Amlin Challenge Cup round-up
Worcester earn rare win
January 19, 2014
Tom Biggs scores Bath's opening try in their 54-13 win over Bordeaux-Begles © Getty Images
Worcester Warriors secured just their second win of the season as they rounded off their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign with a 20-13 victory over Oyonnax.
The Warriors have had a season to forget so far and, though they trailed at half-time, eventually overcame the Top 14 outfit despite a nervy finish at the death. An early Jonathan Bousquet penalty and Salim Tebani penalty gave Oyonnax an early 8-0 lead, but Worcester soon brought the game back to within one point with a converted penalty try.
Despite trailing 8-7 at half-time Worcester stayed patient and edged back in front with two Ignacio Mieres penalties just after the hour mark, before 20-year-old centre Max Stelling dotted down with ten minutes to go. That should have been the end of the threat but Oyonnax immediately responded, crossing the whitewash through Bousquet, though Worcester held on in the final minutes for the victory.
Rob Miller kicked a late penalty to rubberstamp Sale's place in the quarter-finals with a 9-7 win at Biarritz.
The Sharks trailed 7-6 in the closing stages but looked to have done enough to clinch top spot in Pool One as they clung to a losing bonus point in France. However, full-back Miller held his nerve to kick a third penalty two minutes from time to win the match and claim a home tie in the knockout stage as third seeds in the last eight.
Elsewhere, London Irish ran in seven tries as they eased to a 49-0 victory against Cavalieri Prato to end their own campaign on a high despite missing out on qualification.
Bath secured top seeding for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a comfortable bonus-point win in Pool 2 at home to Bordeaux-Begles.
George Ford celebrated his senior England call-up with another assured display with 17 points that included an impressive solo try. Semesa Rokoduguni also grabbed a brace while Tom Biggs, Anthony Perenise, Jonathan Joseph, Dominic Day, and Kyle Eastmond also crossed in a 54-13 success to guarantee a quarter-final tie at the Recreation Ground.
Bath enjoyed a dream start when Biggs claimed the first of his team's eight tries after Anthony Watson's stunning 60-metre break with just a minute gone. Ford's conversion made it 7-0 but Bordeaux hit back with a brace of penalties from scrum-half Manu Saubusse.
It took until half an hour for Bath to claim their next score but it was well worth the wait when Ford danced through from close range after 32 minutes. Perenise then dived over out wide after Leroy Houston's long pass four minutes later, with Ford adding both sets of extras for a 21-6 lead at the break.
Joseph glided through from Ford's pass five minutes after the restart and Day powered through five minutes later when Ford's kick caused havoc at the back. Ford added both conversions and did the same again when Rokoduguni flew down the right wing for a fine individual try with 58 minutes gone before finally missing the target when Eastmond was driven over just past the hour.
Adam Powell is tackled by Florin Surugiu during Newcastle Falcons' win over Bucharest Wolves © Getty Images
Bordeaux made the most of Ryan Caldwell's yellow card with a 78th-minute try from Gilem Queheille but Rokoduguni touched down with the last play, with Matt Banahan adding the conversion.
Newport Gwent Dragons missed the chance to finish second in the pool after failing to collect a bonus point in their 24-12 win at Italian champions Rugby Mogliano.
Ross Wardle and Wayne Evans scored in the space of four minutes as Dragons were forced to overturn a 9-3 half-time deficit at Stadio Maurizio Quaggia. Steffan Jones levelled the scores, with prop Nathan Buck in the sin bin, before the two tries and five points from replacement Kris Burton, but the Dragons could not grab a bonus even though Mogliano finished the game with 13 men.
Newcastle Falcons ended their Pool 3 campaign with a 28-0 win over Bucharest Wolves at Kingston Park but it was not enough to earn them a place in the quarter-finals. Instead Brive secured top spot in the pool after beating Calvisano 31-9 in France.
The Falcons knew they needed a full house of points to keep up the pressure on Brive and Ryan Shortland gave them the perfect start with a try within two minutes of the kick-off. Rory Clegg kicked two penalties and converted a penalty try on the stroke of half-time for an 18-0 lead. Wolves lost two players to the sin bin but it was not until the 74th minute that Tom Catterick crossed for the Falcons' third try that was too little too late.
On Friday evening Stade Francais had ended London Irish's hopes of progressing after winning Pool 5 by beating Lusitanos 48-15 in Portugal.
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