South Africans Ashley Johnson and Nizaam Carr’s tries should have been enough for a Wasps win against Harlequins but a red card to James Haskell turned the match and the result with Harlequins winning for the first time in this season’s Champions Cup.
Carr returns for the Stormers in February but his time in the United Kingdom, playing in the Aviva Premiership and Champions Cup, has added to his already impressive skill set.
South African-dominated Montpellier were hammered away from home at Exeter Chiefs. The hosts won 41-10 against a Montpellier team that had six South Africans in their starting XV, including midfielders Frans Steyn and Jan Serfontein and veteran Bok hooker Bismarck du Pleases. It meant Chiefs did the double on Montpellier in this season’s Group stages.
Saracens, with four South Africans in the match 23 (SA-born England international Brad Barritt, Michael Rhodes and Springboks Vincent Koch and Schalk Burger) drew 15-all at the Ospreys.
Both the teams (with 17 tries respectively) are the leading team try scorers in this season’s competition but in an intense battle neither could brea
All the match reports from the weekend’s action can be viewed on the official Champions Cup match centre.
Ospreys 15 Saracens 15
- Northampton Saints’ shock triumph over Pool 2 leaders ASM Clermont Auvergne earlier in the afternoon placed an added incentive on this crunch clash, but neither side were able to prevail, meaning ASM Clermont Auvergne retain a four-point lead at the summit with one round left to play before the knockout stages.
- Early pressure paid dividends for Saracens in the Welsh capital as Farrell nudged the visitors into a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter courtesy of Ospreys’ indiscipline.
- Ospreys had a prime opportunity to seize the initiative when Rhys Webb released Ashley Beck deep into Saracens territory, only for the centre to squander possession as his inside pass was unable to locate an Ospreys jersey.
- Farrell went on to trade more penalty kicks with opposite number and Wales fly-half Dan Biggar as Saracens carried a slender 9-6 lead into the break.
- In a bruising encounter both sides began emptying their benches and Biggar levelled the scores at 9-9 with his third three-pointer of the evening, only for Farrell to nudge the visitors back ahead.
- In slotting a fourth penalty, Farrell surpassed Argentine Diego Dominguez to move fourth in the all-time European points scorers charts with 647 to his name.
- Saracens’ American winger Chris Wyles was sent to the sin bin on 66 minutes and Ospreys made the personnel advantage count as Biggar drew the sides level once more with eight minutes to play.
- England’s playmaker extraordinaire Farrell thought he had the final say as he rounded his tally up to 650, but Biggar booted Ospreys to parity in the dying embers of the match.
- The Welsh region, who retain second place are four points adrift of ASM Clermont Auvergne, who host Ospreys at the Stade Marcel Michelin next weekend, while Saracens face off with bottom side Northampton Saints at Allianz Park.
Harlequins 33 Wasps 28
Harlequins rallied from 28-12 down to steal a sensational 33-28 triumph over Wasps in a ferocious encounter at the Twickenham Stoop, a classic showdown which underpinned the age-old rivalry between the clubs.
- Wasps travelled to London seeking a bonus-point victory to move within two points of Pool 1 leaders Ulster Rugby, who they face at the Ricoh Arena next weekend, yet the Coventry-based side failed to close out the match and were stung in the tail.
- England centre Kyle Eastmond, No 8 Nizaam Carr and prop Ashley Johnson all crossed the whitewash in the opening half hour as Wasps amassed an impressive 21-0 lead, courtesy of Danny Cirpriani conversions.
- However, despite the flying start from Wasps, Harlequins refused to relent as replacement winger Ross Chisholm scored their first try, before fly-half James Lang converted his own try under the posts to bring the scores to 21-12 in favour of the visitors at the interval.
- When Wasps centre Brendan Macken evaded the defensive efforts of Jamie Roberts to add a bonus-point try and extend the advantage to 16 points, Dai Young would have expected his side to see the tie off.
- Yet Young’s opposite number John Kingston had different ideas as he introduced maverick fly-half Marcus Smith, fresh from signing his first professional contract at just 18-years-old, who would go on play a pivotal role in a spellbinding comeback.
- England scrum-half Danny Care sniped over on 65 minutes before Smith’s sweeping pass out wide allowed barnstorming hooker Elia Elia to force his way over five minutes later.
- James Haskell was then shown a straight red card as Wasps struggled to absorb the Harlequins pressure and the hosts turned it around in dying embers of the match as James Chisholm dotted down and Smith’s conversion completed a remarkable result.
- Wasps do still hold a chance in Pool 1 of the Champions Cup, but will be reliant on results elsewhere, while Harlequins will take a significant boost from their first win of the competition.
Saints 34 Clermont 21
Northampton Saints blew Pool 2 of the European Rugby Champions Cup wide open with their first victory of the competition, defeating runaway leaders ASM Clermont Auvergne 34-21 in a pulsating continental clash at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday evening.
- Remy Grosso’s second-minute try ensured a flying start for ASM Clermont Auvergne, but Northampton Saints offered a swift riposte as Teimana Harrison crashed over the whitewash to bring the hosts back within two points of the French giants, only for Isaia Toeava to race home and push the visitors to a 12-5 lead after 16 minutes.
- Replacement winger Nafi Tuitavake would cross in for Northampton Saints shortly after a Morgan Parra penalty to ensure the deficit was just five points at the interval, with many expecting the French side to return to dominate the second period.
- Yet hosts Northampton Saints would draw first blood after the break as Harry Mallinder slotted a penalty kick, only for Ben Foden to break away and score a sensational solo try, deserving of his Heineken Man of the Match merit come full time.
- French scrum-half Parra went on to add another two three-pointers as ASM Clermont Auvergne regained the lead and the Midlands atmosphere began exceptionally tense, but Northampton Saints had the bit between their teeth and eyes firmly set on a first Champions Cup win of the season.
- Tries from Ken Pisi and Cobus Reinach saw the Saints go marching in style with a shock victory, which leaves ASM Clermont Auvergne open at the Pool 2 summit, with just five points separating them from Ospreys who face defending champions Saracens later in the evening.
Chiefs 41 Montpellier 10
Exeter Chiefs breathed life in their Champions Cup campaign with a dominant 41-10 win over Montpellier at Sandy Park, leapfrogging their opponents in Pool 3 at the same time.
- It took 27 minutes for the first points of the afternoon, when Dave Ewers powered over the try line to give Exeter a seven point lead at the interval after Gareth Steenson’s conversion
- Montpellier enjoyed plenty of possession early in the second half, and closed the gap with a penalty kick from Aaron Cruden, but were further behind minutes later when Sam Simmonds was able to jump over the Montpellier defence and score a crucial try.
- Heineken Man of the Match Olly Woodburn then acrobatically scored a pair of brilliant tries, giving the Sandy Park side a 23-point cushion after 65 minutes.
- Nic White and Don Armand added further tries for Exeter, who secured a try bonus-point in the process meaning Nemani Nadolo’s 77th minute try was nothing more than a consolation.
- Exeter Chiefs travel to face Glasgow Warriors in Round 6, while Montpellier host Leinster Rugby at Altrad Stadium.
Ulster 20 La Rochelle 13
Scarlets 35 Bath 17