Sara­cens equal Euro­pean Cup record with Sale win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Sara­cens de­feated Sale 24-10 for a record-equalling 13th con­sec­u­tive Euro­pean Cup vic­tory on Sun­day to vir­tu­ally wrap-up a quar­ter-fi­nal spot.

The English side have 18 points from four Pool 3 matches, eight ahead of three-time cham­pi­ons Toulon. They are the only un­beaten side left this year even if Sun­day’s win was nowhere near as con­vinc­ing as their 50-3 rout of Sale in the teams’ first meet­ing last week­end.

The game’s three tries all came in the last eight min­utes with Eng­land fly-half Owen Far­rell go­ing over from close range af­ter a one­handed off­load by Will Skel­ton.

Far­rell also kicked 14 points al­though he un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally missed two straight­for­ward penal­ties. Nathan Earle added Sara­cens’ se­cond try three min­utes from time for a 24-3 lead be­fore Bryn Evans scored a con­so­la­tion try in the last minute for a Sale side who have lost all four games and re­main with­out a point. The win al­lowed Sara­cens to equal the record of 13 wins in a row held by Mun­ster since 2007 while Sale fans had the con­so­la­tion of see­ing Kiwi winger Denny Solomona make his de­but af­ter his con­tro­ver­sial switch from Su­per League’s Castle­ford.

Sale’s chal­lenge wasn’t helped by hav­ing three play­ers sin-binned. “Across the board, it was the kind of game you can get frus­trated-it seems to change from one week to the next,” said Sara­cens coach Mark McCall. “I think we need ref­er­ees to use judge­ment but you’re re­ly­ing on the opin­ion of the ref­eree on the day. That’s po­ten­tially a dan­ger­ous thing to do.” Cler­mont took re­venge on Ul­ster as a five-try, 38-19 win pro­pelled the Top 14 lead­ers to the brink of the quar­ter-fi­nals.

The French side were beaten 39-32 in Belfast last week, but af­ter sur­viv­ing a scare in the se­cond half on Sun­day, they stretched their lead in Pool 5 to 17 points, eight ahead of Bordeaux and Ul­ster. Cler­mont scored three tries in the first 25 min­utes through Isaia To­eva and a brace from English full-back Nick Aben­danon.

HALFPENNY FALLS SHORT

The bonus point was as­sured just af­ter the in­ter­val thanks to an in­ter­cep­tion try from fly­half Camille Lopez as Cler­mont swept to 28-0 lead. But Ul­ster ral­lied with three tries of their own through Tommy Bowe, who scored two, and Franco van der Merwe to cut the deficit to 28-19. Cler­mont stead­ied the ship with a Lopez penalty af­ter 69 min­utes be­fore a penalty try was awarded three min­utes from the end.

“It’s a good vic­tory but at 28-0 ahead we should not have let them back in the game,” ad­mit­ted Cler­mont scrum-half Mor­gan Parra, who con­verted all five of his team’s tries.

Toulon suf­fered their se­cond de­feat in four games, go­ing down 22-21 to the Scar­lets. Welsh full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked all of Toulon’s points on his re­turn to South Wales with seven penal­ties.

How­ever, his last-minute at­tempt from long dis­tance missed the tar­get as Scar­lets kept their quar­ter-fi­nal hopes alive. Cen­tre Scott Wil­liams scored the only try of the match for the Welsh re­gion in the first half with Rhys Patchell kick­ing the re­main­der of the Scar­lets’ points.

“The boys will en­joy this. We don’t get op­por­tu­ni­ties to play a side like Toulon, with their ex­pe­ri­ence and his­tory, too of­ten,” said Scar­lets coach Wayne Pi­vac.

“It would have been pretty cruel if we had lost it at the death.” In Pool 4, Cas­tres edged fel­low French side Mont­pel­lier 29-23 in a game where the los­ing side had Paul Willemse red­carded for charg­ing into a ruck. Three-time cham­pi­ons Le­in­ster lead the pool, five points ahead of Mont­pel­lier and seven in front of Cas­tres, af­ter hand­ing Northamp­ton a record Euro­pean Cup de­feat in a nine-try, 60-13 de­mo­li­tion on Satur­day. — AFP

PARIS: Denny Solomona fails to gather the ball cleanly un­der close at­ten­tion from Sara­cens’ Chris Wyles dur­ing his de­but for Sale. — AP

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