Mon, Oct 22, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Clermont top group after win

FIRST BLOOD:Defending champions Leinster had a tough game, while rivals Clermont picked up their second bonus-point victory with a 46-12 win at Exeter

AFP, PARIS

Naplioni Naglaga of Clermont Auvergne, left, fends off a tackle by Exeter Chiefs’ Tom Hayes to score a try in their European Cup match in Exeter on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Defending champions Leinster made it two from two with a victory over Scarlets in European Cup action on Saturday, as four-time title-winners Toulouse survived a scare at Italian outsiders Treviso.

Leinster, seeking an unprecedented third consecutive Cup triumph, backed up their narrow 9-6 victory over Exeter last week with a hard-fought 20-13 win over the Welsh region, 49-16 losers at Clermont in their opening match.

Toulouse went into the break of their Pool 2 match 18-9 down and then fell 21-12 behind before a late three-converted try revival saw them emerge 33-21 winners over Treviso, with neither side claiming a bonus point.

In west Wales, Jonathan Sexton got Leinster off to a perfect start, nailing a penalty after a ruck infringement straight from the kick-off.

The Irish province’s sole try came from Fijian winger Isa Nacewa, who latched on to a precision-perfect kick from Sexton, riding George North’s tackle to touch down.

Sexton pushed the conversion wide, as did Priestland with his first penalty attempt after 15 minutes.

However, the Ireland flyhalf made no mistake with his second penalty to hand Leinster a 11-0 lead after the first 40 minutes.

Priestland fluffed another penalty effort early in the second half as Sexton bagged another three points with a monster drop-goal.

The Wales No. 10 finally got the Llanelli-based team’s first points on the board in the 48th minute with a penalty.

Center Gareth Maule then dragged Scarlets back into the game, beating vaunted Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll with a step on the outside to cross in the corner, Priestland claiming the extras.

Sexton and Priestland each notched up a further penalty each, but the Irishmen held firm with a series of strength-sapping scrums that saw a flagging home side suffer.

In Italy, Australian-born Treviso flyhalf Kristopher Burton hit four penalties in the first 15 minutes to build up a 12-3 lead over Toulouse, before trading penalties with opposite number Luke McAlister, the former All Black.

Toulouse’s teenage hooker Christopher Tolofua was sin-binned and Treviso went into the break 18-9 up.

With more penalty-trading early in the second half, Toulouse upped the ante and a penalty try and a five-pointer from marauding No. 8 Louis Picamoles, both converted by McAlister, saw the French club suddenly move 26-21 ahead.

Veteran winger Vincent Clerc then claimed Toulouse’s third try of the afternoon, which ended with Tolofua seeing red with five minutes to play after the referee adjudged him to have used a spear tackle in clearing out a ruck.

Clermont picked up their second bonus-point victory with a 46-12 win at Exeter to top Pool 5 ahead of Leinster, having trailed 12-10 at the break.

The French scored six tries, five of them coming in a devastating second-half performance.

Napolini Nalaga and Wesley Fofana grabbed a brace apiece, with Julien Bonnaire and Sitiveni Sivivatu also scoring.

Saracens, who beat Edinburgh 45-0 last week, made it two wins out of two in Pool 1 with a 30-13 win over Racing Metro in a match played at Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium.

The English side scored three tries through Chris Wyles, Steve Borthwick and Will Fraser, with fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicking 15 points.

In Pool 3, Harlequins lead the way after a 30-22 win at Connacht, which gave them a four-point advantage over Biarritz, who saw off Zebre 38-17.

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