Imagine Rugby Blogs

Quins Unbeaten Run Comes to an Abrupt End

Toulouse win at the Stoop, Tigers battered in France

Posted Dec 13, 2011 by Chris White

The Heineken Cup has reached the halfway stage in the Pools

With their unbeaten run still intact, Harlequins welcomed Toulouse to the Twickenham Stoop, with the French side departing with the points, bringing that outstanding run of victories to an end. It was a similar story for Leicester against French opposition, with their recent revival also halted in the latest round of Heineken Cup fixtures.

14 successive victories at the start of the season was never realistically going to continue much longer, but the Harlequins faithful would have liked maybe just one more against Toulouse. However, they were left disappointed as their side were taught a lesson in the most brutal manner. Two penalties from Luke McAllister, and a try from winger Timoci Matanavou made sure the visitors made a mark on the game in the first half, and went in 11-3 up at the break. Quins fought back with Mike Brown going over almost immediately, and Nick Evans kicked the extras to close the gap to a point, but another Matanavou try, and a third penalty from McAllister made sure that Toulouse reached the halfway stage in this season’s pool phase at the top of Pool Six.

Gloucester recorded their first win of this season’s Heineken Cup campaign, with a 14-10 victory away at Connacht. A try from James Simpson-Daniel and two penalties from Freddie Burns put Gloucester in charge, 11-7 ahead at the break but the Irishmen fought back, with a Gavin Duffy try, converted by Niall O’Connor, and a penalty reduced the deficit to just one point soon after the interval. Another Burns penalty ensured the Cherry and Whites left Galway victorious.

Wesley Fofana scored two tries as Leicester were thumped 30-12 away at Clermont Auvergne. Morgan Parra kicked the home side into the lead, but a try against the run of play by Ben Youngs got the Tigers on the board. Two more penalties from Parra followed, and he then converted a Julien Malzieu try to put his side 16-5 up at half time. Two second half tries from Fofana sealed the victory against a poor Leicester side, who closed the gap thanks to a late penalty try, as Clermont took top spot in Pool Four.

Ulster have overtaken Leicester into second thanks to a bonus point victory against Aironi. Stephen Ferris powered his way over the line in the 16th minute, and Adam d’Arcy also went over before the break, giving his side a 12-3 lead. Andrew Trimble gave Ulster the perfect start to the second half with an early try, and Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson made it five tries for the home side before a late consolation from Tommaso D’Apice, reducing the final deficit to 31-10.

Munster have taken control of Pool One after a 17-14 win at Scarlets, making it 13 straight victories in all competitions. Rhys Priestland kicked a penalty and Aaron Shingler touched down to give the Welsh side an early lead, but Niall Ronan finished off a counter attack from the visitors, and Ronan O’Gara kicked two penalties to put Munster ahead. Two more penalties from O’Gara made sure of the win, despite another penalty from Priestland and one from replacement Stephen Jones.

The 2011 runners up Northampton were dumped out of this year’s competition after a 41-22 defeat at Castres. Steve Malonga put the French side ahead within five minutes, finishing off a fine move in the corner, but the Saints responded well and Mark Sorenson forced his way over the line, with Stephen Myler adding the conversion. Jamie Elliott scored the first of his two tries on his Heineken Cup debut, following a brace of penalties from Castes’ Romain Teulet. Another Teulet penalty followed the Elliott try, and Romain Martial touched down in the closing stages of the first half, with Teulet converting for a 23-12 lead. Elliott intercepted a loose pass early in the second half and raced down field to score his second try as the Saints began to take control of the game, and Samu Manoa capitalised, adding a try of his own. A second try from Martial brought Castres back into the match, and Ibrahim Diarra sealed the bonus point and the victory.

Dan Parks inspired Cardiff Blues to victory and the top of Pool Two, leap frogging their opponents Edinburgh thanks to a 25-8 win. Parks kicked 20 points for the Welsh side, with Alex Cuthbert scoring a late try. Lee Jones scored a try for Edinburgh, converted by Greig Laidlaw, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation as Cardiff overpowered their opponents.

London Irish kept their slim hopes of qualification alive thanks to a 34-14 win at Racing Metro. Racing led 14-3 at one stage, with Sereli Bobo touching down, and two penalties from Gaeton Germain, sandwiched around a Jonathan Wisniewski drop goal. However, the Exiles fought back well, and Jonathan Spratt’s converted try before the break allowed them to regroup, and Joe Ansbro and Adam Thompstone both managed to get over the line to put Irish 27-14 in front. A second try of the match from Thompstone ensured the English side picked up a welcome bonus point, but they will have to win all of their three remaining matches to qualify.

Leinster stay top of Pool Three courtesy of an 18-13 win at Bath. Jonny Sexton kicked all 18 points for the holders against the struggling Aviva Premiership side. Olly Barkley kicked two penalties for Bath, and converted a Matt Banahan try, but it all proved to be in vain.

Glasgow Warriors recorded their second win of this year’s Heineken Cup, with a 20-15 victory at home to Montpellier. Eric Escande scored an early try for the French side, but four penalties from Duncan Weir made sure Glasgow went in 12-10 up at the break. Ruaridh Jackson extended the lead with a second half penalty, and Glasgow moved further clear thanks to a Federico Aramburu try. A late Sakiusa Matadigo try made for a nervy finish to the game, but the Warriors held on.

Pool Five is led by Saracens, who beat Ospreys at Wembley in a thrilling encounter, which the Premiership champions edged 31-26. An early Rhys Gill try was converted by Owen Farrell, who then kicked a penalty to make sure Sarries led 10-3, but the first of two converted tries from Ashley Beck put Ospreys ahead. A try from Ernst Joubert and three more Farrell penalties made sure that Saracens were ahead at half time, leading 23-13, and a Chris Wyles try made it 28-16. Beck’s second try and a penalty from Dan Biggar closed the gap but the Welsh side couldn’t find another score despite the late rally.

Treviso kept up their unbeaten home record thanks to a Kristopher Burton-inspired 30-26 win against Biarritz. Burton kicked 16 points, converting early tries by Michele Rizzo and Robert Barbieri, before Biarritz responded through a Pelu Taele try. Corenelius van Zyl scored a third try for the home side, and Marcelo Bosch scored for the visitors before the interval. Tries from Damien Traille and Yann Lesgourgues early in the second half closed the gap between the two sides, but Burton’s late penalty made sure Treviso clung on to the win.

Who was the star man this weekend? Which victory or defeat was the most significant? Give us your thoughts here, on Twitter @ImagineRugby and on Facebook by clicking here.

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