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O'Gara Does it Again for Munster
Last gasp drop goal seals second successive Heineken Cup win
Posted Nov 21, 2011 by Chris White
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Trailing for the majority of the game, Munster were seemingly down and out at 11-0 down, but tries from Doug Howlett, Peter O’Mahony and Will Chambers were instrumental in a battling performance that saw them take the lead for the first time around the hour mark. With ten minutes to go, Pierre Bernard levelled the scores, only for O’Gara to break the French hearts with a dramatic drop-goal.
It’s the Scarlets who lead Pool One, however, thanks to a 28-23 victory against Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens, running in four tries as they also made it two wins from two, making it highly unlikely that last year’s beaten finalists will qualify this time around.
By half time, the visitors were in charge, thanks to tries from Liam Williams, Aaron Shingler and Matt Gilbert, and Rhys Priestland scored their fourth try for the bonus point, before a late fight back from the home side made things much closer than they looked like being, with George Pisi and Tom Wood touching down, and Ryan Lamb kicking 13 points for Jim Mallinder’s side – the man tipped to replace Martin Johnson as England coach.
Edinburgh lead the way in Pool Two thanks to a second successive victory, edging a thriller against Racing Metro 48-47. The Scottish side raced into a 17-3 lead in just eight minutes, thanks to Tim Visser and Greig Laidlaw’s tries, and the fly half converted both, before the Frenchmen fought back, with Julien Saubade, Juan Imhoff, Jonathan Wisniewski and Henry Chavancy all scoring before the interval, leading 31-20 when the whistle blew for a much needed break.
Chavancy scored his second, but Netani Talei, Tom Brown, Roddy Grant and Visser all scored for Edinburgh, and although the chance opened up for Racing to win it late on, Juan Martin Hernandez missed his close-range drop goal attempt.
Cardiff Blues are second in the Pool, but they were forced to grind out an unconvincing victory against 14-man London Irish, who had Steven Shingler sent off after just twenty minutes for a spear tackle.
Rhys Thomas and Lloyd Williams scored first half tries for the Blues, who lead 18-9 at the break, and the boot of Dan Parks helped the Welsh side hold off the Exiles for a 24-18 win, with Irish indebted to the boot of their own kicker Tom Homer, who scored all 18 points.
Champions Leinster lead Pool Three after powering past Glasgow, all but sealing the win by the time the referee blew for half time. Rob Kearney scored in just the fourth minute, followed by a brace from Eoin O’Malley and one from Gordon D’Arcy just before the break to seal the bonus point, and Jonathan Sexton converted all four. Henry Pyrgos managed a consolation try for the Warriors, but Isaac Boss scored the final try of the match, converted by replacement Ian Madigan making it 38-13 to Leinster at the final whistle.
Bath were made to work hard for their 16-13 victory against Montpellier to hold on to second spot in the Pool, with New Zealander Stephen Donald setting up a try for Ollie Woodburn and kicking two penalties. David Flatman added to Woodburn’s early try, as the home side lead 13-3 at the break, but the French side came back strongly in the second half, with winger Martin Bustos Moyano scoring a try and kicking the rest of his side’s points, making Bath work hard for the win.
Leicester ground out an important 20-9 win against Ulster at Welford Road in Pool Four, with outside centre Matt Smith scoring the only try of the game in the 54th minute, as both sides exchanged penalties throughout. England fly half Toby Flood kicked five goals for the Tigers, while Ian Humphreys kicked three for the visitors.
Clermont Auvergne are now second in the Pool, thanks to a crushing 54-3 victory against Italian minnows Aironi. Lee Byrne, Gerhard Vosloo and Brock James all touched down in the first half, while Julien Bonnaire, Julien Bardy, Jean-Marcel Buttin, Wesley Fofana and Julien Malzieu compiled the Italians’ misery at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
In Pool Five, Saracens lead the way on points difference, but they went down to a 15-10 defeat against Biarritz. In a scoreless first half, Owen Farrell put the Aviva Premiership champions ahead with a penalty, before Imanol Harinordoquy scored a try and Julien Peyrelongue kicked a penalty to put the home side in front for the first time. Taku Ngwenya danced through the Saracens defence to add a second try to all but seal the win, but Alex Goode touched down to give Sarries a losing bonus point.
Ospreys join Saracens at the top of Pool Five, but they were indebted to a 79th-minute penalty from Matthew Morgan, as they drew 26-26 against Treviso. Morgan, who came on for his debut just ten minutes earlier, rescued his side after Michele Rizzo, Benjamin da Jager and Tobias Botes touched down for the home side. Tommy Bowe and Ryan Jones pulled back tries of their own for the Ospreys, and Dan Biggar kicked 13 points, but it was the last gasp goal from Morgan that decided the result.
In Pool Six, Toulouse beat Heineken Cup debutants Connact 36-10 in Ireland, with Lionel Beauxis kicking 17 points for the visitors. The French side raced into a 22-3 lead at the break, thanks to the boot of Beauxis and a Jean Bouilhou try, and a controversial penalty try secured the win. Connact were awarded a penalty try of their own, but a Yannick Nyanga try for Toulouse put the result beyond doubt.
Premiership leaders Harlequins extended their unbeaten start to the season further still, with a 12th straight victory, in a 28-9 win against fellow Premiership side Gloucester. Mike Brown and Matt Hopper both scored first half tries to put Quins in charge, and Nick Easter touched down late on, with Nick Evans kicking thirteen points. Freddie Burns scored all of the home side’s points from the boot.
Watch Ronan O’Gara kick the dramatic match-winning drop goal for Munster against Castres: