Dragons out to make it two from two
November 16, 2011
Felipe Contepomi shone for Stade in their tournament opener © Getty Images
Agen 8 - 29 Brive Wasps 38 - 7 Rovigo Lyon 19 - 26 Toulon Crociati Rugby 3 - 34 Worcester Warriors Exeter Chiefs 68 - 0 Cavalieri Prato Petrarca Padova 3 - 34 Newcastle Falcons Sale Sharks 59 - 6 La Vila Round 2: Stade Français v Bucuresti at Paris, Nov 18, 2011 Dragons 23 - 13 Perpignan Bayonne 20 - 3 Bordeaux Begles
Newport-Gwent Dragons host Perpignan on Thursday in the eye-catching fixture of the weekend as we embark on the second round of Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures.
Both sides in Pool 4 enjoyed winning starts in the first round with Newport despatching Cavalieri Prato in convincing fashion 33-3. However, their victory was tarnished by an injury to Welsh flanker Dan Lydiate. And they will also be without skipper Luke Charteris for the clash after he was ruled out until December. Perpignan, however, have star fly-half James Hook to call upon after he guided the Top 14 side to a narrow 15-12 win over Exeter Chiefs in the first round.
With Perpignan and Newport both starting their campaigns with wins, Maxime Mermoz has called on Hook for inside information against a side he is familiar with. And the Welsh fly-half lines up at half-back for the clash with former England prop Perry Freshwater captaining the side. The Dragons have Wales World Cup duo Toby Faletau and Lloyd Burns in their ranks for the clash at Rodney Parade.
But while they have been buoyed by a first round win, Exeter Chiefs have it all to do but will fancy their chances at Sandy Park against Cavalieri on Saturday.
Thursday's other clash sees an all-French match as Bayonne host Bordeaux at the Stade Jean Dauger. Bordeaux were on the wrong end of a thrashing by Wasps in the opening round as the Aviva Premiership side ran out 47-14 victors with winger Christian Wade crossing for a hat-trick in the process. With Wasps hosting Rovigo on Sunday, Bayonne will look to put down a marker in Pool 3 after despatching Rovigo 43-10 in Italy last Saturday. The Top 14 side had the likes of Joe Rokocoko and Cedric Heymans - who will have to settle for a place on the bench - to call upon for their clash with Rovigo and will look to their plethora of international talent to get them past their French rivals.
Top 14 giants Stade Francais started their campaign in impressive fashion with a hard-fought 23-14 win over Worcester Warriors at Sixways in Pool 1. Former England winger Paul Sackey scored the match winning try while they had Argentinean fly-half Felipe Contepomi to thank with the Pumas half-back slotting 18 points during the match. And they will look to pile the points on Romanian side Bucuresti when the pair meet in Paris on Friday. Worcester, meanwhile, face an uphill battle to qualify from Pool 1 even at this early stage after their loss to Stade. However, Richard Hill's side travel to Crociati on Saturday looking for a bonus-point win. Crociati fell to Bucuresti in round one 34-7 in Romania.
The other match on Friday is at Edgeley Park as Aviva Premiership side Sale Sharks host tournament debutants La Vila in Pool 5. Brive despatched Steve Diamond's side 26-18 last Saturday but Sale will hope to rekindle their qualification aspirations with a commanding performance in front of their home support. La Vila, meanwhile, had a forgetful first foray into European rugby as they were easily beaten 50-10 by Agen last weekend with Silvere Tian helping himself to a hat-trick.
French big spenders Toulon, who have unveiled new-signings Simon Shaw and Matt Giteau this week, piled the points on Petrarca in the opening round of the competition as they ran out 53-22 winners despite fielding a largely second-string side. They travel to Top 14 newcomers Lyon on Saturday while Lyon's conquerors in the first round Newcastle host Petarca. Despite having started their season in poor fashion - currently lying at the foot of the Premiership - the Falcons put their domestic woes behind them with a 27-19 win over Lyon at Kingston Park. The Premiership side failed to secure the bonus point but prevailed thanks to tries from Tim Swinson, James Fitzpatrick and scrum-half Jordi Pasqualin and will be hoping for more of the same against Petrarca come Saturday.
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