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On the road: O"Driscoll is quickly forgotten as McLeish checks in

On the road: O'Driscoll is quickly forgotten as McLeish checks in



22:34 GMT, 30 December 2012

The accusation levelled so often at Nottingham Forest this last decade and more is that the club have taken up residence in their past.

As they sang of the old mist rolling in from the Trent on Saturday, pre-match screening of goals from the likes of Martin O’Neill and John Robertson only lent weight to that impression. The City Ground can look worn on bleak days like this, not quite Ashton Gate, but not quite Old Trafford either.

And yet in another way Forest are thoroughly modern. Now foreign-owned, they are ambitious, fast-moving, scything down managers.

New man in the dugout: Alex McLeish is presented to the Nottingham Forest fans

New man in the dugout: Alex McLeish is presented to the Nottingham Forest fans

Ask Sean O’Driscoll. A week ago O’Driscoll was preparing Forest to defeat Leeds 4-2 on Boxing Day; on Saturday Alex McLeish was introduced as the 12th Forest manager since Pierre van Hooijdonk went on strike and they were last in the Premier League, in 1999.

McLeish waved, 23,000 applauded, for this was a more than cordial welcome, unrecognisable from the hostility that greeted McLeish at Aston Villa.

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Leveling up: Billy Sharp scores the equaliser for Forest

The club will have, in that tedious phrase, moved on. As soon as the football starts rolling this is what can happen, the present scurries by and demands attention.

On Saturday, as Crystal Palace swept the ball around having taken a ninth-minute lead through the lithe Glenn Murray, home thoughts turned not to whether the new manager was up to it but to whether the Forest players would get the ball back.

McLeish was in the directors’ box, having agreed that coach Rob Kelly would pick the team.

It was a good Championship game between two sides committed to passing the ball and Billy ‘Razor-sharp’ Sharp, as Ian Holloway called him, hit the post with a header on the half-hour.

Forgotten man: Sean O'Driscoll was sacked after Forest's win over Leeds

Forgotten man: Sean O'Driscoll was sacked after Forest's win over Leeds

In first-half injury time Forest’s Andy Reid, who outshone substituted Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, delivered a bullet of an equaliser.

That teed up an ebb-and-flow second half and Murray looked to have nicked it for the visitors nine minutes from time with an improvised header that again demonstrated what a striker the 29-year-old has become — a Rickie Lambert level of development.

Imagine what a late Palace winner would have done for McLeish. No manager needs to begin on the back foot, so when Reid’s persistence yielded one last chance, and Sharp took it, the City Ground roared and McLeish sighed with relief.

He was able to discuss the ‘brilliant reception’ he received and his new players’ ‘great character’, though he was irritated by a question about maintaining Forest’s traditional style.

Holloway was also irritated — by speculation about Zaha that the manager himself brought up.

Stop the speculation: Palace boss Ian Hollowat is annoyed with the talk linking Wifred Zaha with a move away from the club

Stop the speculation: Palace boss Ian Hollowat is annoyed with the talk linking Wifred Zaha with a move away from the club

‘We almost won a game without him, that would have been a shock to you lot, wouldn’t it’ Holloway said of Zaha in response to a question about Murray.

No-one mentioned Sean O’Driscoll. The Forest owners felt no need to offer an explanation for his departure in the match programme. The present was scurrying by.

So has just over half a season. That becomes the preoccupation: Forest are one place and three points off the play-offs, Palace are two places and four points off automatic promotion.

Thick and fast: tomorrow Palace host tumbling Wolves and Forest travel to managerless Blackburn Rovers.

Leaders Cardiff, meanwhile, are at Birmingham City.

Cardiff’s relentlessness — they have won eight of their last 10 games — is giving the others jitters. Holloway made the telling comment about squad strength and referred to Leicester’s new signing Chris Wood.

‘Look at Leicester, I think they’ve already secured two signings,’ Holloway said.

‘Their owners have got more money than other owners.’

How much Forest’s new owners possess will help dictate whether McLeish is regarded as a success or not.

Assessing that, though, is not straightforward.

‘Should I really talk about owners and their aspirations’ Holloway said. ‘Not really, not if you can win 4-2 and lose your job.

‘Even if you win these days, you don’t keep your job.’

McCarthy has last laugh

Winning return: Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy won at his old club Wolves

Winning return: Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy won at his old club Wolves

What Wolverhampton Wanderers didn’t need was Mick McCarthy.

That is the conclusion the Wolves board reached in February, when the team were 18th in the Premier League.

Wolves had won five games last season until that stage; they did not win one once McCarthy had gone.

They finished 20th and were relegated.

What Wolves’ new manager Stale Solbakken did not need on Saturday was McCarthy returning with his new club Ipswich Town and winning 2-0.

The result left Wolves 17th with three wins from their last 15 matches, and nine defeats. Ipswich are now one point behind.

Wolves are at Selhurst Park tomorrow. They are then at Luton Town in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.

Where will Solbakken be next Monday

Cardiff 24 Montpellier 35: Blues out of Heineken Cup

Cardiff 24 Montpellier 35: European dream over for Blues as Williams sees red



15:09 GMT, 9 December 2012

Fourteen-man Cardiff had their Heineken Cup aspirations ended as they fell to a third straight Pool Six defeat at the hands of Montpellier.

Teenage fly-half Rhys Patchell slotted seven penalties and a drop goal for the home side, who had scrum-half Lloyd Williams sent off after 25 minutes for a tip tackle on opposite number Benoit Paillaugue.

Pierre Berard, Mamuka Gorgodze and Timoci Nagusa all crossed for Montpellier, with the classy Paillaugue kicking 20 points.

Godzilla: Mamuka Gorgodze goes over for Montpellier

Godzilla: Mamuka Gorgodze goes over for Montpellier

The Blues' defeat adds to the gloom that has enveloped Welsh rugby, with the regions managing a collective one win from nine Heineken Cup matches to go with the national side's run of seven straight defeats.

The injury-ravaged Blues, without Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, Bradley Davies and a host of others, did make a good fist of the opening quarter against a Montpellier side resting several of their first-choice names.

Patchell had the hosts on the board inside four minutes with a penalty and fell just short with a long-distance effort just seconds earlier.

But there were already early warning signs for the Cardiff scrum, an Achilles heel throughout the season.

An emphatic drive from the Montpellier pack allowed Paillaugue to slot a monster 50-metre penalty, and another strong shove gave the scrum-half his second three-pointer after Patchell had briefly put the hosts back ahead.

Patchell, showing a good degree of composure for one so young, replied with another penalty to make it 9-6 at the end of a scrappy opening quarter lacking in creativity.

No way through: Alex Cuthbert is halted by Pierre Barard

No way through: Alex Cuthbert is halted by Pierre Barard

But the Blues' hopes were dealt a major blow when Wales international Williams was dismissed.

The home crowd howled their derision at referee John Lacey, but the official was left with little choice after Williams lifted opposite number Paillaugue and dropped him on to the back of his neck after the ball had squirted out of a Blues scrum.

Paillaugue dusted himself down to level the scores from the resulting penalty, only for Patchell to again respond, this time with a well-taken drop goal.

But the home side's numerical disadvantage soon told as Montpellier built patiently through the phases to work an overlap on the left for wing Berard to cross, with the reliable boot of Paillaugue adding the conversion from the touchline.

Patchell kept Cardiff in it with yet another penalty, but when Dafydd Hewitt came in at the side of the ruck Paillaugue struck to leave the visitors 19-15 to the good at the break.

Try time: Timoci Nagusa scores Montpellier's third and final try

Try time: Timoci Nagusa scores Montpellier's third and final try

The Blues turned round with a strong wind behind them and Patchell used it to bring them within a point with a huge three-pointer from almost his own 10-yard line.

Montpellier should have made the game safe 15 minutes into the second half when Yoan Audrin picked off Patchell's pass.

The young fly-half did brilliantly to haul the winger down, but when the ball was recycled the visitors had a huge overlap, only for Gorgodze's final pass to Berard to be ruled forward.

Paillaugue did at least re-establish the four-point lead with his latest penalty, and the French side's second try followed with 14 minutes to go.

Fly-half Santiago Fernandez gathered in Paillaugue's kick to take Montpellier deep into Cardiff territory. Desperate scrambling defence kept out Berard, but Gorgodze stretched out to dot down through the ruck.

The hosts battled gamely and Patchell quickly slotted another two penalties to get the Blues back to within three points.

But Paillaugue steadied any French nerves before replacement wing Nagusa sealed the win by finishing smartly in the corner.

Exeter 12 Clermont Auvergne 46: Wesley Fofana inspires second half blitz

Exeter 12 Clermont Auvergne 46: Fofana inspires second half blitz of rookies

Sportsmail Reporter


19:46 GMT, 20 October 2012



19:46 GMT, 20 October 2012

Clermont Auvergne, last season's Heineken Cup semi-finalists, went back to the top of Pool Five thanks to a 13-minute burst at the start of the second half.

The visitors were quick off the mark at the restart, scoring 15 points to regain the lead – which they held on to and increased without reply.

Exeter will question the services of the TMO as their England flanker Tom Johnson appeared to have tackled Clermont Auvergne's centre Wesley Fofana – who went on to score a try in the corner early in the second half which changed the face of the game.

French flyer: Wesley Fofana crosses for Clermont

French flyer: Wesley Fofana crosses for Clermont

The Chiefs, last season's losing Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finalists, named an unchanged starting line-up from the side that lost 9-6 away to Heineken Cup champions Leinster in Dublin last weekend.

Clermont were forced to make one change after their Scotland international lock Nathan Hines was banned for six weeks, so French international Julien Pierre came in to the second row alongside Jamie Cudmore.

Hines received the ban from an independent disciplinary hearing for stamping on Scarlets' wing Morgan Stoddart after being cited for the incident, which happened during the first half of their 49-16 Heineken Cup victory at Stade Marcel Michelin last Saturday.

Exeter dominated the early passages of play and fly-half Gareth Steenson put the home side in front in the third minute with a 48-metre penalty and then the Irishman added a second from 25 metres on 10 minutes.

The visitors then came into the game but France international scrum-half Morgan Parra, who kicked 17 points last week against the Scarlets, was off-target with a 30-metre penalty and then wing Napolioni Nalaga had a try ruled out by TMO Kevin Beggs.

High hopes: Jamie Cudmore wins lineout ball for Clermont

High hopes: Jamie Cudmore wins lineout ball for Clermont

But after a poor Chiefs lineout the visitors seized the ball and the Fijian international squeezed in the corner with Parra adding the touchline conversion to put Clermont Auvergne in front.

Exeter then showed that they were prepared to pursue running rugby and, after 25 minutes, the visitors were again penalised for going off their feet and Steenson landed a 41m penalty to restore the the advantage for the Devon side.

The visitors were then penalised for wheeling a scrum 10m from their own line and Steenson landed his fourth kick.

Exeter again squandered another opportunity when in an attacking position and then when they were then forced to defend there was a yellow card for number eight Ritchie Baxter for obstruction. Parra reduced the arrears to two points at the break with a penalty.

Clermont Auvergne looked dangerous in the early stages of the second half against 14-man Exeter and full-back Luke Arscott and Ian Whitten were forced to bundle Nalaga in to touch just short of the line.

Hands-on: Clermont's Vincent Debaty and Ian Whitten

Hands-on: Clermont's Vincent Debaty and Ian Whitten

The visitors regained the lead after five minutes of the half through a Parra penalty followed by Wesley Fofana breaking from 30 metres to score, despite the video replay showed a foot in touch after a Tom Johnson half-tackle, which Parra converted.

A second try followed soon after as Wales international full-back Lee Byrne gave the scoring pass to flanker Julien Bonnaire for a 25-12 lead. But Exeter, like when they are behind in the Premiership, were not prepared to let their heads drop.

As the game went into the final 10 minutes Clermont Auvergne went in search of a try-scoring bonus point with New Zealand international wing Sitiveni Sivivatu, converted by Parra, followed immediately by a second from Fofana which David Skrela converted.

Just before the final whistle Exeter's replacement fly-half Ignacio Mieres was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on. From the tap penalty Nalaga went over for his second try with Skrela adding the extras.

Heineken Cup 2012: Ulster 41 Castres 17

Ulster 41 Castres 17: Last season's losing finalists bag maximum points after Pienaar's bonus try



21:51 GMT, 12 October 2012

Last season's beaten finalists Ulster opened their Heineken Cup campaign with maximum points thanks to Ruan Pienaar's dramatic bonus try.

The newly-returned Pienaar got down under the posts after Ulster had broken out of their 22 in injury time with the last move of the game.

Ulster's other tries came from Paul Marshall (2) and Andrew Trimble, with Paddy Jackson making a vital contribution of 21 points from the boot on a pulsating night for new Ulster coach Mark Anscombe's side.

Gotcha: Chris Henry (centre) is tackled by two Castres players

Gotcha: Chris Henry (centre) is tackled by two Castres players

It was not all plain sailing for Ulster, though, who lost Stephen Ferris prior to the game with a back injury.

Castres made a brighter start and Romain Teulet slotted a fourth-minute penalty after Ulster were penalised for dragging down a maul.

But Ulster responded three minutes later as Paddy Jackson slotted a straightforward penalty after Castres had strayed offside.

Ulster carved out a try in the left corner from Trimble one minute later.

A Castres high kick went loose and Jared Payne made ground rather easily to set Trimble up for the try.

Jackson then landed a superb conversion from the touchline and Ulster were in front, soon opening up a 10-point lead when Jackson added a second penalty.

Paul Marshall's chip and chase then led to Ulster's second try in the 21st minute, the scrum-half dotting down near the posts to give Jackson an easy conversion.

Castres needed to hit back and Pierre Bernard finally launched a cross-kick left for Marc Andreu to score.

Revenge: Henry (right) nails one of his opponents later int he game

Revenge: Henry (right) nails one of his opponents later int he game

Too much Seremaia Bai (right) admits defeat in the final moments of the game

Too much Seremaia Bai (right) admits defeat in the final moments of the game

Teulet added the extras but Ulster immediately hit back with Jackson's third penalty after Castres were pinged for not releasing.

Jackson's fifth kick from five attempts was the final score of the half and Ulster led 23-10 at the break.
It was not long before they had their third try, Iain Henderson's surge allowing Paul Marshall to dart over with a blindside break close to the line.

The decision went upstairs to the TMO before Jackson missed his first kick of the night when trying to convert.

He atoned for his miss three minutes later with a long-range penalty that took Ulster to 31-10.

The visitors hit back once more and, after pummelling the Ulster line, winger Marcel Garvey slid over.

Referee Andrew Small went to the TMO before the try was given and Teulet added the conversion.

Ulster's cause was hindered, however, when Tom Court was shown a yellow card for hauling down the Castres maul three minutes before the hour mark.

But Ulster still increased their lead through another Jackson penalty before Pienaar made his first appearance since the Four Nations Championship when he came on for Paul Marshall.

The home side survived Tom Court's binning but struggled to put any more points on the board, even with Castres prop Yannick Forestier being sent to the bin in the 75th minute.

But in the game's final play, Ulster broke out of their 22 when Johann Muller won a ball at the breakdown.

Luke Marshall's break set up Pienaar who showed a lovely swerve and pace to get through the last line of Castres' defence for the bonus try, which Jackson converted.

Gio Aplon in for South Africa against England

Aplon in to face England as Lambie and Kirchner remained sidelined for South Africa



11:59 GMT, 20 June 2012

South Africa have been forced into another change of full-back for the third Test against England in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Gio Aplon will take the No 15 shirt at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium from Pat Lambie, who has failed to recover from the ankle injury sustained in the second Test last weekend.

Zane Kirchner, who played full-back in the first Test, was also missing from the side named by coach Heyneke Meyer due to a knee injury.

Opportunity: South Africa have been forced to call on Gio Aplon at full-back

Opportunity: South Africa have been forced to call on Gio Aplon at full-back

South Africa team v England

G Aplon, JP Pietersen, J de Villiers (capt),
W Olivier, B Habana, M Steyn, F Hougaard,
T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis,
E Etzebeth, J Kruger, M Coetzee, J Potgieter,
P Spies.

Replacements: A Strauss, W Kruger, F van der Merwe, R Kankowski, R Pienaar, E Jantjies, B Basson.

The Springboks, who are looking to wrap up a 3-0 series whitewash, have made two other changes from the side which won in Johannesburg last Saturday.

Uncapped flanker Jacques Potgieter will take over from the injured Willem Alberts while Wynand Olivier will return to the side to replace inside centre Frans Steyn, who is getting married this weekend.

Meyer said: 'Injuries have forced us to make a number of changes, which is never ideal, but this provides an opportunity for players like Gio, Wynand and Jacques to put up their hands.

'Gio is our third full-back of the series, but he's experienced and has been part of our planning.

'Wynand came on as a replacement in both of the first two Tests and knows our game plan, while Jacques has impressed this year as a very strong ball-carrier.

Milestone: Pierre Spies will win his 50th cap for South Africa against England

Milestone: Pierre Spies will win his 50th cap for South Africa against England

'Hopefully he can continue with the good work Willem has done in the last fortnight.'

Meyer has included another potential debutant in fly-half Elton Jantjies on the bench.

Another change sees Ryan Kankowski take over from Keegan Daniel among the replacements.

Number eight Pierre Spies will win his 50th cap while Meyer has also announced that captain Jean de Villiers, initially appointed for just this series, will continue as skipper throughout the 2012 South African season.

Meyer has himself impressed by making a winning start in his first series but he has warned against complacency.

The former Leicester boss said: 'I am happy with the huge strides that have been made in the series but England are not a side that are going to lie down.'

South Africa v England live – the first Test in Durban

LIVE: South Africa v England – follow all the action from the first Test in Durban



15:12 GMT, 9 June 2012

Stuart Lancaster's England side take on South Africa in the first match of a three-Test series at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday. The tour is England's first since their ill-fated World Cup campaign in New Zealand last year, while the match will be Lancaster's first official international as permanent head coach after he was awarded the job following a promising Six Nations campaign.

South Africa 0 England 3

South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner; 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana; 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 3 Jannie du Plessis; 4 Eben Ebetzeth, 5 Juandre Kruger; 6 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Willem Alberts, 8 Pierre Spies.

Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 K Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Wynand Olivier.

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Ben Foden; 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 Dan Cole; 4 Mouritz Botha, 5 Geoff Parling; 6 Tom Johnson, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan.

Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Paul Doran-Jones, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 Phil Dowson; 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Jonathan Joseph.

Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)

9 mins: Great mark from Brown under pressure from Habana from Hougaard's precise up-and-under. He then absolutely belts his clearance to the Springboks' 22.

South Africa 0-3 England

Farrell slots it straight down the middle! Great start from England.

6 mins: Penalty! Botha rather scrappily gathers the lineout but England break well through Tuilagi and Etzebeth is pinged for going in off his feet. Farrell has a chance 45 metres out, to the right of the posts.

4 mins: Walsh penalises the England front row for an early hit at the scrum. Du Plessis takes the tap but is pinged for holding on.

3 mins: England steal possession and again but Habana breaks well and move into England's half. Scrum South Africa as England knock on. A frantic start.

2 mins: Hougaard dwells at the ruck and England steal the ball and clear their lines. That's better.

1 mins: Morne Steyn gets us under way, and it's a shocking start from England, who spill the ball into touch. Lineout on England's 22, Du Plessis to throw…

4.00pm: No sportsmen sing national anthems like rugby players. Pure passion from both sides. This is going to be epic.

3.53pm: The atmosphere is electric inside Kings Park – or the Shark Tank as it is known – as the players run out on to pitch. Robshaw looks pumped up, De Villiers looks nervous.

3.40pm: This is not only the dawning of a new era for England, but for the Springboks too. They have a new coach in Heyneke Meyer, a new captain in Jean de Villiers, and field three debutants as they look to build a new side without retired greats John Smit and Victor Matfield. Pack brutes Bakkies Botha and Schalk Burger are both out injured too and Meyer only met up for the first time with his squad this week. There could not be a better time to face South Africa, one would assume.

3.30pm: It's time for the talking to stop and the action to begin. We've all been singing England's praises since Stuart Lancaster took over at the start of the year, but this series is undoubtedly the biggest test this new side has faced. Can the Red Rose cut it with the big boys of the southern hemisphere We'll soon find out…

Tough Test: Stuart Lancaster is on his first tour as England head coach

Tough Test: Stuart Lancaster is on his first tour as England head coach

Six Nations 2012: Neil Jenkins says Wales will not underestimate France

Jenkins says Wales will give France full respect as they go in search of the Grand Slam



18:45 GMT, 13 March 2012

Skills coach Neil Jenkins says Wales will not be underestimating France when they go in search of a third RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam in eight seasons on Saturday.

Last weekend's 24-3 victory over Italy in Cardiff has set Wales up for another clean sweep, and they will meet a France side who have seen their own title hopes ended by two poor home performances.

Having won their opening two games France were on course to make the Millennium Stadium clash a winner-takes-all Grand Slam showdown, but a draw with Ireland in Paris followed by England's Stade de France success on Sunday has left them out of the championship picture.

No underestimation: Neil Jenkins says Wales will give France full respect

No underestimation: Neil Jenkins says Wales will give France full respect

Coach Philippe Saint-Andre has responded by making six changes to his squad as Julien Pierre, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Dimitri Yachvili, Alexis Palisson, Florian Fritz and Jean-Marcellin Buttin have all been called up.

But Wales have a poor record against the French, losing 11 of the last 14 meetings between the sides, including the heartbreaking World Cup semi-final reverse in Auckland in October.

And Jenkins says there is no way Wales will be taking their opponents lightly.

He said: 'We are playing a side who we have not beaten since 2008, they are a very good side and were very unlucky not to win the World Cup final.

'They beat us in the semi-final and as I have said we haven't beaten them since the last time we won the slam in 2008.

'We are under no illusions as to what is ahead of us on Saturday. They are a fantastic side with some great players and that defeat on Sunday will have hurt them more, and they will want to prove a lot of people wrong.

Race against time: Wales captain Sam Warburton is hoping to recover from a knee injury in time to be fit to face France

Race against time: Wales captain Sam Warburton is hoping to recover from a knee injury in time to be fit to face France

'He (Saint-Andre) has left a few players out, some sides do that in terms of losing games, sometimes France more than anyone else, but they have huge strength in depth and some of the players coming in are very impressive.

'Any side they put out will be a good side and they will be wanting to come to Cardiff and win on Saturday.'

Wales' main injury concern for this weekend is Sam Warburton. The captain and openside flanker missed the Italy game with a knee injury and is battling to be fit to face the opponents who he was red-carded against in that World Cup meeting.

And Jenkins says the Cardiff Blues back-rower is making good progress.

He said: 'He is going all right. He trained with us yesterday and this morning so fingers crossed he is going pretty well. He will train this afternoon and we will look at him after that.

Standing in their way: Philippe Saint-Andre and France stand between Wales and the Grand Slam

Standing in their way: Philippe Saint-Andre and France stand between Wales and the Grand Slam

'With Sam being captain and as good a player as he is we will probably give him as long as possible but this afternoon's session should be a good indicator of where he is at and we will see from there.'

Should Warburton be fit to play, he will not come up against France wing Vincent Clerc, the man he tip tackled to receive his red card from referee Alain Rolland in Auckland.

Clerc is absent with a shoulder injury, but Jenkins insists Wales have already drawn a line under the events of October.

He said: 'Things happen, and they happened on that day, but from our point of view we need to forget about that and I think we have done, we have moved forward.

'We can't do much about it, that is history as far as we are concerned. We want to move forward and look forward to Saturday's game.'

Six Nations 2012: France squad for Wales

France coach shuffles pack ahead of Grand Slam decider for Wales



14:30 GMT, 12 March 2012

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has reshuffled his squad ahead of their final RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales on Saturday.

Les Bleus head to Cardiff looking to derail Welsh hopes of landing the Grand Slam and Saint-Andre has made six changes, the most notable of which sees 19-year-old Clermont back Jean-Marcellin Buttin called up for the first time.

Tweak: Philippe Saint-Andre has called up the uncapped Jean-Marcellin Buttin

Tweak: Philippe Saint-Andre has called up the uncapped Jean-Marcellin Buttin

Julien Pierre, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Dimitri Yachvili, Alexis Palisson and Florian Fritz were all named as Saint-Andre reacts to yesterday's 24-22 home defeat to England which ended France's title hopes.

Julien Dupuy, Maxime Mermoz, Julien Malzieu and Lionel Nallet all make way while Vincent Clerc has a shoulder injury. There are also injury doubts over Thierry Dusautoir (knee), Imanol Harinordoquy (knee) and Julien Bonnaire (elbow).


Forwards: J Poux (Toulouse), N Mas (Perpignan), V Debaty (Clermont), D
Attoub (Stade Francais), D Szarzewski (Stade Francais), W Servat
(Toulouse), P Pape (Stade Francais), Y Maestri (Toulouse), J Pierre
(Clermont), T Dusautoir (Toulouse, captain), F Ouedraogo (Montpellier), J
Bonnaire (Clermont), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz), L Picamoles (Toulouse).

Backs: M Parra (Clermont), D Yachvili (Biarritz), F Trinh-Duc
(Montpellier), L Beauxis (Toulouse), W Fofana (Clermont), A Rougerie
(Clermont), F Fritz (Toulouse), A Palisson (Toulon), J Buttin
(Clermont), C Poitrenaud (Toulouse)

Montpellier 24 Bath 22: Late try piles on the misery for visitors in France

Montpellier 24 Bath 22: Late try piles on the misery for visitors in France

Bath's disappointing Heineken Cup campaign continued as they slumped to their fourth defeat in five matches this season after going down to a last-gasp try at the hands of Montpellier.

Bath had looked set for victory as two tries from lock Ryan Caldwell helped put them 22-17 ahead going into the final minute, but Montpellier snatched their first-ever Heineken Cup win when Timoci Nagusa went over for a score that was converted by Martin Bustos Moyano.

The result leaves Bath bottom of Pool Three on seven points, with Montpellier moving into second spot, level on 10 points with Glasgow but having played a game extra. Leinster lead the way on 16 points ahead of their meeting with Glasgow on Sunday.

False dawn: Bath's Matt Banahan scores a try against Montpellier

False dawn: Bath's Matt Banahan scores a try against Montpellier

It was Montpellier who were quickest out of the blocks at the Stade Yves du Manoir as they crossed for a try inside the opening minute through wing Pierre Berard.

Benoit Paillaugue added the extra points to make it 7-0 but Bath battled back from that early setback to take a 10-7 lead at the interval, Olly Barkley reducing the deficit with a penalty before then converting Caldwell's first try on the stroke of half-time.

A Paillaugue penalty levelled the scores up five minutes into the second half but Bath were back in front soon after when Caldwell went over for his second score, Tom Heathcote adding the extra points this time.

Stop: Bath's Nick Abendanon (centre) is tackled by winger Martin Bustos

Stop: Bath's Nick Abendanon (centre) is tackled by winger Martin Bustos

Bath's advantage lasted barely eight minutes before Montpellier made it 17-17 through a converted Alex Tulou score, but the Aviva Premiership side were soon back in the ascendancy as England international Matt Banahan scored their third try of the match in the 71st minute.

Heathcote was unable to add the extra points though, and that meant the French side, playing in only their second Heineken Cup campaign, knew a late converted try could still win them the match – and that is exactly what happened thanks to Nagusa and replacement Moyano.