Munster beat Perpignan at the death
December 14, 2013
Paul O'Connell and Munster won in dramatic style in Perpignan © Getty Images
An injury-time try from JJ Hanrahan saw Munster beat Perpignan 18-17 with the final play of the game at the Stade Aime Giral.
A 77th minute effort from Tommaso Benvenuti saw the home side take the lead but Munster had the final say as Hanrahan darted down the right wing and after referee JP Doyle checked the effort with the TMO, to the joy of the Munster players and support, the score was given.
The first-half was a battle of the boot as Tommy Allan's three penalties gave Perpignan a 9-3 lead as Ian Keatley endured a 40 minutes to forget from the tee as he kicked one from three. There was little for the supporters in the stand to cheer as try-scoring opportunities were at a premium but they were riled when a brawl broke out in the 13th minute of the match, the result of which saw Peter O'Mahony and Romain Terrain sin-binned.
The second-half saw Munster start the better of the two teams and their pressure and composure eventually paid dividends when they forced a penalty try in the 48th minute following repeated scrums on Perpignan's try line. Allan and Keatley exchanged penalties to leave the game on a knife edge as the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes. A frantic final few minutes ensued as Benvenuti's try looked to have given Perpignan the win but Hanrahan had the final say.
Scarlets were unable to capitalise on a half-time lead as they slipped to a 31-13 defeat to Clermont in Llanelli, putting their Heineken Cup hopes in serious doubt.
Clermont wasted no time stamping their authority on the game as they crossed the whitewash after just 14 seconds through wing Napolioni Nalaga. After conceding so early there was a chance of the wheels falling off for Scarlets but they responded admirably and the next three scores were theirs, with Rhys Priestland penalties coming either side of a wonderful 31st-minute Gareth Maule try - which saw excellent breaks from both Scott and Liam Williams in the build-up.
Mike Delany's penalty for Clermont brought the score back to 13-10 at half-time and it was clear the next team to cross the whitewash could well put themselves in control. It took 20 minutes for Clermont to grab that score, when they were finally awarded a penalty try after Scarlets' stubborn resistance on the line finally buckled - and Brock James' conversion put them 17-13 in front.
And that try did prove crucial as Clermont crossed again on 66 minutes through Fritz Lee, before Nalaga popped up seven minutes from time to wrap up the win and give the visiting side a valuable bonus point.
Mike Delany advances for Clermont © Getty Images
Toulouse ensured lightning did not strike twice as they recorded a straight-forward 37-9 win over Connacht.
Connacht's hopes of repeating last weekend's astonishing upset in Toulouse took a blow before kick-off, with a flu outbreak seeing Frank Murphy and Paul O'Donohue dropped from the bench. Dan Parks and Lionel Beauxis exchanged penalties in an equal opening passage of play but Toulouse looked like they had a point to prove.
And this was evident on 11 minutes as Maxime Medard latched on to a kick ahead from Beauxis, who then converted the effort. Parks immediately reduced the gap to four points with a drop goal but it was clear Toulouse had come to Ireland with a point to prove and on 26 minutes Medard had scored again, displaying excellent footballing skills on the wing and touching down in the corner to put the visitors in control.
After another Parks drop goal Toulouse prop Christopher Tolofua went over from close range as Toulouse went in 22-9 up at half-time. Toulouse did not take their foot off the pedal in the second half as tries from Louis Picamoles and Gael Fickou secured a bonus point for the French side.
Saracens ran in nine tries as they thrashed Zebre 64-3 in Barnet to strengthen their ambitions of a place in the last eight.
The home side were in no mood to mess around in Barnet and had the bonus point secured before the half-hour mark, as David Strettle, Jacques Burger, Jamie George and Richard Wigglesworth went over in a clinical opening spell of play. Zebre didn't trouble the scoreboard until Sarries had secured the maximum points haul, with a Luciano Orquera penalty their only meaningful contribution to the half and the game.
In the second period it was back to business as usual for Saracens, with full-back Ben Ransom and centre Duncan Taylor getting in on the act with a try apiece. And on the hour a Farrell conversion took them past the 50-point mark after Taylor had scampered free to dot down for his second try in ten minutes.
Sarries were not content with seven tries and with 12 minutes remaining England's Billy Vunipola bulldozed over from close range, before Chris Ashton added their ninth of the afternoon at the death.
Duncan Taylor was one of the try scorers for Saracens © Getty Images
Ulster overcame difficult conditions to record a comprehensive 35-3 bonus-point win over Treviso to make them favourites to emerge top of Pool 5.
The heavy mist at Stadio Comunale di Monigo made play a challenge for both teams and in the opening half hour the scoring was limited to just a penalty each for Paddy Jackson and Alberto di Bernardo. The crucial score for Ulster after a break and kick ahead from Jared Payne allowed Luke Marshall to go over in the corner on 37 minutes.
Jackson then scored penalties either side of half-time to widen the margin further. Treviso's hopes of getting back into the game at 14-3 down took a further blow on 57 minutes when they lost full-back Brendan Williams to the sin-bin.
It proved to be a decisive moment in the game as Craig Gilroy went over just after the hour-mark as Treviso struggled to cope with their numerical disadvantage, with Jackson converting despite the continuing thick fog, and in the closing moments Robbie Diack and Payne crossed again to secure the bonus point which could be vital for Ulster's ambitions.
An action shot of Ulster's win in horrible conditions in Treviso © Ulster Rugby
Toulon retook top spot in Pool 2 as they secured the bonus point victory over Exeter Chiefs at the Stade Felix Mayol on Saturday.
Two tries from David Smith and one each from Xavier Chiocci and Jonny Wilkinson gave Toulon the key win. Exeter battled valiantly with Don Armand and Ben White scoring but in the end, Toulon's precision was the difference between the two sides. Full match report here.
Northampton Saints capped an incredible tunraround as they defeated Leinster 18-9 in a thrilling contest in Dublin.
George North and Jamie Elliot scored tries either side of a pulsating encounter as Northampton put last weekend's 40-7 thrashing at the hands of the Pro12 champions behind them in fine style and kept their European ambitions well and truly alive. Read the full report here.
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