Weekend Round-up: Leinster roll on while Warriors and Ulster plot

Rich Dore
13 January 2020

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The penultimate weekend of the Heineken Champions Cup pool stages provided plenty of intrigue as a host of Guinness PRO14 sides continued their European campaigns.

With places in the knockout stages still very much up for grabs, there was plenty on the line.

As the tournament heads towards its business end, here’s a run-down of all the action from Europe across the weekend.

Leinster march on

Six tries and a fifth straight Champions Cup win represents a decent weekend’s work by anyone’s standards.

The result in no way flattered a Leinster side who produced chance upon chance throughout the game as they eased to a 42-14 win over Lyon.

They could easily have won by a greater margin as the officials ruled out four more of their scores on a day when Lyon stayed in touch for a half before the Guinness PRO14 champions pulled clear.

Dave Kearney helped himself to two tries, while Max Deegan secured the bonus point after the break on his way to man-of-the-match honours.

Leinster can secure the top seed next week when they travel to Benetton looking to make it six wins from six.

Warriors made to pay for mistakes

After racing to an early lead through tries from Tommy Seymour and Huw Jones inside eight minutes, Glasgow Warriors looked to be well in the ascendency against Exeter Chiefs.

The Scottish outfit came into the game knowing they realistically needed a bonus-point win to keep hopes of qualification in their own hands.

They looked to be on track to do just that after easing to a 17-10 lead before a shoulder charge from Callum Gibbins swung the momentum Exeter’s way.

The Chiefs took full advantage of the extra man and ran in two converted tries to leave Glasgow behind in the game.

To their credit they battled back but were ultimately thankful to the crossbar as former Warrior Stuart Hogg saw a last-minute penalty fall just short as the game ended 31-31.

Cooney can’t prevent Ulster defeat

Clermont proved too strong for Ulster on their way to a 29-13 victory which saw them move three points clear of the Irish outfit in Pool 3.

The game may have ended in defeat, but it was notable for the quality of John Cooney as he scored all his side’s points.

The scrum-half converted his own try and added nine more points from the tee via penalties in a fine solo display as Ulster dominated early on.

However Dan McFarland’s side chose to go for tries over points in a first half they controlled, and that proved their undoing in the Massif Central

Despite the loss, Ulster sit second heading into the final round of pool games, knowing a win will see them through while they will require a favour from Harlequins if they are to finish top of Pool 3.

Ospreys downed by 14 men

A red card in the fifth minute is possibly the worst way to start a game of rugby, but the Ospreys could not quite take advantage as they went down to a 22-15 loss against Saracens.

The defending champions saw Rhys Carre sent off after leading with the shoulder in a tackle and Ospreys would have fancied their chances of causing an upset.

Saracens, though, had other ideas and despite a Dan Evans double, could not get the better of the defending champions.

Ospreys failed to build on the lead from Evans’ second and were eventually put to the sword by the boot of Manu Vunipola in a loss which leaves them with two points to their name.

Munster all but out

It looks to be the end of the road for Munster after they went down to a 39-22 defeat on the road against Racing 92.

The defeat means Munster need a bonus point win from their final game and results to go their way elsewhere if they are to stand any chance of making the knockout stages.

They had looked like they might hand the French side a rare home defeat in Europe as they raced into an early 9-0 lead, while Andrew Conway’s intercept score put them 16-11 up at the break.

In the end though, a close-run game was finally decided in the last ten minutes when tries from Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa and Juan Imhoff turned the tide and sent Racing through.

Connacht brushed aside by unbeaten Toulouse

Toulouse have been unstoppable in Europe this season and Connacht were the latest to fall to the French side, going down to a 21-7 defeat.

The loss ends Connacht’s slim hopes of progressing in Europe this season and leaves them stranded in third in their group.

Despite the loss, Connacht started the game brightly and broke the deadlock with a penalty try before Toulouse clicked into gear and took proceedings away from the visitors.

The visitors’ indiscipline let them down in the closing stages, but even when down to 13 men, they held out Connacht to clinch victory and a quarter-final.

Battling Benetton beaten

A stubborn defensive display wasn’t enough for Benetton as they suffered a 33-20 defeat at the hands of Northampton Saints.

Much like in the first meeting between the sides, Benetton were right in this one, leading going into the final ten minutes.

Tommaso Benvenuti’s try had put them 10-5 up at the break, while Hame Faiva went over in the second half.

Only a point separated the two sides as the game approached its close, but Saints, who had been wasteful throughout, found their rhythm late on to score two tires in the final ten minutes.



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