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Weekend Round-Up: Tigers, Tyros ... and Nip-Tuck Matches

Anglo-Welsh Cup: Leicester v Northampton
Full Game | Condensed
Leicester came into this Anglo-Welsh Cup match on a five-match losing streak, adding an extra twist or two of nervous apprehension to a derby that was always going to be a tense affair. And so it proved, though casual observers watching the first half may still be wondering why the hosts’ form in recent weeks has varied between the dismal and the awful. The Tigers – featuring the Anglo-Welsh Cup’s requisite ‘much-changed side’ from usual Premiership and European line-ups – were on the front foot for much of the first period. But Northampton were not about to let their rivals from 40 miles up the M1 motorway have it all their own way.

Top 14: Toulon v La Rochelle
Full Game | Condensed
Stade Mayol has been an unhappy hunting ground for La Rochelle for more than 40 years. The side from the Atlantic coast of France, currently riding high in the Top 14, had not tasted victory on the shores of the Mediterranean since the 1974/75 season of the old French championship. It’s fair to say Toulon are not the unstoppable force they have been – but they had been unbeaten at home in the Top 14 since Brive shocked them in September and included superstars Bryan Habana, Matt Giteau, Ma’a Nonu, Josua Tuisova and Juan Smith in their ranks. And when the hosts were awarded a penalty try with six minutes left on the clock at the end of a nip-tuck match, you would be forgiven for thinking it was all over. It definitely wasn’t.

Top 14: Castres Olympique v Montpellier
Full Game | Condensed
Don’t select the replay of this game and then go and make a cup of tea, because … 55 seconds. That’s how long it took for Castres’ tyro scrum-half Antoine Dupont to score the first try of the game. On the rare occasions a game starts as dramatically as this, the remaining 79 minutes can turn out to be a little dull. Not so this seven-try encounter at Stade Pierre Antoine, the fourth time these sides have met in all competitions this season. The two sides traded tries throughout a match that was by turns brutally direct then beautifully fluid and open.

Top 14: Bordeaux v Clermont
Full Game | Condensed
In the 66th minute of the weekend’s final match, Clermont’s replacement hooker John Ulugia burst through the Bordeaux defence, and hammered towards the line – with only scrum-half Yann Lesgourges and fullback Jean Buttin between him and a certain touchdown under the posts. What happened next defies belief, and maybe even the laws of physics. Clermont – missing six first-team regulars to Six Nations duty and Wesley Fofana through injury – had fought their way back from 14-0 down after 18 minutes to be just three points behind at the time, and were chasing the win they needed to reclaim their long-held position at the head of the Top 14 table. Like Toulon v La Rochelle, this match went to the wire – and Clermont new boy Stephen Brett, on a short-term cover contract, had the final say.

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Weekend Round-Up: Tigers, Tyros ... and Nip-Tuck Matches | RugbyPass