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Belleau spares Ashton's blushes, Munster move clear in Group 4

By Alex Fisher
Toulon's Anthony Belleau

Anthony Belleau spared Chris Ashton’s blushes with a late try and subsequent conversion to help Toulon come from behind to beat Bath 24-20 in the European Champions Cup.


Toulon trailed 13-7 at the break of Saturday’s Group 5 clash but were one-point ahead after Alby Mathewson crossed early in the second half.

However, Bath regained the lead just after the hour when Ashton miscued a kick from behind his own posts, the ball skewing off his foot and dropping to Jonathan Joseph – who had the easy task of touching down.

With four minutes remaining the Premiership side still led by three, but Belleau changed the outcome with a piece of individual skill to rescue a win, the replacement latching on to his own kick through to score, before adding the extras to wrap up victory.


The win maintains Toulon’s perfect record after three games, while Scarlets closed to within three points of second-placed Bath with a 33-28 win of 14-man Treviso.

Racing 92 saw victory over Castres ripped out of their grasp in the final seven minutes in Group 4, Maama Vaipulu’s try followed by a conversion and a penalty from Benjamin Urdapilleta snatching a 16-13 win.

There was nothing between the two sides in the opening 40 as Maxime Machenaud and Urdapilleta kicked two penalties apiece, but when Edwin Maka scored for Racing it looked like an away win.


Castres refused to lie down, though, to claim their first win in the competition, while Racing have lost two on the spin.


Munster lead the table after brushing aside Leicester Tigers at Thomond Park, Simon Zebo scoring one try and creating another as the Irish province recorded a 33-10 bonus-point victory.

Meanwhile, Ospreys condemned Northampton Saints to a third successive defeat in Group 2 as they clung on to a 43-32 victory despite being down to 13 men late on.

Twice Dan Evans crossed for the Welsh side as they surged into a 43-8 lead after an hour, Northampton’s woeful form looking like suffering a humiliating home defeat.


The Saints threatened a comeback with four tries in eight minutes, but wiping out the deficit proved too much – even when Ospreys saw Rob McCusker sin binned and Hanno Dirksen sent off in the last 10.


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Mzilikazi 7 hours ago
Swashbuckling Hurricanes and Harlequins show scrum still matters

I always enjoy a good scrum based article. Thanks, Nick. The Hurricanes are looking more and more the team to beat down here in Australasia. They are a very well balanced team. And though there are far fewer scrums in the game these days, destructive power in that area is a serious weapon, especially an attacking scrum within in the red zone. Aumua looked very good as a young first year player, but then seemed to fade. He sure is back now right in the picture for the AB’s. And I would judge that Taukei’aho is in a bit of a slump currently. Watching him at Suncorp a few weeks ago, I thought he was not as dominant in the game as I would have expected. I am going to raise an issue in that scrum at around the 13 min mark. I see a high level of danger there for the TH lifted off the ground. He is trapped between the opposition LH and his own powerful SR. His neck is being put under potentially dangerous pressure. The LH has, in law , no right to use his superior scrummaging skill….getting his head right in on the breastbone of the TH… force him up and off the ground. Had the TH popped out of the scrum, head up and free, there is no danger, that is a clear penalty to the dominant scrum. The law is quite clear on this issue: Law 37 Dangerous play and restricted practices in a scrum. C:Intentionally lifting an opponent off their feet or forcing them upwards out of the scrum. Sanction: Penalty. Few ,if any, referees seem to be aware of this law, and/or the dangers of the situation. Matthew Carly, refereeing Clermont v Munster in 2021, penalised the Munster scrum, when LH Wycherly was lifted very high, and in my view very dangerously, by TH Slimani. Lifting was coached in the late ‘60’s/70’s. Both Lions props, Ray McLouglin, and “Mighty Mouse” McLauchlan, were expert and highly successful at this technique. I have seen a photo, which I can’t find online atm, of MM with a NZ TH(not an AB) on his head, MM standing upright as the scrum disintegrates.

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