Le­in­ster rout Saints as Con­nacht, Le­ices­ter win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Triple cham­pi­ons Le­in­ster handed Northamp­ton a record Euro­pean Cup de­feat in a nine-try, 60-13 rout Satur­day as Con­nacht and Le­ices­ter kept their quar­ter­fi­nal hopes alive with dra­matic last-minute kicks. One week ago, Le­in­ster beat the Saints 37-10 in their first Pool 4 meet­ing a game marked by Northamp­ton’s Eng­land skip­per Dyan Hart­ley be­ing red-carded af­ter just six min­utes. On Satur­day, the English side, al­ready strug­gling in fourth from bot­tom spot in the Premier­ship, were stunned again de­spite briefly lead­ing in Dublin when Ken Pisi scored an 80-me­tre break­away try to go 13-5 up.

But the 2009, 2011 and 2012 cham­pi­ons were 29-13 ahead by the in­ter­val thanks to Adam Byrne’s sec­ond try and fur­ther scores from Luke McGrath and Sean O’Brien. Af­ter the break, Tadhg Fur­long, Sean Cronin, skip­per Isa Nacewa (two) and Rory O’Lough­lin added fur­ther tries as Northamp­ton were hu­mil­i­ated. Nacewa added 15 points with the boot.

The win moved Le­in­ster to 16 points at the top of Pool 4, six ahead of Mont­pel­lier who face fel­low French side Cas­tres yes­ter­day. Northamp­ton re­main bot­tom with just four points.

“We were pretty clin­i­cal in tak­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties that we cre­ated,” said Le­in­ster coach Leo Cullen. Saints boss Jim Mallinder, who made 10 changes to his team, added: “We’re out of Europe. We were al­ways go­ing to strug­gle. We knew that be­fore the game.”

Con­nacht avenged last week’s 32-17 loss to Wasps when back­row for­ward Nau­lia Dawai bar­relled over for the try with 81 min­utes on the clock. That made it 18-18 with fly-half Jack Carty hold­ing his nerve to kick the win­ning con­ver­sion for 20-18 from tight on the line as the Gal­way Sports­grounds crowd held their breath.

“I just tried to block out the pres­sure,” said Carty who was his team’s only fit goal­kicker. “It’s a feel­ing of pride and re­lief.” Wasps took a los­ing bonus point and still head Pool 2. But they are locked on 13 points along with four-time cham­pi­ons Toulouse and Con­nacht with only the group win­ners guar­an­teed a quar­ter-fi­nal spot. The English side were ahead at 7-3 early in the first half thanks to a try from scrum-half Joe Simp­son af­ter Nathan Hughes had been held up short of the line.

But a Carty penalty fol­lowed by a con­verted try from Danie Pool­man, af­ter a scrum against the head, gave Con­nacht a 13-7 lead at the in­ter­val.

Wasps clawed back to 13-13 be­fore winger Josh Bas­sett sprinted over for his team’s sec­ond try for an 18-13 lead with just seven min­utes left. How­ever, Con­nacht weren’t fin­ished and Carty’s de­ci­sion to kick for the cor­ner al­lowed the home side to set-up a line-out drive which car­ried Dawai over for the ty­ing score.

Toulouse ran in eight tries in a 54-15 rout of Ital­ian whip­ping boys Ze­bre, who have con­ceded 224 points in four games. Le­ices­ter needed a last-minute, long-dis­tance penalty to de­feat Mun­ster 18-16.

Le­ices­ter, the 2001 and 2002 win­ners, were 16-15 down with one minute left af­ter hooker Niall Scan­nell had grabbed the game’s only try for Mun­ster, the 2006 and 2008 cham­pi­ons.

But with the clock tick­ing down, Mun­ster flanker CJ Stander was pe­nalised and Welsh fly-half Owen Wil­liams coolly slot­ted the win­ning penalty from 52 me­tres. Wil­liams kicked all of Le­ices­ter’s points with a per­fect six from six as the Tigers avenged last week­end’s 38-0 maul­ing by Mun­ster at Thomond Park.—

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