Wasps edge out Clermont

Defending champions Wasps edged closer to the European Cup quarter-finals with a thrilling, hard-fought 25-24 win over highly-fancied French outsiders Clermont on Saturday.


Wasps lost 37-27 to Clermont last weekend, but the French outfit initially struggled to contain the Danny Cipriani-inspired Londoners whose free-running style of attack gave them a 22-3 lead at the break.

Live-wire Irish scrum-half Eoin Reddan opened the scoring for Wasps, pouncing on a mistake by counterpart Pierre Mignoni.

Wingers Tom Voyce and Paul Sackey added two more in a first pulsating half, the latter a length-of-the-field move that featured great hands by Cipriani and centre Fraser Waters, with Clermont notching up an Alex King penalty.

But Clermont responded in the second period with two tries from wingers Aurelien Rougerie, with an 80-metre interception, and Vilimoni Delasau, who sprinted in from 90 metres.

Former Wasps stalwart King converted both while Cipriani missed a penalty.

A late Cipriani penalty sealed victory but Emmanuel Etien’s try in injury time to give Clermont a precious bonus point.

In Wales, Cardiff Blues pulled off a shock 31-21 win over Stade Francais, denying the Parisian club – one of the pre-tournament favourites – a vital defensive bonus point and moving into top spot in Pool 3.

Cardiff scored three tries through James Robinson, Tom James and man-of-the-match Paul Tito, with rookie outside-half Dai Flanagan kicking 16 points to secure victory in the tight pool that also includes Bristol and winless Harlequins.

Stade responded with a brace of five-pointers from Julien Arias and Antoine Burban, with David Skrela kicking three penalties and a conversion.

The Blues fully deserved to overturn the 12-6 reverse they had suffered in Paris last weekend.

Stade hooker Dimitri Szarzewski was left ruing his side’s inability to keep hold of the ball.

“It wasn’t the same match at all as last week,” he said. “We had problems getting into the match and after it was too late.

“We let the bonus defensive point go in the last minute. We really have a lot of regrets tonight.” Edinburgh scored a convincing 29-10 win over Leinster in Pool 6 to put a big dent in the Irish province’s chances of getting through to the quarter-finals, with Toulouse and Leicester the other two sides in the group.

London Irish and Perpignan, 23-6 victors over the English club, both look sure to go through from Pool 1 after third-placed Newport-Gwent Dragons suffered suffered a humiliating 24-22 loss to Treviso.

In Pool 4 Saracens ran out 34-26 winners over Viadana, while Gloucester thrashed Bourgoin 51-27 in a 12-try thriller, fly-half Ryan Lamb claiming 26 points to consolidate the English club’s stranglehold on Pool 2.

Sapa-AFP Rugbyweek.com   

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