A review of the weekend’s action in the Heineken Cup.
Dan Carter kicked 16 points to steer Perpignan to a 26-20 Heineken Cup victory over Leicester at Stade Aime Giral on Sunday.
Sporting Life reports that the All Black fly-half succeeded with six kicks from eight attempts, including converting both of Perpignan’s tries, to inflict a first European defeat of the campaign on the visitors.
Tom Croft and Scott Hamilton sparked Leicester’s hopes of upsetting the welcome party for Carter with tries either side of half-time.
Having been 23-10 down, Hamilton’s try helped them reduce the deficit to three points but another Carter penalty gave the hosts breathing space and the Tigers were forced to settle for a losing bonus point which was enough to keep them level on points with Pool Three leaders Ospreys.
Elsewhere on Sunday, fly-half Dave Walder produced another man-of-the-match performance as Wasps strengthened their chances of reaching the quarter-finals with a 19-11 victory over Edinburgh.
Walder scored all of Wasps’ points with a try and faultless kicking display to set up a pivotal showdown with Pool Two leaders Leinster at Twickenham on January 17.
Edinburgh had snatched a narrow 8-7 half-time lead with a slick try from Hugo Southwell and penalty from Phil Godman but Wasps sealed their third Heineken Cup victory of the campaign on the back of Walder’s dead-eye boot.
Matt Banahan inflicted another dose of heartbreak on gutsy Glasgow with a try double in Bath’s 25-19 win at Firhill.
The winger broke through in each half to keep alive his side’s hopes of reaching the knockout rounds of the competition.
With Dan Parks impressing with his kicking, the Warriors had looked capable of snatching pride-boosting revenge for the previous weekend – but Banahan emerged as the chief spoiler.
However, it was Joe Maddock who secured the clinching try – with Butch James converting to give his side a much-needed win.
On Saturday, Nick Evans landed a dramatic drop-goal deep into added time as Harlequins took control of Pool Four with a 19-17 victory over Stade Francais.
The French giants had edged ahead with a drop-goal from Argentina full-back Juan Martin Hernandez with eight minutes remaining before Quins staged a brave and brilliant final rally of 29 phases.
Twice Evans was lined up in the pocket for the drop-goal and both times, with his space cut down by the fast-closing defence, he dummied the kick before carrying Quins deep into the Stade half.
On the second occasion, Ugo Monye almost scampered across in the corner but Quins kept the ball alive brilliantly, knowing one false move would bring the final whistle and defeat, before Evans slotted the winning points.
It was an ugly, scuffed effort – and it needed the television official to confirm it – but the result was a thing of beauty for Quins, who are unbeaten in four Heineken Cup games this season and are now only one win away from the quarter-finals.
Munster snatched a precious victory from the jaws of defeat as they stunned Clermont Auvergne 23-13 with two late tries at Thomond Park.
The defending champions were only five minutes away from suffering their second successive defeat by the French side, but Marcus Horan and Niall Ronan touched down after 76 and 79 minutes, respectively, to rescue the men in red.
Ronan O’Gara provided the perfect finish to an electric afternoon for Munster when he converted Ronan’s try to become the first player to score 1,000 points in the tournament.
A late penalty from Petre Mitu saw Sale Sharks become the first victims of Montauban in the competition as the French side won 16-12.
The replacement struck a 77th-minute penalty to settle this tie at Stade de Sapiac in favour of the tournament newcomers.
Charlie Hodgson kicked four penalties to earn Sale a losing bonus point from their trip to France, but having started the day at the top of Pool One, the Guinness Premiership club are now two points behind new leaders Munster who they face next.
Cardiff remain top of Pool Six after a workmanlike 10-6 victory over Biarritz at Parc des Sports Aguilera.
Jamie Robinson scored the game’s only try after 13 minutes as Cardiff produced a stern defensive display to clinch just their second win in France.
Biarritz hit back through penalties from Damien Traille and Julien Peyrelongue but the result stretched Cardiff’s unbeaten run in the pool to four games and left them on the verge of qualification for the quarter-finals.
In the same pool, Gloucester took a long time to subdue battling Calvisano but in the end got the job done with splendid long-range tries from Matthew Watkins and Lesley Vainikolo to run out 48-5 winners.
With Cardiff winning in Biarritz, Gloucester knew anything less than a bonus-point win over the Italian strugglers would all but put an end to their chances of progressing to the knock-out stages.
And they finished off the Italians in fine style in the end, with Luke Narraway and Mark Foster adding to the braces of Watkins and Vainikolo.
Ospreys claimed a second bonus-point victory in successive weeks as they beat Treviso 36-16.
Number eight Filo Tiatia grabbed the vital fourth try to add to those of Sonny Parker, Alun Wyn Jones and Jonathan Thomas.
In Bath’s group, Toulouse moved closer to a place in this season’s quarter-finals with a 26-13 victory at Newport-Gwent Dragons.
The three-time European champions are top of Pool Five after subduing a spirited Dragons effort at Rodney Parade.
Tries during the opening flurries of each half by wings Maxime Medard and Cedric Heymans emphasised a gulf in class, although Toulouse still had to dig deep.
Leinster suffered a hiccup in the south of France as ice-cool Castres prevailed 18-15 in freezing conditions at Stade Pierre Antoine on Friday.
The Irish province, who won the reverse fixture 33-3 last weekend, could have moved well clear at the top of Pool Two with a bonus-point win.
However, lowly Castres, who are second-from-bottom in the French Championship, pulled off one of the shocks of this season’s competition as Anthony Lagardere kicked them to an inspiring win.
Man-of-the-match Lagardere landed six out of seven penalty attempts, with his sixth and most important success coming 10 minutes from time.
Leinster did muster first half tries from Girvan Dempsey and Jonathan Sexton but despite enjoying a 15-versus-14 advantage when Castres centre Steve Kefu was sin-binned, Michael Cheika’s men were outfought.
In Pool Four Stephen Jones kicked a penalty three minutes from time to earn the Scarlets a 16-16 draw with Ulster and put an end to a 10-match losing run in the tournament over the last two years.
The match was all but meaningless in pool terms because the sides only had one win between them before this game – Ulster’s 26-16 victory over the Scarlets in Belfast last Friday.
Ulster got on the scoreboard first through number 10 Ian Humphreys with a sweetly struck drop-goal from 30 metres out on 12 minutes.
But when visiting number eight Robbie Diack failed to roll away at a ruck inside his own 22, Jones levelled the scores with a 18th-minute penalty.
The Scarlets’ current plight was put into full context when they conceded a soft try on 24 minutes when Humphreys ghosted past opposition lock Vernon Cooper and went over in the right corner.
And seven minutes before half-time Ulster scored a second try when Darren Cave glided between David Lyons and Jonathan Davies before fellow centre Paddy Wallace crashed across the line.
Early in the second half, Scarlets were back in the game when wing Darren Daniel exploited an overlap to go over on the right for a try which was converted by Jones, who then levelled the scores at 13-13 with a penalty on 53 minutes.
But Humphreys used the elements perfectly to slot over his first penalty on 71 minutes to edge Ulster back into a 16-13 advantage.
With three minutes left on the clock Jones ensured the spoils were shared with a penalty in front of the posts.Tweet