European Challenge Cup round-up: Brive and Bayonne battle for French pride
20 October 2008
French misery continued in the European Challenge Cup with only two out of seven sides victorious on the second weekend – mirroring the success rate of the opening round- and one of those was from an all Top14 clash between Mont-de-Marsan and Bayonne.
Bayonne won that one 26-8, but there were heavy defeats for Montpellier and Toulon (again), with only Brive securing a win against foreign opposition with their 36-22 victory over Newcastle Falcons.
Brive’s ex-Tigers fly-half Andy Goode racked up 21 points as Les Correziens got their show back on track in Pool 4 (see report), but Montpellier saw red as they were thrashed 51-7 by Northampton Saints in Pool 2.
Captain Julien Tomas and Fabien Rofes were both sent off as the English side, which dispatched Toulon 56-3 last week, ran in six tries as they breached half a century of points again.
Montpellier rested a number of first team regulars and paid the price at Franklin Gardens with the Guinness Premiership side opening the scoring when Scott Gray went over inside the first minute.
Gancalo Uva got a try back for the visitors but Steven Myler’s boot and a Joe Ansbro try extended the lead to 20-7 before Tomas was sent-off for punching on the half hour.
The home side’s dominance resulted in a penalty try before the interval and there were further scores for Chris Ashton and Soane Tonga’uiha before Montpellier hooker Rofes was sent-off for stamping.
His replacement Joan Caudullo followed with a yellow as the French side ended with just 12 men on the pitch, allowing Paul Diggin to stroll over for try number six as the rout was completed.
The other match in Pool 2 saw Toulon humbled again, this time losing 39-11 in Bristol as Tana Umaga’s side continued their European travails.
The fact that it was Bristol’s first win of any sort in 14 matches will hardly ease the Toulon pain, as the pressure continues to mount on Umaga.
After admitting to being surprised by Northampton’s ferocity last week he fielded a considerably stronger team on Saturday, but not even the presence of Jerry Collins as captain could not prevent another defeat.
Bayonne’s away win at Mont-de-Marsan in Pool 5 featured second-half tries from Nicolas Laffite and Craig Gower, with Manny Edmonds adding three penalties.
Les Montois, bottom of the table in Top 14, only had a Frederic Urruty penalty to show for their efforts until Simon Ternisien’s last-minute try.
Elsewhere, a last-minute try by Warren Spragg condemned Bourgoin to 28-29 home defeat by Petrarca Padova in Pool 3, and Dax went down 24-11 away to Rugby Rovigo in Pool 1.