Aviva Premiership Rugby European wrap: Harlequins sting Wasps


It was a busy day of European action for the Aviva Premiership Rugby sides as eight of them mobilised with the group stages nearing their conclusion.

There were big wins for Exeter Chiefs, London Irish and Sale Sharks, whilst Northampton and Harlequins both caused upsets.

Here’s our rundown of the day’s European rugby.

Exeter Chiefs 41 Montpellier 10

Rob Baxter’s Exeter completed a double over French giants Montpellier to keep their European Champions Cup hopes alive, courtesy of a bonus-point win.

The home pack outmuscled their rivals all afternoon at Sandy Park and after a scoreless first quarter had the first try when Dave Ewers barged over.

Aaron Cruden kicked a 53rd-minute penalty and Nemani Nadolo grabbed a late try for the visitors, but it was Exeter’s day as Olly Woodburn notched a double to add to scores for Sam Simmonds, Nic White and Don Armand.

Harlequins 33 Wasps 28

This all-Aviva Premiership Rugby affair didn’t disappoint as Harlequins delivered a famous Champions Cup comeback that leaves Wasps on the brink of an exit from the competition.

With Harlequins’ hopes in Europe long gone, Wasps had more to play for in this game and it showed early on as Kyle Eastmond, Nizaam Carr and Ashley Johnson surged them into a 21-0 lead.

Brendan Macken secured the bonus point for Wasps after the break but from then on it was all Harlequins as Danny Care, Elia Elia and an 80th-minute James Chisholm effort consigned the visitors to defeat.

Northampton Saints 34 Clermont Auvergne 21

What a turnaround at Franklin’s Gardens! Alan Gaffney must surely be on cloud nine after his side claimed a five-try win over one of the best sides in Europe, Northampton’s second win in two weeks in all competitions.

Saints are already out of Europe and things looked ominous when Remy Grosso crossed just two minutes in, but Teimana Harrison responded ten minutes later before Isaia Toeava restored Clermont’s lead.

Nine more points followed from the boot of Morgan Parra but it was to be nowhere near enough as Nafi Tuitavake, Ben Foden, Ken Pisi and Cobus Reinach all crossed as Northampton overpowered their French adversaries.

Ospreys 15 Saracens 15

A remarkable match at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium saw Ospreys and Saracens battle their way to a draw as both sides retained hopes of qualification to the next stage of the Champions Cup.

The London side claimed the lead early on with two penalties from the boot of Owen Farrell, but the Welsh region responded in kind through Dan Biggar.

It was to end up a night for the kickers as both men shared all 30 points between them, leaving Saracens in third position in the pool, two points behind Ospreys and five behind Clermont.

Mark McCall’s men take on Northampton at Allianz Park next Saturday in the final pool fixture.

Sale Sharks 15 Lyon 13

Sale are right back in contention in Pool Two of the Challenge Cup after an intense and nervy win over French side Lyon.

Andrei Ostrikov crossed early on and Josh Beaumont touched down after the interval to help Sale’s cause, but Lionel Beauxis kept Lyon in touch with the boot and Virgile Lacombe’s late score ensured a nervy finish.

In an extremely tight pool, Sale are currently placed second, two points behind Cardiff Blues, who face off against Toulouse tomorrow.

London Irish 47 Krasny Yar 17

After five rounds London Irish are now placed third in Pool Four, two points behind Stade Francais and with all to play for in round six.

The Exiles were superb at the Madejski on Saturday as Theo Brophy-Clews remarkably ran in four tries to add to those scored by Lovejoy Chawatama, Joe Cokanasiga and Ben Loader.

Irish did actually trail 10-7 at half-time but overwhelmed the Russian side in the second 40 to keep their qualification hopes alive.

Worcester Warriors 24 Connacht 24

Worcester are well placed to qualify from Pool Five of the Challenge Cup despite being held to a draw at Sixways.

The Warriors were superlative in the first half and led at half-time thanks to a Perry Humphreys double plus scores for Sam Lewis and of course, Josh Adams.

But Connacht scored three tries of their own and with fly-half Craig Ronaldson also kicking nine points the Irish province have qualified top of the pile with a week to spare.

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