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European wrap: Big wins for Munster and Ospreys

Rich Dore
10 December 2017

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There were eight Guinness PRO14 teams in action on a bumper Saturday of European action in the Champions and Challenge Cups.

In the Champions Cup Ospreys delivered a stunning display at Franklin’s Gardens to edge a crazy game against Northampton Saints, Scarlets squeaked past Benetton Rugby and the Munster machine rolls on.

Meanwhile, in the Challenge Cup there was a huge win for Edinburgh Rugby and Connacht kept their perfect record intact.

Northampton Saints 32-43 Ospreys

What a game. Steve Tandy’s side had looked like they were struggling in a tough-looking Pool 2 of the Champions Cup, with two losses in the first two rounds, but are right back in it after yesterday’s performance.

The Ospreys dominated for the first 60 minutes, with doubles from Dan Evans and Jeff Hassler helping them into a 38-8 lead midway through the second half.

Saints rallied with five tries of their own and despite being reduced to 13 men before the end, the Welsh side held on for a famous win, also denying Northampton a losing bonus point.

Munster Rugby 33-10 Leicester Tigers

Munster, always so strong in Europe, are looking in an excellent position at the top of Pool 4 with 11 points after yesterday’s win over Leicester Tigers.

On Johann van Graan’s coaching debut in the Champions Cup the Irish side were dominant from the outset, highlighted by tries for Rhys Marshall and Simon Zebo.

Tigers offered more resistance in the second period but Munster skipper Peter O’Mahony also touched town and Chris Cloete scored a 67th minute bonus-point try to send his side to the top of the pool.

Scarlets 33-28 Benetton Rugby

This all-Guinness PRO14 affair kept everyone guessing right until the end and was an excellent display of European rugby from both sides.

Scarlets raced into a 14-0 lead after just six minutes with two tries for Gareth Davies but the Italians roared back with scores for Robert Barbieri, Jayden Hayward, Angelo Esposito and lock Federico Ruzza.

The hosts were down 28-21 with four minutes remaining before Steff Evans struck and Rhys Patchell converted – Paul Asquith then touched down a 78th-minute try to keep the Welsh region alive in Europe.

Zebre Rugby 26-33 Gloucester Rugby

Into the Challenge Cup and Zebre’s hopes of progression look to be over after they were edged out by in-form English side Gloucester.

The Italians did register two bonus points thanks to scores from Johannes Meyer, Renato Giammarioli, Thomas Boni and winger Ciaran Gaffney.

Gloucester seemed to be a step ahead though and two tries from the excellent Ollie Thorley plus four conversions from the boot of Wales’ Owen Williams settled the result.

Sale Sharks 24-0 Cardiff Blues

Not one to remember for Cardiff Blues fans but the team from the Welsh capital are still in control at the top of Pool 2 in the Challenge Cup thanks to their two prior wins.

Sale are adept at winning arm-wrestle matches and so it proved on Saturday afternoon, with former Connacht man AJ MacGinty kicking his side into a first-half lead.

The Sharks scored two second-half tries but Cardiff go into round four’s match against the same opposition still in excellent shape in the Pool.

Edinburgh Rugby 50-20 London Irish

Richard Cockerill’s side are absolutely flying in this competition and will progress to the next stage after yesterday’s big win saw them reach 15 points in Pool 4 of the Challenge Cup.

Edinburgh ran in eight tries against London Irish, with eight different tryscorers, Stuart McInally, Blair Kinghorn and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne amongst them.

The Scottish side have now scored an astonishing 160 points in their three matches in the competition and look to be in the mood to target some silverware.

Brive 31-38 Connacht Rugby

Connacht are another side in superb form in the Challenge Cup, with three wins from three following this excellent win away at French side Brive.

Brive scored three first-half tries but Ultane Dillane and Kieran Marmion replied to keep the Galway-based side in the contest.

And after the break scores for Jack Carty and Cian Kelleher, plus three penalties from the boot of fly-half Carty pinched the result from under the noses of the French.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

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