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European rugby round five: England player watch

13 January 2014

  • Danny Care creates superb try for beaten Harlequins
  • Anthony Allen fires Leicester Tigers
Nick Easter and Chris Robshaw

Photo: Getty Images

Round five of European competition saw a full card of fixtures in both the Amlin Challenge and Heineken Cups, with a great deal of players from Stuart Lancaster’s Senior and Saxons Elite Player Squads in action.

Newcastle Falcons started proceedings among the English clubs on Thursday night, going down 9-7 to Top 14 outfit Brive at Kingston Park despite forcing a penalty try.

Worcester Warriors travelled to Salford to face Sale Sharks the next evening. The West Midlanders were beaten 21-3 thanks to three tries – one coming from Bristol Rugby-bound scrum half Dwayne Peel – and a pair of Danny Cipriani penalties .

On Saturday, Harlequins welcomed star-studded French heavyweights Clermont, putting in a thoroughly impressive first-half performance to go into the break 13-3 ahead.

The highlight was undoubtedly a stunning Matt Hopper score, instigated by Danny Care’s quick-tap on his own ten-metre line. The scrum half fed Saxons wing Ugo Monye, who in turn offloaded to England captain Chris Robshaw.

Robshaw aimed a perfectly-weighted chip down-field, which was gathered and flicked back inside brilliantly by Care, who had showed exceptional desire to support the attack. Centre Hopper gathered the pass and darted over.

Although the try gave Conor O’Shea’s men some daylight, Clermont clawed their way back, overturning their hosts thanks to Sitiveni Sivivatu’s five-pointer and Brock James’ boot.

Even so, Joe Marler and Robshaw were extremely influential over their 80-minute shifts – demonstrating their form ahead of the RBS 6 Nations. Care was also eye-catching aside from his assist, though he departed before the end because of an ankle injury.

Elliot Stooke claims a lineout

Photo: Getty Images

Shorn of Tom Youngs’ services to compound their already massive injury list, Leicester Tigers travelled to Treviso and were given a hefty scare.

The Italians led 19-13 with half an hour remaining, but Saxon Anthony Allen joined the fray and became the catalyst for the reigning Aviva Premiership champions’ comeback and eventual 34-19 bonus-point triumph.

Elsewhere, Junior World Championship-winner Luke Cowan-Dickie made his first European appearance for Exeter Chiefs in their 15-10 defeat to Glasgow Warriors, while four-cap wing Charlie Sharples crossed for Gloucester Rugby’s solitary try in a 20-7 reverse at the hands of Munster.

Former England Under 20 duo Dan Robson and Elliot Stooke impressed for the Cherry and Whites.

There were comprehensive victories for both Bath and London Irish in the Amlin, while London Wasps recorded a fine 26-13 win in Bayonne, inspired once more by Joe Launchbury and James Haskell. The former grabbed a second-half try, the latter made 13 tackles from openside.

Sunday saw Saracens take on Toulouse at Stade Ernest-Wallon, and though Chris Ashton’s sharp score gave them an early advantage, the French side’s monstrous back row outmuscled the visitors.

Mark McCall’s men lost 21-11, but Brad Barritt – with 10 tackles – and Billy Vunipola, racking up 47 metres from 11 carries, never stopped working.