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Amlin Challenge Cup - Round 4
Brive snatch victory against Sale
ESPNscrum Staff
December 20, 2010
Gloucester centre Mike Tindall tries to break the gain-line, Gloucester v La Rochelle, Amlin Challenge Cup, Kingsholm, Gloucester, December 19, 2010
Gloucester's Mike Tindall tries to break the gain-line during his side's clash with La Rochelle at Kingsholm © Getty Images
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Brive maintained their unbeaten run in this season's Amlin Challenge Cup with a narrow 18-15 victory over Sale in their re-arranged Pool 2 clash at Edgeley Park on Monday night.

A try from centre Mathew Tait and eight points from the boot of fly-half Nick MacLeod gave the Sharks a narrow 13-12 lead at the break with Brive fullback Julien Caminati keeping his side in touch with four penalties. The visitors' hopes were dealt a blow ten minutes into the second half with centre Jamie Noon shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Sale hooker Marc Jones but the hosts were unable to capitalise and were duly punished by a last minute penalty from Caminati to win the game after the Sale pack had been penalised at a scrum.

Gloucester's hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals are hanging by a thread after a 24-18 defeat by Pool 5 rivals La Rochelle at Kingsholm on Sunday evening. The Cherry and Whites beat the French side at Marcel Deflandre but they came off second best on home soil despite outscoring their visitors by three tries to two.

Thomas Soucaze crossed for La Rochelle after just eight minutes and although Gloucester hit back through wing Lesley Vainikolo, the Top 14 outfit went in ten points up at the break courtesy of Jonathan Garcia's touchdown in the dying seconds of the first period. Vainikolo dragged Gloucester back into it when he claimed his second try just after the hour and Freddie Burns set up a grandstand finish when he dived over on 75 minutes, just moments after La Rochelle centre Vincent Roux had picked up his second yellow card for deliberately killing the ball at the breakdown.

That meant that the visitors spent the closing stages with just 13 men because Tamato Leopolu had been sent to the sin bin just seconds before Roux's second indiscretion. However, La Rochelle held on resolutely to move level on points with Pool 5.

Newcastle Falcons replacement Jeremy Manning calmly kicked a last-minute penalty to seal a 26-24 victory over Exeter Chiefs in their Pool 3 clash at Galashiels earlier in the day. The severe weather conditions forced the game to be switched from Kingston Park, but Newcastle were soon at home and established a 17-6 lead by half time. Jimmy Gopperth slotted three penalties while Gcobani Bobo went over for a try ten minutes before the break. Exeter fly-half Ryan Davis kicked two penalties for Exeter.

And the visitors hit back with tries from Phil Dollman and Mark Foster, with Davis landing two penalties and Gareth Steenson converting Foster's try to put them two points clear with two minutes remaining. But, after Gopperth had landed a penalty and a drop-goal during the second half, Manning came on to kick the last-gaps penalty.

Henry Fa'afili scored two tries as Leeds thrashed Crociati Rugby 44-6 in Italy to keep their hopes of pipping Stade Francais to top spot in Pool 4 alive. Ceiron Thomas converted a penalty try before Michael Stephenson also crossed the tryline and Thomas kicked another penalty to build a 15-6 half-time lead. And in the second half they ran riot with Rhys Oakley, Phil Nilsen, Luther Burrell all scoring before Fa'afili's two late tries. Thomas converted two of the second-half scores. Crociati could only manage two penalty kicks from Tommaso Iannone by way of a response.

Harlequins stayed on course for place in the last eight with a 15-9 victory over Connacht at the Sportsground on Friday night. Five first-half penalties from Nick Evans gave Quins the double over their Pool 1 rivals following their 20-9 victory over the Irishmen at The Stoop last weekend. The former New Zealand international landed five out of six shots in an error-strewn and penalty-laden opening 40 minutes.

Miah Nikora's two penalties twice got Connacht back on level terms and Ian Keatley added another just before half-time to keep the hosts in touch, but there was no further score after the interval despite yellow cards for Quins cente Jason Turner-Hall for an off the ball challenge and the home side's replacement lock Bernie Upton, who was caught using his elbow illegally as he drove into a ruck, and prop Jamie Hagan for another ruck offence.

Quins lie second in the group, one point behind Bayonne, who defeated Cavalieri Prato 31-7 in their rearranged clash at in Italy on Monday afternoon.

Agen cruised to a thumping 61-11 victory over Rovigo in France in Pool 5 on Saturday. Saimoni Vaka, Opeti Fonua and Junior Pelesasa all scored two tries each for the French side with Conrad Barnard slotting eight conversions. Lisiate Fa'aoso and Miguel Avramovic were also on the scoresheet with a try apiece. Stefan Basson kicked two penalties and Massimiliano Ravalle grabbed a try for the visitors.

Elsewhere in Pool 2, centre Jaime Nava grabbed a try, two conversions and six penalties as El Salvador claimed a 37-16 victory over Petrarca Rugby on Sunday. Second-row Ivan Cirado also scored a try for the hosts while Alberto Chillon kicked two penalties and Agustin Costa Repetto and Agustin Cavalieri both scored tries for the visitors

Stade Francais thrashed Bucuresti 35-7 to move 10 points clear of second-placed Leeds in Pool 4 of the Amlin Challenge Cup on Thursday night. The French giants cruised to a bonus-point win after being run close by their Romanian rivals last weekend, with flanker Pierre Rabadan bagging a brace of tries.

Argentinian centre Gonzalo Tiesi, second-rower Alexandre Flanquart and hooker Laurent Sempere also breached the vistitors' defence. Bucuresti's only points came through a 64th minute Madalin Lemnaru try and conversion from fullback Florin Vlaicu.

And in Pool 3, Bourgoin kept their hopes of progressing to the last eight alive with a 36-18 victory over leaders Montpellier. Tries from wingers Jean-Francois Coux and Anthony Forest, replacement Wessel Jooste and flanker Alex Tulou ensured the hosts secured a bonus point with the boot of Raphael Lagarde providing all of Montpellier's points courtesy of five penalties and a drop goal.

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