A couple of key moments. One was Owen Farrell’s escapology act in somehow flicking the ball out one handed on his own line with half of Cardiff upon him. The other was the Blues losing possession at the lineout after kicking to the corner off the sin bin.
It’s been an exciting night in the European Champions Cup on Friday as Exeter travelled to Gloucester, while Ulster hosted Scarlets.
Below you can read back about the best of the action.
Gloucester 17-29 Exeter Chiefs
Exeter turned the tables on Gloucester and breathed life into their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a 29-17 victory at Kingsholm.
Gloucester would have gone top of Pool Two had they repeated last Saturday’s win against the Chiefs in Devon, but it proved a frustrating night for them.
Fly-half Danny Cipriani went off injured just before half-time, and Exeter’s forwards dominated the contest, with lock Sam Skinner, flanker Don Armand, hooker Jack Yeandle and prop Harry Williams scoring tries in a bonus point success.
Cipriani’s opposite number Gareth Steenson kicked three conversions and a penalty as Gloucester managed two Jason Woodward touchdowns and a Tom Hudson try, plus a Billy Twelvetrees conversion.
But they also left Munster in pole position for a quarter-final place if they beat French champions Castres on Saturday.
Gloucester and Exeter are not out of the running, yet Munster – they visit Kingsholm next month and have Exeter at home – remain strong group favourites.
It was Exeter’s first European win of the season, and said everything about their squad depth as a number of frontline players were absent.
Gloucester showed a number of changes following their victory at Sandy Park six days ago, including South Africa international lock Franco Mostert being handed a first start for the club, while Exeter made wholesale switches.
Fresh additions to the Chiefs’ injury list included wing Alex Cuthbert, centre Henry Slade, scrum-half Nic White and flanker Matt Kvesic, but international props Alec Hepburn and Tomas Francis both returned to starting duty.
Mostert was heavily involved in the early exchanges, running and carrying strongly, while also competing fiercely at the breakdown, but Exeter monopolised possession and looked to stretch Gloucester wide.
The Chiefs even sacrificed a penalty shot in front of the posts, going for an attacking lineout instead, and their endeavour was rewarded with a 21st-minute try.
Gloucester had been in constant defence mode, rarely breaking out of their own half, and Exeter prospered after booting another penalty to touch, with their forwards driving a lineout and Skinner touching down.
Steenson converted from the touchline for a 7-0 lead, and Gloucester then blew their most promising spell of the game when Mostert charged recklessly into a ruck and was penalised by referee Mathieu Raynal.
They then breached Exeter’s defence 11 minutes before half-time, driving hard through phase-play, then drawing in Chiefs tacklers and allowing Woodward to cross unopposed.
Cipriani sent the conversion attempt wide, and he departed just five minutes later, leaving the action after appearing to suffer a problem with his right shoulder.
Cipriani had barely reached the Gloucester bench before Exeter struck again through more impressive work by their forwards, and Armand claimed a try that Steenson converted for a deserved 14-5 interval advantage.
Gloucester needed a strong start to the second period, but they had the opposite, with Twelvetrees being sin-binned for a technical offence as Exeter looked to make their temporary one-man advantage count.
But Gloucester managed not to concede any points while Twelvetrees was off, although they continued to be a distant second best in terms of territory and possession.
A Steenson penalty put Exeter 12 points clear, only for Woodward to claim his second try with 15 minutes left and lift Gloucester to within striking range.
But Exeter closed out the game with skipper Yeandle’s try – they were also helped by a yellow card for Gloucester prop Josh Hohneck – and Williams’ touchdown secured a five-point maximum after Hudson crossed for Gloucester.
Ulster 30-15 Scarlets
Ulster boosted their hopes of European Champions Cup qualification with a bonus-point 30-15 win over the Scarlets to bring them a maximum 10 points from their back-to-back clashes with the Welsh side.
John Cooney scored 15 points of Ulster’s total with the bonus-point try, two conversions and two penalties, while second row Iain Henderson bagged two tries with Jacob Stockdale also crossing.
The five points Ulster claimed the same from last week’s meeting at Parc y Scarlets – brought Ulster level on points with Pool Four leaders Racing 92 ahead of their game with Leicester Tigers and ended bottom side Scarlets’ already slim chances of making the last eight.
Ulster led 10-3 at half-time and though the Scarlets, through a Jonathan Davies try, levelled things up, Dan McFarland’s side pushed on with Stockdale, Henderson – bagging his second – and Cooney crossing.
On a miserable evening of swirling wind and rain at the Kingspan, Ulster got the scoreboard moving early when Scarlets skipper Ken Owens was penalised for not rolling away and Cooney landed his first penalty after eight minutes.
Will Addison then crossed the Scarlets line on 13 minutes following a cross-kick from Billy Burns and assist from Henry Speight only for the score to be ruled out for a forward pass.
Speight then went close to scoring himself on 24 minutes but he failed to gather the ball from Addison’s kick through. Ulster had a penalty, though, and put huge pressure on the Scarlets which resulted in prop Wyn Jones being yellow-carded for illegally playing the ball.
Ulster increased the pressure, going for scrums off a series of penalties before Henderson was driven over at the posts on 32 minutes. Cooney converted to put the home side 10-0 up.
Rhys Patchell’s 38th-minute penalty gave the visitors their first points just before Jones’ return from the bin and the half ended with Ulster leading 10-3 with the conditions having seemingly favoured them in the first half.
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Eight minutes after the restart, the game exploded into life when Gareth Davies intercepted a pass on his own line and after running into Ulster’s half his cross-kick was pounced on by Jonathan Davies after Speight and Steff Evans had overrun the ball.
Patchell converted to tie the scores and the visitors were right back in the game.
But Ulster responded immediately when Burns’ chip over the top was latched onto by Stockdale who beat two defenders to touch down.
Cooney missed the difficult conversion and Ulster now led 15-10 which became 18-10 when he kicked a 57th-minute penalty.
Five minutes later and Henderson had his second when he powered over from close range after good work by Stuart McCloskey. Cooney’s conversion took Ulster’s lead to 25-10.
The bonus-point score came in the 67th minute when Rory Best – who became Ulster’s most capped player in Europe by making his 72nd appearance – drove off a maul to the line before Cooney followed up to score though he failed with the difficult conversion.
Scarlets managed a consolation score from Tom Pyride in the 78th minute which went unconverted.
It’s been an eventful day in the European Champions Cup. Here is the best of Sunday’s action.
Newcastle 23-20 Montpellier
Newcastle snatched a dramatic 23-20 victory over star-studded Montpellier to go top of their pool in the Champions Cup.
With England head coach Eddie Jones in the stand, Newcastle led 16-6 at half-time and after last weekend’s heroics against Toulouse, the Falcons looked to be heading for another win against a side boasting a dozen internationals led by France number eight Louis Picamoles.
But Ruan Pienaar kicked two crucial penalties and lock Paul Willemse rumbled over for a try to give the visitors a 20-16 lead. But with the clock showing full time, the Falcons mounted one last attack following a penalty to the corner and after a staggering 39 phases, lock Callum Chick was driven over and Joel Hodgson converted for a last-gasp victory which takes Newcastle top of pool five.
Toulouse 28-27 Leinster
Leinster’s impressive unbeaten run in the Heineken Champions Cup shuddered to a dramatic halt as the reigning champions fell to a 28-27 defeat at Pool 1 rivals Toulouse.
After last weekend’s bonus-point victory over Wasps, Leinster – who won all their games on their march to the title last season – started the match at Stade Ernest Wallon as favourites against their fellow four-time European champions.
But an end-to-end game turned on a raking length-of-the-field interception try in the dying minutes.
Replacement Louis-Benoit Madaule picked up a loose pass and released Toulouse’s flying backs division. Moments later, Maxime Medard scored his second try of the afternoon to wrest back a lead the hosts had held until midway through the second half.
Cardiff Blues 12-29 Glasgow
Glasgow opened their Heineken Champions Cup account with a 29-12 bonus point victory over Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.
But the real beneficiaries were Pool Three leaders Saracens, who are four points clear of their rivals heading into December home and away fixtures against the Blues.
Glasgow, beaten at home by Saracens last weekend, did not look back after fly-half Adam Hastings and wing DTH van der Merwe scored tries in the first five minutes.
Hastings also added a conversion and penalty before half-time, and when scrum-half Ali Price rounded off a crisp move early in the second period, the only serious debate was whether or not Glasgow would claim a five-point maximum.
Glasgow got there when lock Jonny Gray added a fourth try 12 minutes from time – again converted by Hastings – and there was no doubting their supremacy over a Blues side that fell way short of repeating last Sunday’s performance when they beat Lyon in France.
Wing Aled Summerhill claimed two consolation tries for the Blues, with Gareth Anscombe adding a conversion, but they were also chasing a game that, in truth, was beyond reach following Glasgow’s early onslaught.
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