Harlequins thrash Racing in Nantes
December 7, 2013
Chris Robshaw gets stuck in for Harlequins © Getty Images
Harlequins took a massive step towards the Heineken Cup quarter-finals with a thumping 32-8 bonus-point win away at Racing Metro.
Harlequins did not seem daunted by the partisan Nantes crowd and burst into life early, and their encouraging play was rewarded when Nick Evans went over on the 18-minute mark. He converted his own try and then added a penalty as Quins stretched out the lead, and they could have gone further in front but Matt Hopper was adjudged to have been in touch when he crashed over in the corner.
The visiting side did not dwell on that wasted chance for too long though and soon made amends through the bulldozing Nick Easter, who muscled his way through a big gap on 30 minutes to give Harlequins a 17-0 lead , though a Benjamin Dambielle penalty opened the home side's account just before the break.
The second-half was much of the same for Quins and Charlie Walker scored a brilliant try just four minutes after the restart, capitilising on a loose ball and screaming down the wing to touch down in the corner. Just before the hour mark Bernard le Roux bagged a try for the home side but even a bonus point seemed a big ask, and with just eight minutes left to play Karl Dickson put the game beyond Racing and, crucially, secured the bonus point with a fourth try.
Ulster strengthened their position at the top of Pool 5 as they thrashed fellow RaboDirect Pro12 side Treviso 48-0 at Ravenhill.
Paddy Jackson crossed after just four minutes to set the tone for the encounter, and Ulster were in complete control midway through the half when Luke Marshall doubled their lead. Gloucester-bound John Afoa grabbed Ulster's third before half-time but the home side had to wait until the hour-mark to secure the winning bonus point in the face of some resolute defending.
The try eventually came on 58 minutes thanks to Dan Tuohy and the floodgates opened after that, with Sean Doyle, Andrew Trimble and Marshall all going over to secure the most comprehensive of wins which takes them seven points clear at the top of their pool.
Saracens did what was expected of them as they comfortably navigated past Zebre with a 39-10 victory to keep themselves in contention for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
The Aviva Premiership league-leaders will expect nothing less than back-to-back victories against the Italian side and are well on their way to achieving that after running in five tries in Italy. After an early Charlie Hodgson penalty George Kruis grabbed Saracens' first of the afternoon on 13 minutes, and further efforts from Ernst Joubert and Chris Wyles put them 25-0 ahead at half-time.
Despite an early Gonzalo Garcia penalty it was more of the same in the second half, and Chris Ashton bagged the first of two tries on the hour mark after a neat pass inside from Marcelo Bosch. He added a second soon after when he finished off a flowing back move, started by a bit of individual brilliance from Alex Goode.
Saracens lost Duncan Taylor to the sin-bin on 73 minutes and Zebre made full advantage of the numerical advantage as Samuela Vunisa raced away to score shortly afterwards. But it was far too little too late and Saracens ran out comfortable winners ahead of next weekend's return fixture.
Saracens' Chris Wyles charges forward against Zebre © Getty Images
A quick flurry of second-half tries put paid to Scarlets' hopes of causing an upset at Clermont Auvergne as they were beaten 25-11 by the Top 14 outfit.
Three tries in 12 minutes were too much for Scarlets as Clermont lept above the Welsh region in Pool 4. It was a tight affair in the first half as Brock James and Rhys Priestland exchanged kicks, with Clermont leading just 6-3 at the break.
Everything soon changed after the break, with the catalyst for Clermont's scoring spree coming from Jamie Cudmore's 46th-minute try. Napolioni Nalaga crossed himself six minutes later and the Fijian had things wrapped up on the hour mark as he grabbed another as Clermont suddenly found themselves 25-6 to the good.
Scarlets kept on fighting and were rewarded for their efforts two minutes from time as Rhodri Williams went over but it was not even enough for a bonus point, something Clermont secured with the clock in the red as Clement Ric scored his side's fourth.
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