an unconverted try.

Ashley Beck then knocked on as he reached for the line, which almost proved costly. With five minutes left, Jones was sin-binned for his part in stopping a Toulouse rolling maul, which went over the Ospreys line but was held up by Justin Tipuric.

Toulouse opted for the five-metre scrum from the penalty but the weakened Ospreys pack disrupted the French shove and Tipuric pounced on the loose ball.

In a frantic final minute Andrew Bishop intercepted a Toulouse pass in his own 22 to release Walker.

The wing outstripped his support and opted to kick ahead, allowing Toulouse to regather and launch one last attack down the right but the final pass was loose and the ball sailed into touch.

Leicester’s last-gasp win at Treviso saw them take over at the top of Pool 2, but Ospreys are five points behind and next play the English side in Swansea in January.

 TEAMS

Ospreys: Richard Fussell; Ross Jones, Andrew Bishop, Ashley Beck, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Kahn Fotouali’i (capt); Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard, Campbell Johnstone, Ian Gough, James King, Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric, Joe Bearman.

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Duncan Jones for Bevington (59), Adam Jones for Johnstone (45), Lloyd Peers for Gough (45), George Stowers, Rhys Webb, Matthew Morgan for Biggar (76), Tom Isaacs.

Sin Bin: A. Jones (76).

Toulouse: Maxime Medard; Vincent Clerc, Yann David, Gael Fickou, Yoann Huget; Jean Marc Doussain, Luke Burgess; Vasil Kakovin, Gary Botha, Census Johnston, Yoann Maestri, Patricio Albacete, Jean Bouilhou (capt), Thierry Dusautoir, Louis Picamoles.

Replacements: Christopher Tolofua for Botha (50), Jean-Baptiste Poux for Kakovin (50), Yohann Montes for Johnston (64), Romain Millo-Chluski, Yannick Nyanga for Dustautoir (50), Gregory Lamboley for Bouilhou (70), Yannick Jauzion for David (68), Sebastien Bezy.

Sin Bin: Albacete (25), Bouilhou (60).

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ire), Richard Kerr (Ire).

TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ire).

Citing commisioner: Tony Lanaway (Eng).

Treviso 13-14 Leicester

Treviso (10) 13

  • Tries: Penalty try
  • Cons: Di Bernardo
  • Pens: Di Bernardo (2)

Leicester (7) 14

  • Tries: Thompstone, penalty try
  • Cons: Ford (2)

Leicester Tigers moved to the top of Heineken Cup Pool Two with a dramatic win at bottom side Treviso.

The Italian hosts threatened to cause a major upset as they led 13-7 after 76 minutes through a penalty try and eight points from Alberto Di Bernardo’s boot.

Leicester had opened the scoring when winger Adam Thompstone finished a superb counter-attack to touch down, with George Ford adding the extras.

Ford’s conversion following a late penalty try clinched a last-gasp win.

Two-time European champions Leicester, who had never lost in 17 previous matches against Italian opposition, looked to be heading towards a famous defeat before their late rally.

Treviso were reduced to 14 men after a cynical late tackle by Christian Loamanu earned him a yellow card with 14 minutes remaining.

Leicester used their numerical advantage to pile on the pressure and after they won a series of scrums, referee Alain Rolland lost patience with the home defence and awarded the penalty try.

Ford kept his cool to slot over the conversion and earn his team what could be a priceless victory in their bid to reach the knockout stage.

Ospreys’ home win against leaders Toulouse blew the pool wide open and means the Tigers know that qualification now lies in their own hands.

Leicester Tigers coach Richard Cockerill: “We’re obviously very relieved because we came away with the win. You have to congratulate Treviso for the way they played. They made us work exceptionally hard.

“Conversely, you have to congratulate our players for sticking in there and digging in right until the end.

“Everything went against us really. We scored a really good try in that first half, but somehow we upset the referee and he was against us for a fair bit.

“You could easily let all those factors get on top of you and throw in the towel. But we didn’t, we stuck to our guns, played for the win, and eventually we got it.”

TEAMS

Treviso: McLean, Nitoglia, Loamanu, Sgarbi, Iannone, Di Bernardo, Gori, Vosawai, Budd, Zanni, C Van Zyl, Minto, Cittadini, Ghiraldini, Rizzo.

Replacements: K. Burton for McLean (51), Semenzato for Gori (41), Favaro for Vosawai (55), Derbyshire for Budd (55), Rouyet for Rizzo (73).

Not Used: Sbaraglini, Muccignat, Bernabo.

Sin Bin: Rizzo (17), Loamanu (66).

Leicester: Tait, Morris, Tuilagi, Allen, Thompstone, Ford, B Youngs, Waldrom, Salvi, B Deacon, Parling, L Deacon, Cole, T Youngs, Ayerza.

Replacements: Murphy for Thompstone (46), Crane for Waldrom (23), Castrogiovanni for Cole (59), Mulipola for Ayerza (59).

Not Used: Chuter, Kitchener, Harrison, Bowden.

Attendance: 3,000

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).

Harlequins 53-5 Zebre

Harlequins (20) 53

  • Tries: Casson, Botica, Easter, Smith, Care, Dickson, penalty try
  • Cons: Evans 6
  • Pens: Evans 2

Zebre (5) 5

  • Tries: Trevisan

Harlequins demolished Italian side Zebre to move closer to a place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

The home side took time to get on top, but took full control after two Zebre yellow cards in quick succession.

Quins scored seven tries – with six scorers and a penalty try and Nick Evans kicked a further 18 points.

The bonus-point win means Quins need only one more point from their remaining two games to secure a place in the last eight.

The hosts, with Chris Robshaw and Uge Monye back after missing last week’s 57-14 win in Italy , took an early lead through an Evans penalty, with the fly-half then chipping through for Tom Casson to collect and cross the line.

Quins were frustrated as Ruggero Trevisan crossed to get the visitors on the board, but the Premiership champions were back on their way with a penalty try as the Zebre scrum went backwards after Daniel Halangahu had seen a yellow card.

From there, it was one way traffic, with replacement Ben Botica going over and Tom Guest being fed from a maul to dive in either side of Gonzalo Garcia being sent to the sin bin for deliberate offside.

Sam Smith finished off a flowing move for the fifth score, with Danny Care taking on a 40-metre run for Quins’ sixth try.

Zebre’s miserable afternoon was complete as flanker Filippo Ferrarini became the third visiting player to be sent to the sin bin before Karl Dickson went over for Quins’ final score.

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea: “We were imprecise and made mistakes but it was ultimately a job well done.

“We scored over 50 points in each of the two games against them. Before we first played them I read out their scores to our players and it showed that after 55 minutes of each game they had been in contention so they take some breaking down.

“We want to be at home in the quarter-final in April. People say that we are stuttering along but we’ve won 13 out of 16 in all competitions.”

TEAMS

Harlequins: Brown, Monye, Hopper, Casson, Smith, Evans, Care, Lambert, Gray, Collier, Matthews, Robson, Guest, Robshaw, Easter.

Replacements: Dickson for Brown (62), Botica for Monye (41), Marfo for Lambert (62), Buchanan for Gray (59), Sinckler for Collier (59), Twomey for Matthews (59), Wallace for Easter (52).

Not Used: Turner-Hall.

Zebre: Trevisan, Venditti, Pace, Halangahu, Sarto, Orquera, Chillon, De Marchi, Giazzon, Redolfini, Van Vuren, Sole, Cattina, Ferrarini, van Schalkwyk.

Replacements: Garcia for Pace (41), Cristiano for Halangahu (51), Pratichetti for Orquera (68), Martinelli for Chillon (51), Perugini for De Marchi (33), Manici for Giazzon (51), Fazzari for Redolfini (41), Belardo for Cattina (61).

Sin Bin: Halangahu (36), Garcia (50), Ferrarini (73).

Attendance: 12,036

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France).

Exeter Chiefs 30-20 Scarlets

Exeter (20) 30

  • Tries: Whitten, Alcott, Scaysbrook
  • Con: Steenson 3
  • Pens: Steenson 3

Scarlets (13) 20

  • Tries: Owen, Williams
  • Con: A Thomas 2
  • Pens: A Thomas

Exeter withstood a second-half fightback by Scarlets to claim victory in their Heineken Cup Pool Five clash.

The Welsh side, who lost 22-16 to Exeter last weekend, came from 17-3 down midway through the first half to level it at 20-20 after 42 minutes.

But Gareth Steenson kicked his third penalty of the match on 61 minutes to put Exeter ahead again.

And captain James Scaysbrook crossed in the dying seconds of the game to make sure of victory.

The win keeps Exeter’s hopes alive of at least progressing to the latter stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup.

Tries by Ian Whitten and Simon Alcott had helped put the home side in control – Whitten helping to support a break by winger Jack Nowell to cross while hooker Alcott took advantage after Aled Thomas had a clearance kick charged down.

But Scarlets hit back and Ken Owens went over just before the break while Scott Williams crossed and Aled Thomas’s conversion levelled it.

Exeter finally got back into the game and their pack exerted the pressure at a series of scrums in front of the posts. After a number of resets, the Scarlets were penalised for standing up and Steenson’s simple penalty nudged his side back in front.

Exeter went in search of another try in the final minutes and Scaysbrook went over under the posts before Steenson added the extras to complete the scoring.

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter: “We got off to a flying start playing some good pressure rugby, good hard carries, good positional kicking, pressure in the set piece and pressuring their kickers.

“We got in some good positions which we got one very good try from and from pressure we created a second.

“We were on form then and playing to a very strong game plan but then went a little off plan, but we tend to do that when we get a lead and get excited.”

Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby: “The game got away from us in the opening 20 minutes and you can’t give any team two soft tries but that is what we did.

“The charge down was one which they didn’t have to work for and then they scored off a set piece.

“When you gift them 12 points in the first half then it is always going to be an uphill struggle, and we did that last week as well when they got into an early lead.”

TEAMS

Exeter: Dollman, Nowell, Naqelevuki, Whitten, Camacho, Steenson, Thomas, Sturgess, Alcott, Tui, Muldowney, Hanks, Mumm, Scaysbrook, Johnson.

Replacements: Arscott for Nowell (52), Barrett for Thomas (62), Moon for Sturgess (65), Clark for Alcott (51), Rimmer for Tui (50), Welch for Hanks (65), White for Johnson (44).

Not Used: Mieres.

Sin Bin: Hanks (22).

Scarlets: L. Williams, North, J. Davies, S. Williams, Maule, A. Thomas, A. Davies, Hopkins, Owens, Lee, Timani, Kelly, Earle, J. Edwards, Murphy.

Replacements: K. Phillips for North (62), Newton for S. Williams (73), Knoyle for A. Davies (64), R. Jones for Hopkins (53), Rees for Owens (59), Manu for Lee (65), Snyman for Timani (59), Vallejos for Earle (60).

Sin Bin: L. Williams (7).

Attendance: 9,258

Referee: Romain Poite (France).

Leinster 21-28 Clermont Auvergne

Leinster (6) 21

  • Tries: Jennings, McFadden
  • Cons: Sexton
  • Pens: Sexton (3)

Clermont (16) 28

  • Tries: Fofana
  • Cons: Parra
  • Pens: Parra (7)

Defending champions Leinster face an uphill task to reach the Heineken Cup quarter-finals after their second successive defeat against Clermont.

Clermont, who won 15-12 in the reverse fixture, held a commanding 25-9 lead after Morgan Parra kicked 20 points and Wesley Fofana scored a first-half try.

But the holders claimed a vital losing bonus point after late tries from Shane Jennings and Fergus McFadden.

Clermont hold an eight-point advantage over Leinster at the top of Pool Five.

Joe Schmidt’s men, who beat the French side at the semi-final stage of last season’s competition, know overhauling the leaders to qualify outright for the quarter-finals looks a slim possibility.

However, maximum points from their final two matches against Exeter and Scarlets could see the Irish side qualify as one of the group stage’s two best runners-up.

Clermont produced an impressive display of physical power in Dublin, where Leinster had not lost since October 2009, to outline their credentials as one of the tournament favourites.

The game was finely poised in the opening quarter as both defences held firm, before the momentum swung in the French side’s favour with the game’s first try after 34 minutes.

Sitiveni Sivivatu exploited a small gap in the Irish side’s defence before brilliantly off-loading to Napolioni Nalaga, who was held up by desperate home defending.

However, the hosts could not regroup quickly enough as the ball was recycled and Fofana, who famously lost control of the ball as he thought he had scored the match-winning try in last season’s semi-final, powered over on the angle.

It was a sucker-punch for Leinster, who would not have been too disheartened by limiting the visitors to just a 9-6 half-time advantage.

But they made a bad start to the second period when Mike Ross lost his footing and collapsed the scrum to leave Parra with another kickable opportunity, which he took.

Jonny Sexton’s penalty reduced the deficit to 10 points shortly after, but another attempt from the halfway line dropped agonisingly wide of the posts.

However, any sense of optimism from the home crowd soon evaporated when their side were reduced to 14 men.

Sean O’Brien clattered Sivivatu in a cynical off-the-ball tackle to halt a quick Clermont counter instigated by Parra’s sharp-thinking tap.

France international Parra booted over the resulting penalty and the numerical advantage allowed Clermont to crank up the pressure deep in Leinster territory.

Sivivatu felt he had barged over the line seconds before O’Brien’s return, but video referee Geoff Warren decided several replays proved inconclusive and the try was ruled out.

O’Brien returned to the field as Leinster survived their numerical disadvantage without further loss.

Suddenly the home crowd found their voice as they tried to spur their side towards a dramatic bonus point which could prove crucial after the final two pool games next month.

A quick line-out and strong drive allowed Jennings to surge through the French defence and Sexton converted as Leinster reduced the deficit to 25-16 with 13 minutes remaining.

Parra, who looked assured every time he was handed a kicking opportunity, added another penalty as closing the gap to seven points or less looked beyond Leinster.

But one last burst in the final play of the match allowed McFadden to score and give the 48,000 crowd, an Irish record for a Heineken Cup pool match, faint hope of a last-eight place.

TEAMS

Leinster: Madigan, McFadden, D’Arcy, Goodman, Nacewa, J Sexton, Reddan, Van der Merwe, Strauss, Ross, Cullen, Browne, O’Brien, Jennings, J Heaslip.

Replacements: D Kearney for Nacewa (59), Boss for Reddan (66), Healy for van der Merwe (47), Cronin for Strauss (12), Bent for Ross (52), Toner for Browne (41), Murphy for Jennings (67). Not Used: Conway.

Sin Bin: O’Brien (51).

Clermont Auvergne: Byrne, Sivivatu, Rougerie, Fofana, Nalaga, James, Parra, Chaume, Kayser, Zirakashvili, Cudmore, Hines, Bonnaire, Bardy, Chouly.

Replacements: King for Byrne (37), Debaty for Chaume (66), Paulo for Kayser (70), Kotze for Zirakashvili (70), Jacquet for Hines (75), Lapandry for Bonnaire (68). Not Used: Radoslavjevic, Skrela.

Attendance: 48,964

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)

Montpellier 34-21 Cardiff Blues

Montpellier (17) 34

  • Tries: Nagusa, Van Vuuren, Audrin, Beattie.
  • Cons: Bustos Moyana 4
  • Pens: Bustos Moyana 2

Cardiff Blues (8) 21

  • Tries: Warburton, Cuthbert
  • Cons: Patchell
  • Pens: Patchell 3

Cardiff Blues fell to a fourth consecutive Heineken Cup loss despite a gutsy performance against Montpellier, who secured a bonus-point win.

The Welsh side were leading 8-3 early on following Sam Warburton’s try and a Rhys Patchell penalty.

The French side responded with tries from Timoci Nagusa, Rassie van Vuuren and Yohan Audrin.

Alex Cuthbert hit back but Johnnie Beattie sealed the victory and bonus point with his touchdown on 58 minutes.

Victory keeps Montpellier’s Heineken Cup hopes alive but the Blues, who had lost at home to the French side last Sunday, remain rooted at the bottom of Pool 6.

The Welsh side were forced to make two late changes with both Lou Reed, who did not play following the death of his father, and Marc Breze dropping out of the squad. Macauley Cook replaced Reed

Rhys Patchell missed an early shot at goal but Warburton pounced for an opportunist try with just four minutes on the clock.

From a five-metre lineout Van Vuuren missed his man, with the ball falling to the Wales captain to dive over.

Patchell was again off target with the conversion and Martin Bustos Moyano responded with his side’s first points to bring the hosts within two points.

The 19-year-old fly-half restored the Blues’ cushion but Montpellier began to take control of the encounter.

Only some superb defence from Cuthbert forced Nagusa to touch down out of play following a sweeping backs move, but the Fijian quickly got his try.

The attacker was tackled but not held by Gavin Evans and jumped back up to race over. Bustos Moyano slotted the conversion and the French outfit turned the screw on their rivals.

Patchell fired a long-range penalty wide and Nagusa launched a scintillating counter-attack which provided the platform for Montpellier to manufacture their second try.

The Welsh region hung on following a succession of five-metre scrums but the pressure eventually told. Van Vuuren was the beneficiary, as he pivoted at the back of a ruck to twist out of Andries Pretorius’ tackle to score.

Bustos Moyano added the extras to establish a 17-8 lead, which Montpellier hung onto at the interval.

The French team came out flying in the second half and it took them just one minute to get the scoreboard ticking once again.

They launched a sustained period of pressure and Audrin eventually pounced through Patchell and Josh Navidi to score. Bustos Moyano added the conversion to establish a 16-point lead.

But the Blues fought back and full-back Jason Tovey came close to snatching a try from a superb chip and chase and soon after Cuthbert burst clear, the Wales wing bumping off Santiago Fernandez and racing away in the 51st minute.

Man of the match Beattie hit back with a fourth try for Montpellier and Bustos Moyano converted before Patchell and Bustos Moyano exchanged further penalties to round off the scoring.

Cardiff Blues director of rugby Phil Davies: “It really wasn’t easy out there but we showed a lot of spirit and a lot of pride.

“They are a top side with a massive pack of forwards. But the pleasing thing for us is that we stuck at it.

“We looked pretty competent at the scrum, we pinched a coupe of lineout balls off them and won our own balls. Generally there’s a lot of things to be pleased with.

“The frustration that we are feeling at the moment will fuel our fire to get some victories. We have a game plan, it’s developing and we just need a few wins.”

TEAMS

Montpellier: Bustos Moyana, Nagusa, Carraro, Bosch, Audrin, Fernandez, J Tomas, Watremez, van Vuuren, Figallo, De Marco, Fakate, Bias, Galletier, Beattie.

Replacements: S Hape for Carraro (59), Thiery for Audrin (70), Escande for J Tomas (66), Leleimalefaga for Watremez (53), Ladhuie for van Vuuren (72), Fa’amausili for Figallo (66), Privat for Fakate (55), Ouedraogo for Bias (56).

Cardiff Blues: Tovey, Cuthbert, Evans, Hewitt, Robinson, Patchell, Jones, Filise, R. Williams, Bourrust, Cook, Down, Navidi, Warburton, Pretorius.

Replacements: O Williams for Cuthbert (77), G Davies for Hewitt (67), Lewis for Jones (77), Hobbs for Filise (56), Dacey for R Williams (74), Copeland for Cook (63), Andrews for Down (56), Hamilton for Navidi (76).

Referee: Greg Garner (England)

Assistant Referee: Steve Leyshon (England)

Assistant Referee: Stuart Terheege (England)

Fourth Official: Jean-Pierre Matheu (France)

TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Assessor: Giovanni Romano (Italy)

Citing Commissioner: Paul Minto (Scotland)

Ulster 9-10 Northampton

ULSTER (6) 9

  • Pens: Jackson 3

NORTHAMPTON (10) 10

  • Tries: Van Velze
  • Pens: Myler
  • Cons: Myler

Ulster suffered their first competitive defeat of the season as Northampton secured a shock victory in the Heineken Cup Pool Four game at Ravenhill.

Northampton led 10-6 at half-time thanks to a GJ van Velze try and five points from the boot of Steve Myler.

Paddy Jackson kicked two penalties in the first half and landed a further penalty in the second period.

It was a deserved win for the Saints over a lacklustre Ulster, who are still in control at the top of the pool.

Northampton came into the game determined to make amends for last week’s heavy 25-6 defeat at the hands of the Irish province at Franklin’s Gardens.

They would have been all-but out of the competition had they lost, but now they will be watching Sunday’s match between Castres and Glasgow.

The English Premiership side enjoyed early territorial superiority, but their sustained pressure in front of the Ulster line failed to yield a try, as the Ulster defence held firm.

Myler kicked a seventh-minute penalty for the dominant Saints, who were proving a much different proposition than a week ago.

The visitors were rewarded when number eight Van Velze completed a fine move by shrugging off a weak challenge by Andrew Trimble and diving over in the corner for an 18th-minute try.

Myler added the difficult conversion from the touchline to extend his side’s lead to 10 points.

Jackson replied with a penalty from in front of the posts after 31 minutes to record the home side’s first points of the match.

Ulster came more into game and Jared Payne squandered a potential try-scoring opportunity when he dropped the ball following a break by flanker Nick Williams.

Jackson missed with his second penalty attempt, the ball drifting wide of the upright. but the fly-half made amends by successfully landing his third kick to reduce the deficit to four points.

A further Jackson penalty three minutes after half-time saw Ulster eat further into Northampton’s advantage.

Samu Manoa almost scored his side’s second touchdown, but was stopped just short of the line.

A minute later, centre Tom May knocked the ball forward with the try-line at his mercy.

Ruan Pienaar was off target with a long-range penalty attempt and then transferred to the number 10 position after Jackson was forced to retire hurt, Paul Marshall coming on as a replacement.

Charging back row forward Williams was held up just short of the line as Ulster pressed their opponents into a rearguard action.

A Myler drop-goal attempt was charged down and Ulster broke clear but were called back for an infringement when a try looked possible.

Marshall set off on another break from his own half and found Tommy Bowe, who fell short of the line with an injury, which forced him off the field with a serious-looking injury.

Three minutes from time, Ulster were awarded a penalty for a Northampton infringement but Pienaar skewed his kick wide of the posts and the chance to steal victory was gone.

Northampton coach Jim Mallinder: “We had the determination to put the last game right. We were bitterly disappointed with the first game and we got a lot of criticism from various places.

“The front five were outstanding. The set-piece went really well as did the breakdown. Last week we couldn’t get any quick ball and we didn’t get on the front foot at all.

“In this game from the start we were on the front foot with our forwards working really hard and we got some good width in our game.

“We could have possibly scored another couple of tries.”

Ulster coach Mark Anscombe: “It’s sad because it’s our first loss but we got beaten by a better team. We’re still a good team and we’ll bounce back.

“It happens and you’ve got to acknowledge it and respect it as they did well and deserved their victory. We’ve got to go back and look at what we need to do better.

I think we created enough opportunities to score points and we weren’t patient enough and didn’t have enough composure at crucial times.”

TEAMS

Ulster: Payne, Bowe, Cave, Wallace, Trimble, Jackson, Pienaar, Court, Best, Afoa, Henderson, Tuohy, Williams, Henry, Wilson.

Replacements: McComb for Bowe (78), P Marshall for Wallace (70), Gilroy for Trimble (58), L Marshall for Jackson (63), Black for Court (70), Lutton for Tuohy (80), Diack for Williams (75)

Not Used: Brady.

Northampton: Foden, K Pisi, G Pisi, May, Elliott, Myler, Dickson, Tonga’uiha, Haywood, Doran-Jones, Manoa, Clark, Wood, Dowson, van Velze.

Replacements: A Waller for Tonga’uiha (65), McMillian for Haywood (80), Mujati for Doran-Jones (54), Sorenson for Clark (64), Lawes for van Velze (26).

Not Used: Roberts, Lamb, Burrell.

Ref: Nigel Owens (Wales).

Sunday’s games

Castres 10-8 Glasgow

Castres (3) 10

  • Tries: Caballero
  • Cons: Kirkpatrick
  • Pens: Teulet

Glasgow (8) 8

  • Tries: Barclay
  • Pens: Horne

Ruaridh Jackson hit the post with a late penalty as Glasgow fell to a fourth Heineken Cup loss at Castres.

The visitors dominated the first half but only had a John Barclay try to show for their high-tempo approach.

Wave after wave of Castres attacks were repelled after the break but Yannick Caballero eventually touched down, with two Glasgow players in the sin-bin.

Trailing by two points, Jackson had the chance to win it for Glasgow on 78 minutes only to strike an upright.

Castres move up to second in Pool 4, with Glasgow propping up the section on a meagre two points.

Peter Horne and Romain Teulet traded penalties in the opening exchanges, with Glasgow looking the more menacing side.

Nikola Matawalu was outstanding for Gregor Townsend’s team; the Fijian scrum-half a buzzbomb in attack and a lion in defence.

Glasgow winger DTH van der Merwe was denied a try by the outstretched hand of an opponent, as Sean Lamont aimed an offload at the Canadian in the corner.

Matawalu was then downed just short of the try-line after a quick tap and go.

A swift break from Tommy Seymour sliced through the home ranks but Horne, who missed a long-range penalty, could not keep up with the winger and the ball popped to a Castres man.

Teulet failed with two long-range penalties as the hosts struggled to match Glasgow’s intensity.

And the visitors’ good work was rewarded with a score on the stroke of half-time.

Ryan Wilson split the French defence with a brilliant break and found Barclay in support.

The skipper pulled a hamstring on collecting the ball but still had the strength and will to plunge over the line, with two opponents grappling all over him.

Horne missed the conversion attempt but Glasgow went into the break the much happier side.

Castres upped the pace after their lethargic first 40 minutes and twice kicked penalties into the corner but could not find a way past the resolute Warriors.

After soaking up some intense pressure, Glasgow almost sprung a surprise second try when Matawalu embarked on an amazing run from deep, only to be bulldozed over five metres short, without a support player in sight.

Castres rumbled forward with their driving maul but a combination of slack handling and stout defending kept them out as tempers started to fray.

Glasgow were reduced to 14 men when Tom Ryder was punished for taking out a man in the air at a line-out.

The French side were very fortunate to keep a full compliment of players when the match officials missed a violent stamp on Moray Low’s head from replacement Ibrahim Diarra.

There were loud cries for a penalty try when a scrum was twice collapsed near the Warriors’ line and, at the third attempt, Matawalu saved the day by hacking clear after getting a glimpse of the ball.

The visitors found themselves down to 13 when Byron McGuigan was yellow-carded for a foolish late block.

And Castres finally broke through as Caballero was carefully guided over during a composed drive, with Dan Kirkpatrick adding the extras.

With Ryder back on for the last few minutes, Glasgow were handed a chance to snatch an unlikely win when a scrum went down 30 metres in front of the posts but Jackson was inches away from glory.

TEAMS

Castres: Teulet, Bonnefond, Cabannes, Lamerat, Garvey, Tales, Lacrampe, Lazar, Bonello, Coetzee, Rolland, Tekori, Bornman, Caballero, Wannenburg. Replacements: Dulin for Teulet (65), Sanchou for Cabannes (59), Kirkpatrick for Tales (52), Taumoepeau for Lazar (59), Wihongi for Coetzee (50), Samson for Rolland (63), Diarra for Wannenburg (50). Not Used: Mach.

Glasgow: Maitland, Seymour, S. Lamont, Horne, van der Merwe, Jackson, Matawalu, Reid, MacArthur, Low, Swinson, Ryder, Eddie, Barclay, Wilson. Replacements: Morrison for Horne (61), McGuigan for van der Merwe (65), Kennedy for Matawalu (73), Hall for MacArthur (66), Hunter for Low (71), Campbell for Swinson (61), Harley for Barclay (41). Not Used: Grant.

Sin Bin: Ryder (66). McGuigan (71)

Att: 10,000

Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).

Saracens 19-13 Munster

Saracens (10) 19

  • Tries: Strettle
  • Cons: Farrell
  • Pens: Farrell (4)

Munster (10) 13

  • Tries: Howlett
  • Cons: O’Gara
  • Pens: O’Gara (2)

Saracens took control of Heineken Cup Pool One after beating visitors Munster in an absorbing clash at Vicarage Road.

Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell and Munster counterpart Ronan O’Gara exchanged penalties before David Strettle’s try put the hosts ahead.

Munster captain Doug Howlett touched down after James Downey’s interception, but Farrell’s three second-half kicks put Saracens top with two games left.

O’Gara missed a penalty for 16-16 as Munster claimed a losing bonus point.

Both sides started the fourth round of matches locked on 10 points and knew victory would allow them to leapfrog Racing Metro, who moved top by beating Edinburgh on Friday, at the top of Pool One.

Questions had been raised about Farrell’s temperament after he missed four of his seven penalty attempts as Saracens slumped to a 15-9 defeat in the reverse fixture last weekend.

But Sarries boss Mark McCall decided to switch Farrell to number 10 at the expense of Charlie Hodgson – and his faith was justified as the England international kept his cool to kick his team to victory.

Qualification is now firmly in the hands of the Premiership side who would qualify for the knockout stage with wins against Racing Metro and Edinburgh.

However two-time champions Munster, who have only failed to reach the quarter-finals once in the past 14 seasons, remain firmly in the hunt for a place as one of the two best-placed runners up.

Munster looked nervy in the opening 10 minutes as Farrell pushed an early drop-goal attempt wide before landing a long-range penalty.

O’Gara, the all-time leading points scorer in the Heineken Cup, missed his first opportunity but immediately made amends after pressure from the Munster pack forced Farrell into holding on to a high ball.

With qualification stakes high, there was a raucous atmosphere around Vicarage Road from kick-off. But the noise levels were raised even higher when Strettle raced on to a beautifully-weighted chip from Richard Wigglesworth that sliced open a flat Munster defence, to touch down.

However, the home side’s lead lasted just five minutes before Munster were presented the simplest of opportunities to cancel out Strettle’s try. Downey telegraphed Farrell’s pass to intercept and race clear before offloading to the supporting Howlett, who provided an extra burst of energy to surge over the line.

With the pouring rain starting to become more influential, the home side resumed in the same vein at the start of the second half as Munster continued to soak up the pressure.

O’Gara’s penalty was cancelled out by two more from Farrell before Saracens were reduced to 14 men when flanker Will Fraser was penalised for a high tackle.

Munster tried to press their numerical advantage as they pounded the Saracens defence, but the hosts remained firm and forced O’Gara into a drop goal attempt, which he put wide.

Uncharacteristically, the Ireland international pushed wide another in-range penalty and Farrell’s fourth effort sealed a potentially vital win.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:

“Hopefully this was a bit of a coming of age for us, but after four games you want to control your destiny.

“We have to go to Racing Metro and potentially there are more twists and turns to come in this group.

“We played some really good stuff in attack and dug in when we needed to. Our performance had a bit of everything and we showed real character.”

Munster boss Rob Penney:

“We have still 10 points to play for and who knows what will happen.

“I am very optimistic that this group of players can turn this around as they are hugely talented.

“I can’t praise the boys highly enough, but their scrum improved substantially and their lineout was very good.”

 TEAMS

Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Brad Barritt, David Strettle; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Rhys Gill, Schalk Brits, Matt Stevens; Steve Borthwick (capt), Mouritz Botha; George Kruis, Will Fraser, Kelly Brown.

Replacements: Wyles for Goode (62), De Kock for Wigglesworth (51), Vunipola for Gill (41), Smit for Brits (60). Not Used: Du Plessis, Sheriff, Joubert, Hodgson.

Sin Bin: Fraser (62).

Munster: Felix Jones; Doug Howlett (capt), Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan; Dave O’Callaghan, Peter O’Mahony, James Coughlan.

Replacements: O’Dea for Jones (18), Horan for du Preez (71), Archer for Botha (78), Butler for P. O’Mahony (67). Not Used: Varley, B. Holland, Williams, Keatley.

Att: 16,223

Ref: Jerome Garces (France).

Toulon 62-0 Sale

Toulon (17) 62

  • Tries: Orioli, Michalak, Van Niekerk 2, Kubriashvili, S Armitage, D Armitage, Wulf, Smith
  • Cons: Michalak 6, Wilkinson
  • Pens: Michalak

Sale (0) 0

Toulon thrashed Sale to maintain their 100% record in the group stage of the Heineken Cup.

The French side were below par in last weekend’s 17-6 victory at Sale, but were far sharper at the Stade Felix Mayol as they ran in nine tries.

Having won their opening three matches, Toulon rested a host of key players for the reverse fixture against Sale.

Englishmen Andrew Sheridan, Jonny Wilkinson and Simon Shaw were among those to come off the bench.

Michalak kicked the first points of the day after five minutes but Sale then kept the French side at bay until the half-hour mark.

However, a flurry of scoring before the break saw Jean-Charles Orioli and Michalak cross for tries, both converted, as Toulon took command.

Sale’s Fraser McKenzie and Toulon substitute Shaw were shown yellow cards in a second half that became something of a rout.

England internationals Steffon and Delon Armitage were among the try-scorers, with Wilkinson replacing Michalak on 67 minutes and making one conversion.

Sale Sharks director of rugby John Mitchell:

“The team is disappointed, as well as individuals with their own performances.

“I’ve been looking at this group of players ahead of the Christmas period and I certainly know a lot more about some individuals after that performance.

“Some of the characters have been revealed and I don’t have a lot of choice in some positions but we don’t have any regrets – we got what we deserved. Toulon were exceptional.”

TEAMS

Toulon: D Armitage, Wulf, Mermoz, Giteau, Smith, Michalak, Tillous-Borde, Jenkins, Orioli, Kubriashvili, Botha, Kennedy, Gunther, van Niekerk, S Armitage.

Replacements: Bastareaud for D Armitage (64), Wilkinson for Michalak (69), Sheridan for Jenkins (60), Bruno for Orioli (60), Hayman for Kubriashvili (75), Shaw for Botha (40), Suta for Gunther (70), Fernandez Lobbe for van Niekerk (72).

Sin Bin: Shaw (56).

Sale: Miller, Jennings, Cueto, Leota, Amesbury, Cipriani, Cliff, Harrison, Croall, Roberts, Gray, McKenzie, Gaskell, Seymour, Vernon.

Replacements: Tuitupou for Amesbury (49), Willis for Cliff (54), Cobilas for Harrison (80), Buckley for Roberts (48), Holmes for McKenzie (74), Powell for Gaskell (49). Not Used: Cruse, Myall.

Sin Bin: McKenzie (51).

Att: 15,000

Ref: John Lacey (Ireland)

Tables after four rounds

Pool 1 Table

  Team

P

W

D

L

F

A

BP

PTS

1 Saracens

4

3

0

1

103

41

2

14

2 Racing Metro 92

4

3

0

1

69

59

0

12

3 Munster

4

2

0

2

78

50

3

11

4 Edinburgh

4

0

0

4

12

112

0

0

Pool 2 Table

  Team

P

W

D

L

F

A

BP

PTS

1 Leicester

4

3

0

1

95

83

2

14

2 Toulouse

4

3

0

1

92

61

1

13

3 Ospreys

4

2

0

2

91

92

1

9

4 Treviso

4

0

0

4

76

118

1

1

Pool 3 Table

  Team

P

W

D

L

F

A

BP

PTS

1 Harlequins

4

4

0

0

180

54

3

19

2 Biarritz

4

2

0

2

82

79

1

9

3 Connacht

4

2

0

2

63

71

0

8

4 Zebre

4

0

0

4

46

167

0

0

Pool 4 Table

  Team

P

W

D

L

F

A

BP

PTS

1 Ulster

4

3

0

1

94

41

3

15

2 Castres

4

3

0

1

57

71

0

12

3 Northampton

4

2

0

2

56

70

2

10

4 Glasgow

4

0

0

4

37

62

2

2

Pool 5 Table

  Team

P

W

D

L

F

A

BP

PTS

1 Clermont Auvergne

4

4

0

0

138

61

2

18

2 Leinster

4

2

0

2

62

62

2

10

3 Exeter

4

2

0

2

70

91

1

9

4 Scarlets

4

0

0

4

65

121

2

2

Pool 6 Table

  Team

P

W

D

L

F

A

BP

PTS

1 Toulon

4

4

0

0

138

36

2

18

2 Montpellier

4

3

0

1

118

100

1

13

3 Sale

4

1

0

3

58

145

0

4

4 Cardiff Blues

4

0

0

4

92

125

1

1

 

5 Responses to Heineken Cup: Round Four Roundup

  • 1

    Great win for the Saints in Ulster.

    Really makes that group interesting.

    Mujati was a monster when he came on.

    Wake up HM.

  • 2

    Just read on Super Sport that J. Kruger has signed with Racing Metro.

    ————————————————————————————————————–

    Kruger signs for Racing

    ——————————————————————————–

    by Brenden Nel 18 December 2012, 09:33

    Springbok Juandre Kruger has turned down a contract renewal with the Vodacom Bulls and has decided to join French club Racing Metro in June.

    Kruger, who made his debut for the Boks this year and played eight tests, will leave the Bulls at the end of June when his contract runs out and although the Bulls wanted to keep him until the end of the Super Rugby Season, the lock opted to move to Paris.

    While it isn’t being expressly mentioned, Kruger has opted for a large contract in Euros as his future, as well as the experience of playing overseas, over an almost certain Bok career.

    Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has chosen players who are based overseas in his first year, but also indicated that he will stick to a squad from 2013 to take through to the World Cup. By making the move Kruger is hoping that Meyer will still choose him even if he is based in France, and has gambled on his Bok career.

    The Bulls are understandably miffed as sources confirm that they had a verbal agreement with Kruger last week, whereafter he returned to change his mind and then informed the Bok management of his move rather than the Bulls.

    Kruger has not been available for comment as he is with the Bulls team at their pre-season training camp outside Rustenburg.

    Vodacom Bulls Head Coach Frans Ludeke said they understand the reasons why Kruger decided to leave.

    “It is always good to know and to hear that your players are wanted all over the world, but unfortunately it is not always possible to hold on to them once those offers start coming in,” Ludeke said.

    “With the exchange rate as it is at the moment, it is very difficult to remain on level terms with those clubs when it comes to contract talks. We were very keen to extend his contract, but financially it was just not possible. We are very happy for Juandre, as it is a great offer he received, but that left us in an unfortunate position that we could not match it.”

    Ludeke has no problem with Kruger’s continued commitment to the Vodacom Bulls in 2013.

    “Not at all. Juandre is a real pro and I know we can still expect a 110% effort from him. We sat down as a group recently to discuss our goals and objectives for 2013 and I am very confident that we will get an exceptional contribution from Juandre right till the last game of our season.”

  • 3

    Meyer has most certainly sent out the wrong message to players. Many might do the same and head overseas to play their rugby, knowing that they will still get selected to play for the Boks. We should choose no more that 2 player playing in the nh next year. Have to make it quite clear the players playing here will get first choice selection.

  • 4

    1 @ Scrumdown:
    Meyer did try and get him while Boks were on their eoyt. Mujati does not have a SA passport and will not be given one unless he comes back to live and play here. Well that was the outcome this time round.

    So we do have to give kudos to Meyer for trying to get him into the Bok squad. It is now up to Mujati if he wants to play for Boks or not. He will have to move back to SA first it seems. I doubt he will do that.

  • 5

    4 @ Puma:
    Mujati is not blinded by the SARU smoke and mirrors and has publicly stated that he won’t be returning to SA as he now has a young family to worry about and that is more important than playing for the SA National side.

    My real point is thus, if SARU really wanted to use him they could find a way. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. One only has to look at decisions made in SA on a daily basis and it’s blatantly clear that ANYTHING is possible with either enough money, enough political will or enough underhandedness.

    SARU as an organisation are not exactly the bastions of good coprporate governance that they should be, so a crooked deal here or there wouldn’t tarnish their image too much.



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