Toulouse put Ospreys to the sword

Sat, Dec 8, 2012, 00:00

Heineken Cup round-up – Pool 2: Toulouseput the Ospreysto the sword with a rampant second-half performance to take control of the pool with a 30-14 victory at the Stade Ernest Wallon.

The four-time winners led just 12-7 at the interval thanks to quick-fire tries from Florian Fritz and Yannick Nyanga.

The Ospreys hit back with a try from Kahn Fotuali’i but the second half was a one-team affair as Vincent Clerc, Census Johnson, Yoann Huget all crossed over.

The visitors again responded with a try, this time from Ryan Bevington, but it was too little too late.

The victory sees the French giants stretch their lead at the top of the group to eight points with Leicester set to face Benetton Treviso on Sunday.

Pool 3: Harlequinsremain on course for top spot in the pool after a comprehensive 57-14 victory over Zebrein Parma.

The Aviva Premiership pacesetters ran in eight tries to secure a winning bonus point.

Sam Smith scored a brace with Nick Easter, Matt Hopper, Rob Buchanan and Ben Botica also among the scorers for Conor O’Shea’s high fliers, who also managed two scrum penalty tries.

The most Zebre could manage on a bitterly cold day was a first-half breakaway try by Leonardo Sarto and a late consolation for Alberto Chillon.

With Biarritz losing to Connacht last night, Quins’ destiny now lies in their own hands and victory in next week’s return against Zebre will effectively seal their passage through to the quarter-finals.

Pool 5:Outhalf Gareth Steenson kicked 17 points as Exetersecured their first-ever Heineken Cup win with a 22-16 success over Scarletsat Parc y Scarlets.

Scrumhalf Haydn Thomas gave the visitors the perfect start with a try on five minutes and the Chiefs led throughout from there on.

The Scarlets, who saw Wales outhalf Rhys Priestland carried from the field with an ankle injury in the second half, did grab back a late penalty try from a scrum but it was not enough as they crashed to a third straight European defeat in a pool that also includes reigning champions Leinster.

Pool 6: Toulonmade it three wins out of three with a 17-6 victory at Salford City Stadium but did little to justify their tag of favourites with an unconvincing performance against struggling Sale.

Filthy conditions did much to bridge the gulf in class between a star-studded side leading the French Top 14 and one propping up the Aviva Premiership, but the visitors did just enough to secure the crucial points, with winger David Smith scoring the only try and Jonny Wilkinson kicking four penalties from seven attempts.

A second defeat to French opposition ahead of next week’s re-match on the Cote D’Azure leaves the Sharks with little hope of qualification for the knockout stages, but their priority is survival in the Premiership and new director of rugby John Mitchell will doubtless be encouraged by his side’s gritty display.

Sale’s points came from the boot of Danny Cipriani, who was promoted to the starting line-up following the late withdrawal of Cameron Shepherd through illness and the switch of Rob Miller to fullback.

Miller had a superb game in his regular position while Cipriani held his own against the vastly experienced Wilkinson, but the Sharks were unable to carve out a single clear-cut try scoring chance.

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