Rugby

Welsh teams keep hopes alive

2013-12-14 09:16
Heineken Cup (File)

Paris - Cardiff kept their hopes of reaching the Heineken Cup quarter-finals alive with a 9-7 win at Glasgow on Friday.

The victory, temporarily at least, sent Cardiff to the top of Pool 2 ahead of reigning champions Toulon, who host Exeter on Saturday and could retake the lead if they win.

The defeat all but mathematically ended Glasgow's involvement in the competition as they sit eight points behind Cardiff with two games left.

But it could have been so different had replacement flyhalf Duncan Weir not sliced a penalty wide in the final minute.

Rhys Patchell scored a stunning penalty from inside his own half and Toulon target Leigh Halfpenny scored two more as Cardiff made it three wins from four games in the competition.

The Welsh region's qualification hopes could rest on their trip to the south of France in early January.

No 8 and man of the match Robin Copeland was delighted with the result.

"It was a dogfight," said the Irish forward, who will join Munster next season.

"We had a plan going in and one was to get a result and put us in a great position to go through the group to the next round.

"We had a great attitude, we fought and fought, the whole pack was outstanding."

Patchell stunned the crowd with a monster penalty to open the scoring from more than 60 yards out on six minutes.

With the ball not just inside the Cardiff half but even beyond the 10-metre line, Patchell stepped up and thumped it through the sticks.

Halfpenny took over kicking duties and added a score on 22 minutes before hitting his second 15 minutes from the end.

Cardiff prop Sam Hobbs was yellow-carded 10 minutes before the break and Glasgow looked to capitalise on the extra-man advantage.

But when Fiji scrumhalf Nikola Matawalu scythed over from the back of a close-range ruck, the score was referred to the video referee, who ruled it out for a block by a Cardiff player on a potential tackler.

The Scots did get over the tryline when prop Ryan Grant isolated Halfpenny one-on-one a few metres from the line and barged straight through the British and Irish Lions fullback, with Weir kicking the extras.

But it was too little, too late and even a losing bonus point did little to save Glasgow's hopes.

Ospreys kept their faint mathematical qualification hopes alive with a 21-12 win over French champions Castres.

With Leinster topping Pool 1 with three wins out of three and hosting Northampton on Saturday, Ospreys have next to no chance of actually making the last eight but this victory was a boost nonetheless, although it may cost Castres their chances of reaching the quarters.

The first half was a kicking contest between Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar and South African scrumhalf Rory Kockott that ended even at the break with four penalties each.

Ospreys would have been frustrated, though, that they failed to take advantage of Castres flyhalf Remi Tales's sin-binning after 26 minutes as in the extra-man period they failed to outscore the visitors.

But in the second period Biggar outshot Kockott three penalties to nil to make the difference.

Ospreys would still need a minor miracle to qualify while Castres, with two defeats and no bonus points, would need a remarkable turnaround and two bonus point victories to have any realistic chance of going through.

Heineken Cup results on Friday

Pool 1

Ospreys 21 Castres 12

Pool 2

Glasgow 7 Cardiff Blues 9

Saturday (all kick-off times SA):

Pool 1

Leinster v Northampton (20:00)

Pool 2

Toulon v Exeter (15:35)

Pool 3

Saracens v Zebre (17:00)

Connacht v Toulouse (20:00)

Pool 4

Scarlets v Clermont (17:40)

Pool 5

Treviso v Ulster (15:35)

Pool 6

Perpignan v Munster (17:40)

Sunday

Pool 4

Harlequins v Racing-Metro (14:45)

Pool 5

Montpellier v Leicester (17:00)

Pool 6

Gloucester v Edinburgh (17:00)

Read more on:    heineken cup  |  rugby
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