Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Defending champions edge past Bourgoin

AFP , PARIS

Christophe Dominici of Stade Francais, left, is tackled by James Hook during a European Rugby Union Cup match between Ospreys and Stade Francais at Ospreys' Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Munster fly-half Ronan O'Gara was confident his side would bounce back to better things after being pushed all the way before finally overcoming struggling French club Bourgoin in the European Cup.

The defending champions won the hard-fought game 30-27 but not before enduring a nerve-jangling final 10 minutes.

However, O'Gara insisted he felt they were never going to lose.

"It was looking hairy for a while but I felt we did enough to deserve the win," O'Gara said of the game in which Bourgoin took the lead three times and fought back brilliantly to draw level at 20-20.

"It was a tough finish but I didn't think we were going to lose the game at any stage," O'Gara said. "We should have got a score near the end, when `Axel' [Anthony Foley] drove up close to the line, and that was frustrating. The bonus point was really there for the taking."

Bourgoin capitalized on Munster mistakes in the first-half for tries for number eight Julien Bonnaire and center Guillaume Bousses.

Munster hit back with tries through prop Marcus Horan and center Lifeimi Mafi, allied with a 15-point haul from O'Gara's boot, the decisive factor.

Now just three points ahead of former champions Leicester at the top of the pool, Munster need to beat the Tigers at Thomond Park on Saturday to secure a home quarter-final berth.

Stade Francais also took a step closer to joining Munster, Leinster, Llanelli and Biarritz in the last eight after drawing a real humdinger of a match 22-22 against Ospreys in Swansea.

The Parisian high-rollers face winless Italian side Calvisano in their final Pool Three match while the Ospreys, a point behind the French, can only hope for a win with a bonus point against Sale.

"We're very happy to have come away with a result at the Ospreys," said Stade assistant coach Fabrice Landreau.

Replacement fly-half Beauxis kicked the match-drawing 50m penalty five minutes into injury time after Ryan Jones had infringed at a ruck.

"It was me who gave away the penalty. I didn't think he [Beauxis] would make it from that range, but he did, and I had to say sorry in the dressing room afterwards," Jones said.

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