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Heineken Cup lives up to expectations again

After a month of International rugby, the Heineken Cup returned to our screens this weekend and it certainly didn’t disappoint, with thrilling matches, and some surprising results, it was an excellent weekend of rugby.

Perhaps the biggest game of the weekend was this afternoon’s game between Clermont Auvergne and Leinster. The French side won 15-12 to give Leinster their first defeat in the Heineken Cup for 17 games, which included two tournament wins.

It also stretched Clermont’s unbeaten home record to 51 games, leaving them leading Pool 5 by five points ahead of the return trip to Leinster next week, in a game that will be crucial when it comes to qualification.

The rugby all began on Friday evening though, with Ulster confirming that they are once again very much in the hunt to lift this famous trophy. They won 25-6 away at Northampton Saints to put them 6 points clear in Pool 4.

The other game in the pool saw Castres condemn Glasgow Warriors to yet another defeat with a 9-6 win at Firhill. It puts Castres second in the Pool with the return of Glasgow to France still to come.

The biggest shock of the weekend also came on Friday night as Biarritz travelled to Connacht with huge expectation of a victory, particularly given that their hosts were missing 13 players through injury.

A magnificent Connacht performance followed though, and allayed by familiar away frailties from Biarritz, ending with a 22-14 for the Irish minnows.

The result puts Connacht second in Pool 3, six points behind leaders Harlequins who were in fine form as they wrapped up a bonus point 57-14 victory away at Zebre.

They were not the only English side in action against Italian opposition; Leicester faced Treviso at Welford Road, winning 33-25 in an entertaining game to stay within touching distance of Pool 2 leaders Toulouse.

The French Heineken Cup greats were in action against the Ospreys, winning 30-14, adding to a few weeks of misery for Welsh rugby which included not a single victory for the Welsh regions in this weekends round of Heineken Cup fixtures.

While the Ospreys were losing to Toulouse, the Scarlets were also being defeated 22-16 by Exeter Chiefs, the Chiefs first ever Heinken Cup victory, while this afternoon the Cardiff Blues were surprisingly defeated 35-24 by Montpellier to leave them bottom of Pool 6 and without a hope of qualifying.

Toulon gave themselves a five point cushion in that Pool with a 17-6 away win at Sale, leaving the English side also without any real prospect of qualification.

It was bad news for Saracens too as they went down 15-9 to Munster at Thomond Park, leaving the Munstermen level on points with them at the top of Pool 1 ahead of the return fixture. That losing bonus point could prove crucial for Saracens hopes though as the group progresses.

The other game in Pool 1 condemned Edinburgh to more misery as they lost 19-9 away to Racing Metro. The French side performed well on a weekend that you would have to say was an excellent one for France, with only Biarritz failing to win.

Results:

Friday

Northampton 6-25 Ulster

Glasgow Warriors 6-9 Castres

Connacht 22-14 Biarritz

Saturday

Toulouse 30-14 Ospreys

Scarlets 16-22 Exeter Chiefs

Zebre 14-57 Harlequins

Sale 6-17 Toulon

Munster 15-9 Saracens

Racing Metro 19-9 Edinburgh

Sunday

Cardiff Blues 24-35 Montpellier

Leicester 33-25 Treviso

Clermont Auvergne 15-12 Leinster

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