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Sunday, January 22, 2006


Other Unions / Teams: Rugby round-up: Flying Falcons up to the Challenge

English club round-up.

Adam McNicol

Sunday Times

NEWCASTLE secured a top-two seeding for the knockout stage of the Challenge Cup after a 24-17 win over Brive in France. The Falcons finished top of Pool Four and get a home quarter-final when the competition resumes in April. If they win that, their semi-final will also be played at Kingston Park.

Australian full-back Matt Burke slotted four first-half penalty goals to give Newcastle a 12-10 lead at the break. With 20 minutes remaining, a try by wing James Hoyle extended the advantage, before prop Micky Ward scored the game-sealer, which meant the northerners ended their pool matches unbeaten.

LONDON IRISH topped Pool Two and ensured they would play at home in the next round with a thumping 75-12 win over Pau at the Madejski stadium. Wing Topsy Ojo scored a quickfire hat-trick, as the home side wrapped up the bonus point inside half an hour. Captain Mike Catt, back in the team after recovering from injury, was also among the scorers as the Exiles, having piled on eight tries, went to half-time leading 56-0.

Delon Armitage crossed for his second try late in the match, while outside-half Riki Flutey finished with eight conversions as the Irish romped into the quarter-finals.

On Friday night, Worcester also won a berth in the last eight and clinched top spot in Pool Five with a 31-21 away win over Montpellier. Tongan flanker Johnny Tuamoheloa returned from the sin-bin to score a crucial try as Worcester overturned an eight-point half-time deficit.

NORTHAMPTON will almost certainly gain a home quarter-final after their match against Viadana in Italy was abandoned when the home side forfeited because their pitch was unplayable.

The match was scheduled for Friday night but was initially called off due to fog, before a pitch inspection yesterday morning ruled the ground unsafe.

Northampton are expected to be awarded all five points, with a decision likely today. Bristol have a chance to become the sixth English club to qualify for the quarter-finals when they host Narbonne in the final Pool One match today.

ANDREW MAXWELL scored three tries as Ulster finished their Heineken Cup campaign with a 43-26 win over Treviso in Italy. Maxwell crossed for the first time in the fourth minute and his two further tries extended Ulster's lead to 21-0 shortly before the interval. Yet hooker Alvaro Tejeda hit back with two Treviso tries prior to half-time, cutting Ulster's lead to seven points.

The teams traded blows in the second half, a brace of tries by Ireland centre Andrew Trimble securing Ulster a well-earned victory.

THE row over ERC’s decision to award Leeds five points following their refusal to play on Calvisano’s frozen pitch last weekend has overshadowed the build-up to today’s crucial Heineken Cup Pool Two clash between the Tykes and Cardiff at Headingley. “It sets a dangerous precedent if people don’t like the look of the pitch,” said Blues coach Dai Young. Needing five points against Cardiff for a chance to reach the last eight as one of the top two runners-up, Leeds boss Phil Davies has made six changes, bringing back scrum-half Justin Marshall, lock Stuart Hooper and prop Mike Shelley, who makes a first start since breaking his leg three months ago.

“This is a massive game for the club, perhaps one of the biggest in the club’s history,” Davies said.
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