Bath book their quarter-final spot
January 12, 2013
Bath found it hard going against Agen © Getty Images
Bath booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup with a hard fought 19-16 win over Agen in their Pool 4 clash at the Recreation Ground.
The Aviva Premiership side did not have it easy against their Top 14 rivals with Agen restricting them to just one try. Wales' Paul James grabbed that in the 30th minute with Tom Heathcote adding the rest of their points. Ueleni Fono scored for Agen while fly-half Raphael Lagarde kept them in the mix with 11 points but it proved to be in vain. Elsewhere in the pool, Calvisano accounted for Bucuresti 34-20 in a dead rubber.
London Wasps booked their place in the last eight with an 11-try 71-7 mauling of Pool 3 minnons Mogliano. Winger Tom Varndell led the way with a hat-trick secured within just 13 minutes of the opening whistle - the fastest hat-trick in Amlin Challenge Cup history. Scrum-half Charlie Davies also grabbed a brace as the Premiership side totlally outclassed their Italian opponents. Wasps' win ended the hopes of Bayonne who claimed a 25-22 win over Newport Gwent Dragons at the Stade Jean Dauger on Thursday thanks to a late try from Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips.
Worcester Warriors were also in action on Saturday and they hammered Rovigo 80-17. It looks like Pool 2 will go down to the wire but the Warriors have improved their points difference with their huge win. In total they grabbed 12 tries with Nikki Walker, Blair Cowan and Max Stelling grabbing braces while Josh Drauniniu scored a hat-trick. Perpignan pulled level with the Warriors on points with a 50-15 victory over Bizkaia Gernika RT. If they stay level after the final games in the Pool next weekend, the number of tries scored in their head-to-head games will then come into play and Perpignan have a 3-1 try advantage over the Warriors.
London Welsh were also in action and they hammered Italian side Cavalieri Prato 62-5 in their Pool 5 fixture. Lyn Jones' team scored nine tries with Lee Beach, Dan George, James Lewis, Tom Arscott (two), Alex Davies, Phil MacKenzie, Ashley Smith and Mike Hills all crossing. Stade Francais lost 15-9 to Grenoble but the Parisians are in pole position to qualify from the group. In a game dominated with the boot, Aloisio Buto's four penalties and one from Nicolas Laharrague contributed to the home team's points while Jerome Porical hit three for Stade.
On Friday, Gloucester survived an almighty scare before emerging with a 31-26 win against Pool 1 strugglers Bordeaux-Begles that earned them a place in the quarter-finals. Bordeaux held a 20-19 lead at the break thanks in part to Rafael Carballo and tight-head Tamato Leupolu's tries but Darren Dawidiuk's score for Gloucester kept them within touching distance. And in the second 40, it was the boot of England's Freddie Burns that kept Bordeaux pinned back and eventually proved to be the difference between the two teams. Lachie Munro was also dominating with the boot but his 16-point haul was surpassed by Burns who slotted 21. Gloucester now hold an eight point lead at the top of Pool 1 and will progress into the knockout stages.
That result means that despite London Irish's valiant 20-14 win at Mont de Marsan on Thursday, the Exiles are out of the competition. A brace of tries from Jack Moates secured a third tournament win in five despite director of rugby Brian Smith naming a second-string side for the trip to France. The Exiles built on last week's shock Aviva Premiership win at Kingsholm as scrum-half Moates crossed in each half in difficult conditions at the Stade Guy Boniface.
Qualifers to date for the 2012/13 Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance
"I am bored of hearing 'I can't fault the effort'. Let us take that for granted and look for some quality." John Taylor writes
Reports comparing the 2014 Wallabies with their rabble-like predecessors of 2005 are unfair and self-serving, Greg Growden reports