Tag Archives: scrum

Amlin Challenge Cup match report: Bath 20 Stade Francais 36:

Bath 20 Stade Francais 36: Bath fury over spit incident as they bow out

PUBLISHED:

15:44 GMT, 6 April 2013

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UPDATED:

20:51 GMT, 6 April 2013

Peter Stringer was furious after being spat at by opposing scrum-half Jerome Fillol as Bath crashed out of Europe.

The Irish No 9 hopes his rival from Stade Francais will be hit with a long ban for the ugly bust-up which he labelled 'the lowest of the lows'.

Claas act: But Michael Claassens' try was not more than a consolation for Bath

Claas act: But Michael Claassens' try was not more than a consolation for Bath

Fillol could face a possible 10-week suspension if found guilty after losing his cool at a ruck.

Stringer, capped 98 times, was clearly upset and asked referee Nigel Owens if he had witnessed the incident.

Down and out: Bath players react to defeat

Down and out: Bath players react to defeat

The Welsh referee did not see Fillol
spit but the citing commissioner will take a dim view and the Frenchman
can expect the book to be thrown at him.

Stringer said: 'It's the lowest of
the lows and has no place on a rugby field. It's out of my hands now but
as it was seen on TV, hopefully it will be dealt with.'

No way through: Tom Biggs is tackled by Stade Francais' Hugo Bonneval

No way through: Tom Biggs is tackled by Stade Francais' Hugo Bonneval

The English challenge in the Amlin
Cup ended as Bath meekly bowed out. Two converted tries from Fijian
winger Waisea Vuidravuwalu and two penalties set up a 20-3 halftime lead
for the visitors.

Bath spent 20 minutes against 14 men
after Rabah Slimani and then Scott Lavalla were sin-binned, allowing
the home side back with a penalty try.

In control: Stade Francais's Jerome Fillol offloads the ball

In control: Stade Francais's Jerome Fillol offloads the ball

But a brace from Hugo Bonneval
stretched Stade's lead. Bath pulled tries back through Michael Claassens
and Jack Cuthbert but it was too late to avoid defeat.

Six Nations 2013: Tom Croft and Joe Launchbury named in England XV for Wales game

Launchbury passed fit and Croft returns for England's Grand Slam decider with Wales

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

10:16 GMT, 14 March 2013

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UPDATED:

14:12 GMT, 14 March 2013

England today named key forward Joe Launchbury to start against Wales on Saturday despite the lock sustaining an elbow injury last Sunday against Italy.

The inform Wasps lock has had treatment all week on an elbow injury raising concern that he would miss out on England’s attempt at winning a first Grand Slam 2003.

But Launchbury was given the all-clear
this morning for a Cardiff showdown which will see England field a team
showing four changes to the one which started out in the disappointing
18-11 win over Italy.

Scroll down for video

Back in action: Tom Croft is set to start for England for the first time since breaking his neck

Back in action: Tom Croft is set to start for England for the first time since breaking his neck

As predicted by Sportsmail, fly half
Owen Farrell, scrum-half Ben Youngs and flanker Tom Croft all return
while prop Joe Marler has won the vote ahead of Mako Vunipola at loose
head.

The four players who miss out – fly
half Toby Flood, scrum-half Danny Care, flanker James Haskell and
Vunipola – are all included on the England bench.

England's head coach coach Stuart
Lancaster said: ‘We want to finish well on what will be a fantastic
occasion in Cardiff. It will be a great experience for our English team.

'Every single player, whether they are
in the 23 or not this Saturday, has contributed to getting us in this
position and they should be proud of that.

'The support of the country has been great throughout the tournament and I am sure they will be right behind us come 5-o-clock.'

He added: 'Tom's extra lineout
presence will hopefully give us an advantage. He is clearly a quality
player and he has had a great impact since he has come back into the
team.

Ready for battle: Croft will try and help England win the Grand Slam

Ready for battle: Croft will try and help England win the Grand Slam

Ready to go: Launchbury has been passed fit to face Wales

Ready to go: Launchbury has been passed fit to face Wales

England team

'I see it as an 80-minute game. James Haskell's impact coming off the bench will serve us better.'

Lancaster took the same approach to his decision to start with Marler and use Mako Vunipola as a high-impact replacement.

“Both props will play a big contribution. We believe Joe will give us the solidity in the scrum and then as the game wears on Mako will come on and do his thing.”

Although Flood kicked all of England's points against Italy and did little wrong, Farrell has reclaimed the fly-half jersey after shaking the thigh injury he sustained against France.

The Saracens fly-half did not enjoy his best day against Les Bleus but he will bring control and defensive ferocity which England will need in the cauldron of the Millennium Stadium.

“Clearly Wales will target that area and they will be coming down that channel and I am sure Owen will be ready for some work. We have got a big challenge coming our way but we will be ready for it,' Lancaster said.

Farrell and Youngs managed the game expertly against Ireland in Dublin earlier in the tournament and Lancaster will want them to replicate that performance.

England are chasing their first Grand Slam in a decade but Saturday's clash is a genuine title decider, with Wales capable of retaining their crown.

Inside Line: Season 3, Episode 9

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Lancaster is yet to lose an away game in the Six Nations and he believes those experiences and the memory of beating New Zealand at home in December will stand his men in good stead.

'When you look at this Welsh side, there are not many weaknesses,' Lancaster said.

'It will take an outstanding effort but we have done it before, we have been to away games and won. We have played the best side in the world at home and won.

'We have to deal with the occasion and play with composure and accuracy. There is a quiet self-belief.'

SIX NATIONS 2013: How good is England"s team?

We asked England's 2003 Grand Slam and World Cup winners for their views on Stuart Lancaster's side… what was the verdict

PUBLISHED:

22:42 GMT, 2 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:23 GMT, 3 March 2013

England are two wins away from completing the Grand Slam, but just how good is Stuart Lancaster's side Sportsmail asked the class of 2003, who not only triumphed in the Six Nations, but were also crowned world champions.

The questions we put to them were:

1 How good are this England team
2 Can they replicate your triumphs
3 Which players have impressed you

Matt Dawson

Matt Dawson

Scrum-half, 77 England caps, 16 tries. Retired in 2006. Now media pundit

1 They are easily the best since 2003, not necessarily a great set of individuals but, as a unit, they are very impressive. They’re in a similar position to us in 2001 but with less experience.

2 If they continue as they are, they will be in prime position for the World Cup in 2015. Winning the Grand Slam in a fortnight will help as they need to win big games under pressure.

3 I like the second row. They have become the epitome of the engine room. I’m also impressed with how Danny Care is dealing with being second-choice scrum-half.

Mature: Danny Care has taken well to being second choice

Mature: Danny Care has taken well to being second choice

Phil Vickery

Phil Vickery

Prop, 73 caps, 2 tries. Retired in 2010. Runs clothing brand Raging Bull

1 They’re good now but have potential to be great. I can see quite a few similarities to us, when it comes to individuals and their positions. The only player they’ll never find is a Billy Whizz [Jason Robinson].

2 Can they Yes. Will they With luck they should win the Grand Slam, but Wales will not be easy, and they need to hit a few more speedbumps before the World Cup to toughen them up.

3 Chris Robshaw is top of my list. He’s been outstanding as a player and captain. I’d also like to single out coach Stuart Lancaster. He hasn’t put a foot wrong. Manu Tuilagi’s my other man. Owen Farrell has also impressed.

Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen

Wing, 57 caps, 31 tries. Retired in 2011. Chairman of anti-bullying charity

1 They’re developing nicely but aren’t yet the best in the world. With Wales away for a Grand Slam we will find out whether this team can dig deep. The 2003 side suffered setbacks that made them stronger.

2 I don’t see why not. But I’d like to see a few more peaks and troughs so that we peak in 2015 for the World Cup.

3 I like the back row, including James Haskell. Tom Wood reminds me of Richard Hill. Ben Youngs may have more control but Danny Care is like Matt Dawson in how he can put the opposition on the back foot.

No joke: James Haskell has impressed in England's back row

No joke: James Haskell has impressed in England's back row

Richard Hill

Richard Hill

Flanker, 71 caps, 12 tries. Retired in 2008. Now coach at Saracens

1 They are performing well, are led well and seem to know what they want. In 10 years, the game has moved on, but this group seem quicker than us to find the answers.

2 There’s every indication that they can. They’ve already played all the best teams in the world and fared OK to very well against them. Winning the Slam would give them the confidence we got from our 2003 Slam.

3 Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood. They are ferocious in the breakdown and are used as an attacking weapon in defence. Manu Tuilagi is critical to England, too.

Mike Tindall

Mike Tindall

Centre, 75 caps, 14 tries. Now player-coach at Gloucester

1 They’ve been playing at a high intensity and their biggest strength is the pressure they apply. But there is still work to be done.

2 They can better us by winning a Grand Slam two years before the World Cup. I’d be disappointed if they don’t. Win, and they can go on to be world champions.

3 Manu Tuilagi is England’s key player and Robshaw’s consistency is outstanding, Joe Launchbury’s a real find and look out for Billy Vunipola.

Main man: Manu Tuilagi has been at the forefront of England's Grand Slam bid

Main man: Manu Tuilagi has been at the forefront of England's Grand Slam bid

Josh Lewsey

Josh Lewsey

Full-back, 55 caps, 22 tries. Retired in 2011. Works in the City as commodities trader

1 This is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Not many would get into our team, but what’s more important is the environment Stuart Lancaster has created.

2 Yes, in terms of medals, although I don’t think the calibre of rugby in the Northern Hemisphere is as high as it could be. This England team are doing well but we set the global standards in 2001-02.

3 It’s hard to single out individuals because England’s best weapon has been their teamwork. I do like Dan Cole’s demeanour and the way he goes about his business.

Ben Kay

Ben Kay

Lock, 62 caps, 2 tries. Retired in 2010. Now a ESPN commentator and media analyst

1 So far, very good, but it’s still early days. They need a lot more time. And how many would get into our team Not as many as some might think. We were much older and had experienced leaders all over the pitch.

2 They can, but don’t hang everything on 2015. Don’t forget the majority of the 2003 team went through the 1999 World Cup and the current team are certainly young enough to go on and win in 2019 instead — or maybe even as well.

3 Obviously Manu Tuilagi and Owen Farrell, but also Dan Cole and Joe Launchbury.

Hands on approach: Joe Launchbury is another who has grown during the Six Nations campaign

Hands on approach: Joe Launchbury is another who has grown during the Six Nations campaign

Trevor Woodman

Trevor Woodman

Prop, 22 caps, 0 tries. Retired in 2004. Forwards coach at Wasps

1 Judging by the last few results, England are becoming very difficult to beat. But are they better than we were Yes and no. They are a bit younger than us and we had more world-class players. What is similar is that a lot of our team had the disappointment of the 1999 World Cup, just as some of this team were at the 2011 Cup.

2 Without a doubt, if not better than what we achieved, but there are caveats. We must ensure we keep up, if not get ahead, of any improvements by others. We must ensure there is stiff competition for places and we must make Twickenham a fortress.

3 Mako Vunipola because he is such a destructive ball-carrier; Joe Launchbury, because he doesn’t make mistakes. And Manu, of course. He has the X Factor.

Steve Thompson

Steve Thompson

Hooker, 73 caps, 4 tries. Retired in 2011. Now living with his new family in Dubai

1 Good and will get better. I’m not sure the best starting XV is playing yet. The scrum creaked a bit against France.

2 Certainly with the Grand Slam. We’ll find out more about whether they can stand the pressure. I want to see them bully sides like we did, mentally and physically.

3 Tom Youngs is our best hooker now, overtaking Dylan Hartley. He’s awesome in the scrum and the loose and if he fine-tunes some of his set-piece he will be world class.

Head and shoulders above the rest: Tom Youngs (centre) has emerged as England's best hooker

Head and shoulders above the rest: Tom Youngs (centre) has emerged as England's best hooker

Will Greenwood

Will Greenwood

Centre, 55 caps, 31 tries. Retired in 2006. Now a media analyst

1 I’m enjoying watching them. They have great mental strength and are improving in stature every game. It’s a great sign they can beat sides as good as France when not playing well, and be annoyed about it.

2 The Grand Slam definitely and with a World Cup at home the options open up.

3 Geoff Parling. He jumps, he pushes, he tackles, he does exactly what it says on the tin. And Owen Farrell. To be a stand-off in a World Cup-winning side you need to be a tough nut and a sponge. He absorbs every lesson Test rugby throws at him.

Saracens 35 London Welsh 14 – Sarries go top: Match report

Saracens 35 London Welsh 14: Sarries go top as Strettle's hot streak continues

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

17:02 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:02 GMT, 3 March 2013

David Strettle continued to push for an England recall by sealing a bonus point win for Saracens against beleaguered London Welsh that took them to the top of the Aviva Premiership.

The in-form winger followed up his double at Leicester last week by running in Sarries' fourth try as they took themselves four points clear of Harlequins at the summit.

It rounds off a difficult week for Welsh, who find out their fate over the alleged ineligibility of scrum-half Tyson Keats at an RFU hearing on Tuesday which is threatening to seal their fate in their battle against the drop.

Man of the moment: Strettle crosses the whitewash to score late on for Sarries

Man of the moment: Strettle crosses the whitewash to score late on for Sarries

The visitors got off to a disastrous start when Keats' kick in the first minute was charged down by Alistair Hargreaves, leading to a penalty and an easy three points for Charlie Hodgson.

Unsurprisingly, Saracens were having the lion's share of possession in the early stages and soon doubled their lead when Hodgson was given another simple kick at goal from under the posts.

A horribly-executed scrum then led a Welsh player being penalised for going in off his feet at a ruck, but Hodgson was this time unable to punish them as he kicked wide.

Completely against the run of play, London Welsh scored the game's first try after 26 minutes when Julio Cabello's off-load bounced nicely for Seb Stegmann on the left wing.

Flying start: Stegmann races clear for relegation-threatened Welsh

Flying start: Stegmann races clear for relegation-threatened Welsh

The debutant sold two Saracens players a dummy which both bought – and he could not believe his luck as he sauntered over, although Gavin Henson's missed conversion meant the hosts retained their lead.

But the visitors then lost Canadian winger Phil Mackenzie to the sin-bin and a few minutes later conceded a penalty try as a Sarries lineout led to a maul that was illegally dragged down.

To make matters worse, prop Tom Bristow was yellow-carded for the offence, but while they were down to 14 men, Henson knocked over a penalty.

High hopes: Joubert collects lineout ball for Saracens

High hopes: Joubert collects lineout ball for Saracens

However, yet more ill-discipline from the Exiles allowed Hodgson to slot another penalty before Henson reduced the gap to 16-11 with a scrappy drop goal that clipped the crossbar right on half-time.

Saracens managed to put more daylight between the sides seven minutes into the second half when a sweeping move involving Hodgson and Duncan Taylor led to Joel Tomkins holding off his tackler to score, with the former converting.

To London Welsh's credit, this latest setback still did not break their spirit and they brought the deficit back down to nine points with another Henson penalty.

Full stretch: Will Fraser adds another five points to Sarries' total

Full stretch: Will Fraser adds another five points to Sarries' total

The inevitable raft of substitutions hurt the game's rhythm somewhat, Hodgson seeing a penalty come back off the left-hand post.

But Sarries took a huge step towards victory just after the hour mark when Strettle found Schalk Brits, whose off-load allowed Will Fraser to just about finish in the corner, with the try awarded by the TMO.

Still Welsh refused to lie down and the visitors thought they had a route back in the game when Henson touched down on the right wing – only to see the try chalked off for obstruction by Tom Arscott in the build-up.

The outcome was settled with eight minutes remaining when Saracens sealed the bonus point after Strettle went through a gap that appeared to be made by Tomkins holding back Henson.

Ospreys sign Tito Tebaldi

Ospreys snap up Italian scrum-half Tebaldi on two-year deal to replace outgoing Fotuali'l

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

12:24 GMT, 2 March 2013

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UPDATED:

12:24 GMT, 2 March 2013

The Ospreys have announced the signing of Italy international Tito Tebaldi on a two-year deal.

The scrum-half, who has won 16 caps, will move to the Liberty Stadium from Ospreys' fellow RaboDirect PRO12 team Zebre.

And he is set to fill the void left by Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'l, who is set to join Aviva Premiership club Northampton next term.

Inbound: Tito Tebaldi has joined Ospreys

Inbound: Tito Tebaldi has joined Ospreys

Tebaldi, 25, said: 'I am excited about this fantastic opportunity with the Ospreys.

'Their record in the PRO12 speaks for itself, and the chance to be a part of such a successful club is something I couldn't turn down.

'I am looking forward to a new challenge in a competitive environment that will help me to improve as a player and a person, while hopefully contributing to the continued success of the Ospreys.'

London Welsh 15 Wasps 34

London Welsh 15 Wasps 34: Super Simpson gets his side in contention for top four spot

PUBLISHED:

18:16 GMT, 29 December 2012

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UPDATED:

18:16 GMT, 29 December 2012

A brilliant try from scrum-half Joe Simpson was the highlight of London Wasps' bonus point victory as they did the Aviva Premiership double over London Welsh this season.

Simpson had an outstanding game as Wasps came from behind with tries from wing Elliot Daly, replacement prop Will Taylor and, right at the end, a fourth try for wing Tom Varndell.

Welsh fly-half Gordon Ross kicked all his side's points with five penalties, while Wasps fly-half Nicky Robinson landed three penalties, Daly booted one and replacement stand-off Stephen Jones kicked the only conversion of the match.

Crunch: Hugo Southwell of Wasps is tackled by Franck Montanella

Crunch: Hugo Southwell of Wasps is tackled by Franck Montanella

Wasps were looking for to repeat their win over the Exiles at Adams Park, Wycombe, back in October.

Welsh, meanwhile, needed to bounce back from a 13-6 loss at Worcester.

Although not in any immediate danger at the wrong end of the table after basement side Sale Sharks beat Worcester on Friday night, revenge on their near neighbours would be welcome for head coach Lyn Jones if only to steer them further away from the dogfight below them.

The first half-hour was dominated by the boot, both with positional kicks and shots at goal, as first Welsh took a six-point advantage and then saw it clawed back by their visitors.

There was not a great deal to choose between them up front but the most obvious mistake made by the field kickers, Welsh full-back Tom Arscott a particular offender – was booting the ball straight into touch and losing the territory that would have gained.

Wasps could have led handsomely at the interval had they taken the majority of their goal kicks. Daly missed a long-range effort for the visitors before an excellent scrum from the Exiles and an offside decision given their way saw Ross secure two successes.

On the move: Elliot Daly of Wasps (left) gets going as his side did the double over London Welsh

On the move: Elliot Daly of Wasps (left) gets going as his side did the double over London Welsh

But the lead did not last long as ex-Wales international Robinson levelled matters with two penalties but then sent two more penalties wide of the uprights from similar distances of 25 metres.

Ross, on the other hand, was deadly accurate at that short range. As Welsh frustrated their opponents and the front row of Franck Montanella, Neil Briggs and James Tideswell caused havoc for opponents Zak Taulafo, Rhys Thomas and Phil Swainston, Ross secured another two goals to take his side into a 12-6 interval lead.

But, even though the ball may have been greasy from the earlier rain, there was little excuse for a poor first-half with hardly any invention in attack towards either try-line.

Robinson reduced the arrears after the break to three points with his third penalty before a piece of individual magic took the match up a gear.

In what will surely be one of the contenders for try of the season, Simpson took the ball from a line-out thirty metres from the Welsh line, went through a gap at the back and embarked on a diagonal sprint across the pitch.

Rough and tumble: Ed Jackson of London Welsh is tackled by Joe Launchbury (right)

Rough and tumble: Ed Jackson of London Welsh is tackled by Joe Launchbury (right)

He looked to be going nowhere but somehow found a gap towards the line. The scrum-half ran through three tackles and got past desperate defence on the line to touch down and leave everyone in the crowd amazed.

Robinson failed with the conversion but that put Wasps two points to the good and, when Daly kicked a thumping penalty from fully 53 metres, it was the turning point of the contest.

Wasps were on top and they threatened to leave Welsh with nothing to show for their efforts when Daly sprinted down the right wing to just get in for the second try of the game .

Welsh would not lay down, and Ross' fifth penalty put them within sight of Wasps. But a final killer converted try from replacement Will Taylor saw Wasps home and dry.

Vardnell went over on 83 minutes to get the bonus point and put Wasps challenging for a top four place on Saturday night.

Exeter 12 Bath 12: Chiefs denied by late penalty try

Exeter 12 Bath 12: Chiefs denied victory over west country rivals after late penalty try

|

UPDATED:

18:17 GMT, 29 December 2012

The conversation of a penalty try three minutes from time denied Exeter their first Premiership victory over west country rivals Bath in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,744 at Sandy Park.

Both sides went into the game on the back of defeats with Exeter seeing their run of seven victories halted by a 18-16 defeat at Gloucester while Bath were hammered 22-0 at home to Saracens.

Tom Hayes returned to the second row to lead the Chiefs while Phil Dollman came in at outside centre so James Hanks and Ian Whitten dropped to the bench where they were joined by the return of England international Tom Johnson.

Argie-bargy: Exeter's Argentine international wing Gonzalo Camacho hands off a challenge from Bath and England prop David Wilson

Argie-bargy: Exeter's Argentine international wing Gonzalo Camacho hands off a challenge from Bath and England prop David Wilson

Full back Ollie Devoto made his first Premiership start for Bath while inside centre Matt Banahan, locks Dave Attwood and Ryan Caldwell and number eight Ben Skirving all returned to action for the visitors.

The Chiefs applied the early pressure but conceded silly penalties and when close to the posts they had the ball turned over. Then with 12 minutes on the clock fly-half Gareth Steenson, with the wind at his back, landed the opening penalty.

But the visitors hit back immediately with a try started and finished by scrum half Michael Claassens in the left corner with great support play from wing Tom Biggs and fly-half Steven Donald. Claassens was unable to convert from touchline.

Exeter wasted a try scoring opportunity when full back Luke Arscott made the break through the middle and, with scrum half Hayden Thomas on his right in space, he passed to lock Aly Muldowney who was quickly brought to ground.

Delightful dozen: Steenson (right) kicked four penalties from four attempts

Delightful dozen: Steenson (right) kicked four penalties from four attempts

The home side were able to create breaks from deep in their own half but unforced errors or penalties were again the Chiefs downfall when they ventured into the Bath 22 allowing the visitors to keep their line intact.

Then, with time already up on the clock, Bath wing Horacio Agulla was penalised for coming in at the side of the ruck and Steenson stepped-up to land his second kick of the game and nudge the Chiefs into a 6-5 half-time lead.

Steenson increased the lead minutes after the restart when Bath repeated the previous offence just before the break but this time Skirving was the culprit. The penalty from the former Ireland under-21 took him past 1,000 points since his Exeter debut in 2008.

All square: Neither side were able to claim all four points

All square: Neither side were able to claim all four points

The Chiefs were certainly an improved side in the second half at the scrum and the lineout as well as limiting their errors. Bath strayed offside when inside their own 22 and Steenson kept a clean sheet with his fourth penalty kick.

Exeter again showed that they too can defend their own line and with the game going into the final 10 minutes the Chiefs again camped out inside the Bath 22. But when they turned a Bath scrum the home side were penalised for standing up.

Bath won a penalty inside the Exeter 22 and opt to kick for the corner and then the Chiefs were penalised at the ruck. Bath repeated the move and referee David Rose awarded a penalty try. Tom Heathcote added the extras to level the score.

Saracens 19 Munster 13: Match report

Saracens 19 Munster 13: Farrell's boot edges Sarries closer to Heineken Cup qualification

PUBLISHED:

17:57 GMT, 16 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

17:57 GMT, 16 December 2012

Owen Farrell edged the battle of the erratic goal-kickers as Saracens won a compelling contest against Munster at Vicarage Road to top Pool One of the Heineken Cup.

With two games remaining in the pool stage, Saracens hold a two-point advantage over Racing Metro and a three-point cushion over Munster who now have it all to do to remain in the competition.

Saracens were deserved winners, overcoming the loss of Will Fraser to the sin bin, but had to rely on 14 points from the boot of Farrell for their success.

Just bootiful: Owen Farrell was the difference for Saracens

Just bootiful: Owen Farrell was the difference for Saracens

Munster grabbed an interception try from Doug Howlett but failed to take advantage of Fraser's absence and two late misses from Ronan O'Gara cost them dearly.

The game began with a spark as the first ruck culminated in a heated melee between the packs, resulting in a warning being given to the captains.

The opening minutes were frenetic as both sides harried each other into mistakes. Saracens had the first sustained attack and the first scoring chance but Farrell's 25-metre drop-goal attempt sailed narrowly wide.

After eight minutes, Farrell was given another opportunity and this time he was on target with a long-range penalty.

A poor kick from Farrell, which went straight to Simon Zebo, gave Munster their first chance to counter-attack. O'Gara produced an exquisite chip over the top for Zebo to collect but a knock-on by hooker Mike Sherry prevented the move from developing.

On the charge: Schalk Brits of Saracens is tackled by Peter O'Mahoney

On the charge: Schalk Brits of Saracens is tackled by Peter O'Mahoney

Saracens conceded a penalty at the resulting scrum but O'Gara fired wide, however moments later the outside-half made no mistake with his second effort after Farrell had been penalised for not releasing.

Munster suffered a setback when full-back Felix Jones limped off, to be replaced by Luke O'Dea, but although Saracens had marginally the better of the first quarter it was still 3-3 at the end of it.

However after 22 minutes, the hosts scored the opening try when Farrell's clever chip through saw David Strettle easily win the race for the touchdown which Farrell converted.

Back came Munster to tie up the scores. Farrell's loose pass on half-way was intercepted by James Downey, and although the centre was caught by Strettle he got the ball away to Howlett who scored for O'Gara to convert.

Mixed emotions: Saracens pack celebrate winnning a late scrum as the dejected Munster forwards look on

Mixed emotions: Saracens pack celebrate winnning a late scrum as the dejected Munster forwards look on

Saracens continued to dominate in terms of possession and territory but they could not make it count at that stage.

Strettle was hauled down just short of the line and Farrell missed a penalty so it remained at 10-10 at the interval.

When O'Dea fumbled an up-an-under early in the second half, it allowed Saracens a position in the visitors 22. Munster were penalised but again Farrell could not take advantage.

Against the run of play, O'Gara put his aside ahead with a penalty after Downey nailed his former Northampton colleague Chris Ashton, who was penalised for not releasing.
Farrell responded with a simple penalty after Munster offended at a scrum and minutes later kicked another to give Saracens a 16-13 lead going into the final quarter.

Saracens suffered a huge blow when Will Fraser was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Howlett.

Munster immediately piled on the pressure for their best period of the match but O'Gara's drop goal and penalty attempts both missed the target.

Saracens survived the onslaught and it was left to Farrell to seal a crucial victory with a penalty four minutes from time.

Treviso 13 Leicester 14: Tigers" Heineken Cup hopes back on track after last gasp penalty try

Treviso 13 Leicester 14: Tigers' Heineken Cup hopes back on track after last gasp penalty try

PUBLISHED:

16:49 GMT, 15 December 2012

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UPDATED:

21:35 GMT, 15 December 2012

Richard Cockerill was left seething after a controversial penalty try almost derailed his team's Heineken Cup hopes.

But it was a second penalty try two minutes from time – this time for Leicester – that got the Tigers out of jail and took them top of Pool Two.

Victory salute: Leicester Tigers players salute their fans after winning in Italy

Touching down: Thompstone of Leicester tucked away a try after 14 minutes

That was only after Irish referee
Alain Rolland frustrated Leicester with his award of a first-half
penalty try, even though Treviso's pack were still 20 yards from the
line.

Leicester coach Cockerill said: 'I
have never seen anything like it in the 30 years that I have been
involved with rugby. If that had been awarded for us I would have sat in
my chair in embarrassment.'

Trailing 13-7 with the final whistle
looming and Treviso eyeing a famous win, Cockerill's men ground out the
winning score as their power in the scrum finally told.

George Ford held his nerve to convert and send Leicester ahead of Toulouse in the standings.

Cockerill said: 'We're obviously
very relieved. Treviso made us work exceptionally hard but you have to
congratulate our players for sticking in there.'

Ben Youngs set up Adam Johnstone on 14 minutes but Alberto Di Bernardo kicked Treviso ahead before the drama.

Richard Cockerill, Leicester Tigers Head Coach

Back on track: Richard Cockerill's men have lived to fight another day

Pool Two now looks like a three-way
fight, with Ospreys beating Toulouse in the other fixture. The Tigers'
final day fixture against the French side is likely to decide their
destiny.

For Treviso,
progression from the group has never really been a realistic goal, but
there was much pride to play for having perfumed so well in the reverse
fixture, only to come away with nothing.

Once again they deserved so much better after an heroic effort.

Alberto Di Bernardo kicked everything that came his way for Franco Smith's men.

Clermont Auvergne 15 Leinster 12 – match report: Heineken Cup champions sunk at French fortress

Clermont Auvergne 15 Leinster 12: Champions bloodied at French fortress

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

19:36 GMT, 9 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

19:36 GMT, 9 December 2012

Leinster picked up a losing bonus point in a titanic clash with Pool Five leaders Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Marcel Michelin.

Despite a first defeat in this season's Heineken Cup, the defending champions emerged with a clutch of positives ahead of next Saturday's return date in Dublin.

Sean O'Brien had an impressive return to European action in a barnstorming back row unit, with Fergus McFadden and cup debutant Andrew Goodman the pick of the visitors' backs.

Ouch: Leinster's Shane Jennings was left bloodied after sustaining a nasty cut to his head

Ouch: Leinster's Shane Jennings was left bloodied after sustaining a nasty cut to his head

Jonathan Sexton kicked four penalties for the province, a tally matched by Clermont's Morgan Parra, with Brock James landing a crucial drop goal just before half-time.

There was a raucous atmosphere in Clermont's home fortress, where the French club boast an unbeaten run that recently passed 50 games.

Clermont drew first blood, Parra popping over a penalty from in front of the posts but Leinster carried more of an early threat with ball in hand.

Jamie Heaslip's inside pass put Ian Madigan through a midfield hole and Sexton stepped up to convert the subsequent penalty.

An obstruction from a lineout went unpunished as Sexton missed a tricky penalty, with play swinging back and forth at a hectic pace.

Pass master: Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra (centre) offloads the ball at the Marcel Michelin stadium

Pass master: Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra (centre) offloads the ball at the Marcel Michelin stadium

A strong burst from Napolioni Nalaga led to Parra kicking Clermont back in front by the end of a defence-dominated first quarter.

The home side cranked it up as Sitiveni Sivivatu drew in two defenders, releasing Aurelien Rougerie and Lee Byrne for a right-wing surge that almost led to a try.

A third successful penalty from Parra stretched the margin to 9-3, but Leinster were quick to respond through a bout of sturdy carries from McFadden, Cian Healy and Kevin McLaughlin.

Sexton was back on target with a penalty from the 22 and as the Leinster pack exerted more control, they continued to make good ground.

Catch me if you can: Clermont star Aurelien Rougerie runs with the ball at the Leinster defence

Catch me if you can: Clermont star Aurelien Rougerie runs with the ball at the Leinster defence

Madigan burst into the 22 and with Clermont penalised for not rolling away, Sexton brought the title holders level.

However, Clermont hit back through another penalty from Parra and James' late drop goal put six points between the sides at the break.

Sexton and Madigan probed with clever kicks on the resumption, while Isa Nacewa and McFadden both went close to collecting cross-field kicks from the Leinster number 10. Wales and Lions full-back Byrne did brilliantly to deny the former.

Putting the boot in: Clermont fly-half Brock James (left) sends the ball clear

Putting the boot in: Clermont fly-half Brock James (left) sends the ball clear

After two confidence-boosting scrums, with Mike Ross shunting Vincent Debaty backwards, Sexton slotted his fourth successful penalty with 54 minutes on the clock.

Clermont looked to be tiring but Byrne did well again to sweep the ball into touch with Nacewa bearing down on him as he chased Gordon D'Arcy's kick.

Although the French outfit responded with two side-stepping runs from the dangerous Wesley Fofana, Leinster defended stoutly but a couple of loose lineouts – with replacement hooker Richard Strauss on the pitch – robbed them of promising attacking positions as time ran down.

The result leaves Clermont with a five-point buffer at the top of the table. The sides will regroup for a vital second meeting at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday afternoon.