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European Challenge Cup
Quins slump to Bayonne defaet
ESPNscrum Staff
October 7, 2010

Harlequins slumped to a 16-12 Amlin Challenge Cup defeat against Bayonne in atrocious conditions at the Stade Jean Dauger on Sunday evening.

With rain driving down throughout the game and a sodden surface sapping the energy of the players, Quins failed to breach a stubborn Bayonne defence as the French side scrambled to victory.

It had been looking far brighter for Quins as they took a 12-5 lead by the 26th minute with Nick Evans kicking four penalties despite the slippery surface. At that stage the home side's only points had come via a try from winger Joe Pietersen.

But a penalty from Benjamin Boyet and try from Sam Gerber - who seized on a Quins mistake before gathering and sliding in at the corner just after half time - gave the hosts a one point advantage. And as the conditions deteriorated even further, scoring opportunities became even scarcer.

So much so that Quins failed to score a single point for the rest of the game as handling errors, dogged defence from their opponents and the sin-binning of Chris Robshaw in the 66th minute, thwarted their efforts.

Ultimately the only points of the second half came from the boot of scrum-half Cedric Garcia, who slotted a penalty in the 67th minute that ensured Bayonne went straight to the top of Pool 1 and Harlequins' European campaign started with defeat. Harlequins did, however, have the consolation of gaining a bonus point away from home.

Exeter Chiefs suffered a 20-13 defeat to Montpellier on their Amlin Challenge Cup debut at Sandy Park in Pool 3.

The French side out-scored Exeter two tries to one in an attritional encounter in the West Country. The visitors accelerated to a 20-6 advantage by the 44th minute and, although Exeter fought hard in the second half, they failed to overhaul their opponents.

Ryan Davis' penalty in the fourth minute gave Exeter cause for early optimism but Montpellier then took control, scoring 20 points while Exeter could only muster another Davis penalty. Winger Dimitri Pelo and centre Seta Tuilevuka both crossed for the French side with Raphael Lagarde slotting two penalties along with the two conversions.

Flanker Chad Slade then breached the Montepllier defences, with Phil Dollman converting, to give the Chiefs a glimmer of hope in the 68th minute. But they could not find a way through the visitors defence for a second time as Montpellier held on for the win.

Leeds Carnegie narrowly avoided a major upset as they eventually beat Bucureşti 23-9 in Bucharest on Saturday afternoon in their Amlin Challenge Cup clash.

The hosts were leading 6-3 and contemplating a famous victory until the 55th minute, but a penalty try and a Henry Fa'afili score saved Leeds' blushes.

The hosts took a 6-0 lead through Florin Vlaicu as the prospect of an upset was raised in Bucharest. Christian Lewis-Pratt landed a penalty but the hosts still led 6-3 at the break and were looking strong in the second half.

But a penalty try in the 55th minute transformed the game with Lewis-Pratt converting to put Leeds 10-6 up. A further penalty from Lewis-Pratt and another from replacement fly-half Ceiron Thomas in the 70th minute extended their advantage before Leeds eventually sealed the victory in the dying minutes. Fa'afili went over with time almost up, leaving Vlaicu's penalty little consolation for the beaten hosts.

Cavalieri Prato recorded a famous 23-21 win over Connacht in a dramatic Amlin Challenge Cup Pool 1 clash on Saturday.

Ian Keatley slotted over a kick in front of the posts after 15 minutes to open the scoring and the fly-half then scooted over the line to finish a fluent move involving Rob Sweeney, Cillian Willis and Darragh Fanning. He added the conversion and then kicked another penalty on the stroke of half-time to give the Irish side the advantage.

It took Connacht just three minutes of the second half to add another try with lock Bernie Upton the jubilant scorer. The Irish side continued to dominate, in no small thanks to a lop-sided penalty count, but a host of handling errors frustrated them.

And the game was reinvigorated when Cavalieri winger Niccolo Tempestini scored a try and Rima Wakarua converted. Wakarua added two further penalties minutes later and Connacht appeared to be wilting under the pressure as they led just 18-16. But Keatley held his nerve to kick a penalty and extend their advantage to five points.

However with two minutes remaining Woulter Moore broke away and raced the length of the pitch to touchdown, a try which Wakarua converted. Keatley hit a post with a drop-goal attempt in the dying seconds as Cavaleiri held on for a massive win.

La Rochelle ran in five tries as they recorded a comfortable 38-3 victors away at Rovigo in Pool 5.

Tries from Florian Ninard and Quentin D'Aram, with the single coversion from Benjamin Dambielle, helped the visitors to a comfortable half-time advantage..

A penalty from German Bustos was the only source of joy for the home fans and Rovigo's cause was disrupted by the sin binning of Younes Anouer six minutes before the break. The one-sided nature of the contest continued in the second half.

Benjamin Ferrouand, Guillaume Devade and Franco Pani all crossed for La Rochelle with Dambielle finding his range and adding three conversions. Rovigo's unhappy afternoon was exasperated with a second sin binning, this time Flavio Damiano the culpit.

Opeti Fonua scored a controversial last-gasp try as Agen claimed a 26-19 over Gloucester after a dramatic Amlin Challenge Cup Pool 5 encounter at the Stade Armandie on Friday night.

Welsh fly-half Nicky Robinson kicked two early penalties for the visitors and although his opposite number Valentin Courrent halved Agen's deficit with one of his own, the Cherry and Whites went in ten points up at the interval courtesy of a converted try from hooker Scott Lawson.

However, the third quarter belonged to the home side. Courrent landed his second penalty of the evening, on 49 minutes, before Gloucester blindside flanker Peter Buxton saw yellow moments later. Agen made the most of their numerical advantage, sending No.8 Fonua over for a try in the 54th minute. Courrent added the extras to level the game at 13 points apiece.

The well-travelled half-back split the uprights once more shortly after the hour mark to edge his side into the lead for the first time only to see Robinson reply in mind almost immediately. The latter then looked to have nicked it for the visitors when he stroked over another penalty on 73 minutes.

However, centre Mike Tindall was sent to the sin bin almost right from the restart, allowing Courrent to level matters once more. Reduced to 14 men, Gloucester tried valiantly to hold on for a share of the spoils but Fonua broke through to score in the dying seconds. Gloucester's players felt that the back-row had lost control of the ball in the act of scoring but the match officials decided otherwise, leaving the visitors disconsolate.

Elsewhere on Friday night, Sale recorded their biggest ever European win, the Sharks hammering Spannish minnows Cetransa El Salvador 97-11 at Edgeley Park.

Mike Brewer's men racked up a staggering 15 tries in total, with Tom Brady helping himself to a hat-trick. Fergus Mulchrone and Nick Macleod both notched twice, and the latter's eight successful conversion attempts saw him equal Charlie Hodgson's club record of 26 points in one game. Sisaro Koyamaibole, Andy Tuilagi, Chris Bell, Chris Brightwell, Ben Cohen, Chris Jones, Rob Miller and Chris Leck were Sale's other try-scorers. Remarkably, the visitors had actually taken the lead in Stockport, through Jaike Carter.

Sale lead Pool 2 from Brive, who also picked up a winning bonus point on Friday night, albeit not in quite as emphatic fashion, the Frenchmen defeating Petrarca Rugby 32-6 at the Stade Municipal. Julien Caminati, Mathias Atayi, Viliame Waqaseduadua, Régis Lespinas all touched down for Brive.

Newcastle survived a late scare to triumph 22-16 in their first ever meeting with Bourgoin in the tournament's opening tie of the season, on Thursday night.

Tries from Jeremy Manning, Joe Graham and Luke Fielden gave the Falcons victory at Kingston Park. Jeremy Gondrand's score ensured a tense finale but some determined defence prevented the French side turning the game around.

Sebastien Laloo kicked the French side into a 6-0 lead the Falcons launched a superb move started by Luke Eves' break ended with Manning dummying over. Graham burrowed over five minutes later to make it 12-6 at half-time.

Timothy Cowley's last-ditch tackle denied Manning another try before he and Laloo traded penalties. But the Falcons worked an overlap in the 63rd minute, Fielden going over before the converstion saw debutant Joel Hodgson join him in registering his first points for Newcastle.

Replacement scrum-half Gondrand's converted try cut the deficit and tempers flared as he was denied another by James Fitzpatrick's bone-shaking challenge, with replays indicating a punch thrown by Bourgoin substitute Erwan Iapteff in the fracas.

Meanwhile, Stade Francais cruised to a comfortable victory over Crociati Rugby in Pool Four, the French side running in nine tries in a 57-6 win at Stade Charlety.

In what could be called one of the most comprehensive come-from-behind victories in history, the Italians led 3-0 after a minute thanks to Marco Anversa's penalty before the Stade tidal wave arrived.

The victors were happy to share the points around, with wing Martin Rodriguez Gurruchage nabbing the only double and Noel Oelschig grabbed 12 points from six conversions.

Stade's entire back five crossed for tries as Jules Plisson, Hugues Briatte, Hugo Southwell, Guilliaume Bousses, Ollie Phillips, Brian Liebenberg and replacement Benjamin Tardy all scored. Tommaso Iannone also bagged a penalty for the visitors.

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