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Cardiff stunned by Sale, Edinburgh march on despite frozen pitch

By Alex Fisher
Will Cliff celebrates for Sale Sharks

Cardiff Blues’ impressive start in the European Challenge Cup came to a juddering halt on Saturday as they were thrashed 24-0 by Sale Sharks.

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The Pro14 side had won both of their matches in Group 2, but were blunted by Sale at the AJ Bell Stadium, the hosts grateful to the boot of AJ MacGinty.

MacGinty kicked three penalties in the opening 40 minutes and added a fourth just after the restart.

He was again accurate from the tee to convert Will Cliff’s 59th-minute try, but missed when Marc Jones crossed in the closing minutes as Sale claimed their first triumph of the group.

Newcastle Falcons are three wins from three in Group 1 after running in eight tries over Bordeaux Begles, Adam Radwan scoring twice in a comprehensive 52-24 win.

 

Group 3 strugglers Zebre were given a glimmer of hope against Gloucester when they went into half-time 19-14 ahead, but the Italians were unable to complete the victory.

Gloucester came roaring back after the break, though, with tries from Ollie Thorley, Owen Williams and Richard Hibbard wrapping up a 33-26 success.

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Edinburgh sit eight points clear at the top of Group 4 after thrashing hapless London Irish 50-20 at Murrayfield – the game having been moved from Myreside due to a frozen pitch.

Irish sit bottom of the Premiership after 10 games and this heavy defeat will do their morale no good, Edinburgh earning their bonus point before half-time.

The hosts ran in eight tries across the 80 minutes, Phil Burleigh grabbing himself two as Edinburgh strengthened their quest for a place in the knockout stages.

Like Edinburgh, Connacht have three wins from three in the fifth pool, but they needed a storming second half against Brive to get there.

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Tries from Mike Tadjer, Florian Cazenave and Julien Brugnaut plus two Gaetan Germain conversions had given Brive a 19-17 half-time lead, but Connacht were irresistible after the restart.

Jack Carty scored 16 of their 21 second-half points as the Irish province moved three points clear at the halfway stage.

Worcester Warriors are hot on Connacht’s heels after their second win of the group, Carl Hogg’s side turning on the style in the second 40 to beat Oyonnax 35-14 at Sixways Stadium.

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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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