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Bath and Irish crash
English clubs on verge of European disappointment
Posted Dec 20, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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It was a massive weekend for the English clubs in the Heineken Cup and both Bath and London Irish may just have seen their European dream disappear after disappointing results.
Both needed wins to guarantee that they stayed in the hunt to progress to the knockout phase of the elite rugby union competition but neither could manage that.
The Exiles, on the back of a shocking run of form, lost 38-17 at Toulon after trailing 17-0 at the break whilst Bath, at home to Ulster, threw away a 14-13 half time lead to lost 22-26 to the Northern Irish outfit. These results mean Bath sit third in pool four, five points off Ulster and eight points behind Biarritz with two to play whilst the Irish sit bottom of pool three, six and eight points of Muster and Toulon respectively at the top of the group.
Bath will be kicking themselves for throwing away their slim advantage and it means that their miserable form continues with just one win in the four in Europe.
It was a good weekend for Northampton as they made it four wins from four to lead Pool One by six points from Castres after a narrow 19-23 triumph at Cardiff Blues. Following last weekend’s niggling encounter at Franklin Gardens, the Blues were hoping to cause an upset and move off the bottom of the group. But an impressive display of kicking from Steve Myler and a moment of madness from Cardiff’s Xavier Rush that saw him red carded for a scything head-high tackle on Courtney Lawes, thrust the game in the Saints favour and they were able to see it out
It means that the Saints are the best set to challenge in Europe as they can now relax and rest some of their stars in the remaining two group fixtures. I believe that, as the Aviva Premiership suggests, Northampton will be the English team to go the furthest in the Heineken Cup and they could be looking at a prestigious double.
In Pool Two, Saracens grabbed their first win of the season at Racing Metro, 14-19, but it makes little difference to their position in the group as they remain firmly rooted to the basement.
Leicester Tigers threw away the opportunity to stay top of Pool Five when a penalty in the final few moments earned Perpignan at 22-22 draw at Welford Road. This means that it’s two from three in this group with only three points separating Scarlets, Leicester and the French side.
In Pool Six, London Wasps stormed to a 37-10 win over Newport-Gwent Dragons despite it only being 3-3 at the break. The enthralling and mesmerising second half display from the hosts moved them to the top of their group and ensured their passage into the next round of the competition.