Champions Cup round-up
POOL 5 - Ospreys 19 Racing Metro 19
Centre Josh Matavesi scored a try five minutes from time to keep alive Ospreys’ European Champions Cup quarter-final hopes at the Liberty Stadium.
French challengers Racing Metro moved level on points with English champions Northampton at the top of Pool Five, but they left Swansea disappointed after leading throughout the contest until Matavesi struck and Dan Biggar converted.
Racing, who were missing Ireland outhalf Johnny Sexton, responded to Saints’ Pool Five bonus point win against Treviso earlier by racing into a 13-point lead, before being hauled back and having to settle for a 19-19 draw.
Lock Francois van der Merwe’s 18th-minute try, plus 14 points from the boot of outhalf Johan Goosen, looked to have preserved Racing’s 100 per cent pool record, but Matavesi had other ideas.
Biggar also kicked four penalties for the Ospreys, but two points gained might still not be enough following an encounter when Racing’s dominant forwards deserved more for their efforts.
Although there are likely to be a number of twists and turns before the quarter-final line-up takes shape next month, Racing’s trip to Northampton in late January already looks like being a group decider.
But the Ospreys have at least given themselves a fighting chance, spurred into a second-half revival largely through the combined excellence of Wales internationals Rhys Webb and Justin Tipuric.
Treviso 15 Northampton 38
Northampton secured maximum points in a demolition of Treviso in Italy.
Scores from Samu Manoa, Alex Waller, Ben Foden, Luther Burrell, George Pisi and a penalty try ensured it was a job well done by Jim Mallinder's side.
Saints number eight Manoa opened the scoring after nine minutes when he finished off a patient build-up by forcing his way over from close range.
Outhalf Stephen Myler added the conversion to give Saints a solid early lead.
Treviso lost lock Francesco Minto to the sin-bin when he tackled Sam Dickinson in an offside position and Saints immediately grabbed a second try.
Myler kicked the penalty to touch and the Saints’ eight were too strong for the Treviso pack, with prop Waller almost powering his way over.
The visitors secured the bonus point within nine minutes of the restart with two quick scores from Foden and Burrell.
The latter was the provider in the first try with a superb pass to set Foden free and he produced a smart finish, with Myler kicking the difficult conversion.
Almost immediately, Saints went over for their first try after excellent work by Tom Stephenson and Jamie Elliot allowed Burrell to finish.
Treviso did get back into the contest when outhalf Carlisle sent a long pass to wing Ludovico Nitoglia to go over in the corner.
Saints’ fifth was a penalty try when Treviso popped up at the scrum and the home side went down to 14 men for the second time when replacement Romulo Acosta was shown a yellow card.
Treviso did, however, manage a second try when the impressive Carlisle intercepted Stephenson’s pass and raced home from 60 metres.
But there will still time for Saints to get their sixth when replacement Pisi touched down with two minutes to go.
POOL 1 - Sale 15 Saracens 19
Owen Farrell scored a try and kicked six points on his return to the Saracens side as they kept themselves in contention with a 19-15 triumph over Sale Sharks that puts them a point ahead of Munster ahead of their game against Clermont on Saturday evening.
Farrell was omitted from an England starting line-up for the first time since 2012 for last month’s win over Australia after several below-par performances, but he played a key role for his club on Saturday.
Thanks to the 23-year-old's try and penalty, and also a three-pointer from Charlie Hodgson, Sarries went into the break with an 11-10 lead, with the Sharks' response coming through Magnus Lund's converted touchdown and Danny Cipriani's penalty.
The visitors appeared to have established their superiority in the second period when Billy Vunipola – who was dropped by England coach Stuart Lancaster for the win over Samoa before then missing the Australia Test with concussion – went over to make it 16-10.
Sale refused to go away and Andrei Ostrikov’s try kept them in contention, but a Farrell drop-goal extended Saracens’ advantage back to four points and, although the home side pressed late on, they could not find a way through.