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European Champions Cup Round-up: Last-gasp Bath snatch dramatic victory

George Ford kept his cool to kick Bath Rugby to a last-gasp European Champions Cup victory over Aviva Premiership Rugby rivals Wasps.

In the only all Aviva Premiership Rugby clash of the weekend Ford nailed a conversion from the touchline to win it 25-23 after Anthony Watson’s try in the corner levelled the scorelines with the clock ticking into the red.

Jonathan Joseph and Matt Banahan had given the visitors a slim lead at half-time, but Rob Miller finished off a brilliant team score to edge Wasps in front after Ruaridh Jackson’s boot had kept them in touch.

Wasps stay top of the pile in Pool 5 and earned a crucial losing bonus-point, but with Bath closing the gap, head coach Mike Ford is relishing the return fixture next weekend.

He said: “In our business it’s not nice to have a couple of losses on the run and it took the last kick of the game to win it this week.

“It’s a tough game, Wasps are dangerous all over the park. They got back into the game and I think we gave them easy penalties at times.

“Look they are a good side and it’s going to be the same next week when they come to the Rec, but we are massively pleased that we got a win.

“We need to be more clinical; we said that before the game and when we get into the 22 we need to come away with points.”

Meanwhile Saracens boss Mark McCall insists his side still have plenty more to offer, despite a Champions Cup masterclass at Oyonnax.

The Aviva Premiership Rugby champions ran in six tries in France, with England fly-half Owen Farrell also adding 13 points from the tee.

Sarries dominated from the outset and, after giving up possession cheaply several time inside the home 22 early on, finally forced the first score when Oyonnax’s scrum crumbled under immense pressure and a penalty try was awarded.

The hosts missed a couple of penalty chances to close the gap and McCall’s side made them pay with two excellent tries from Alex Goode and Chris Wyles – with Farrell instrumental in the build-up for both.

Maro Itoje finished off a fine team try to secure the bonus point for Saracens after the interval, before both Richard Wigglesworth and Schalk Brits put gloss on the scoreline.

And, despite Farrell and Goode both having excellent outings, McCall singled out flanker Michael Rhodes after the game.

“Mike had a superb game today,” he said. “Physically he really fronted up. He was good with the ball and good without the ball, but across the board we have competition for places that allows us to rotate and keep our squad fresh as the big games keep on coming.

“I think the performance was a mixed one in truth. When we were good we were very good.

“We had a 25-minute period in the beginning of the match where we didn’t really leave our own half because of our ill-discipline, but when we got into their half we were very clinical and scored a couple of nice tries.

“In the second half that continued when we scored a couple of smashing tries to get the bonus point, but thereafter the game drifted a little bit – that can happen when you’re 38-3 up.”

Saturday’s action saw brilliant victories for both second and third in Aviva Premiership Rugby, as Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers also continued their Champions Cup charge.

Rob Baxter’s Exeter kept their fate in their own hands with a 31-14 win over French giants Clermont Auvergne at Sandy Park.

Trailing 14-10 at the break, Thomas Waldrom, Don Armand and Mitch Lees all went over for tries in the second half as the Chiefs scored 21 unanswered points to climb to the top of Pool 2.

Clermont held an early 14-3 lead after Hosea Gear and Aurelien Rougerie crossed for the visitors, but Waldrom's first try of the afternoon five minutes before the break started the fightback.

Leicester Tigers were equally impressive in Ireland as they notched up a 31-19 win at Munster.

Two quick-fire first-half tries stunned Thomond Park and turned the game in the visitors' favour, as both Vereniki Goneva and Mike Fitzgerald went over just before the break.

Ben Youngs then charged across the whitewash after Sean Cronin had touched down to get Munster back in the contest, meaning Mike Sherry's late try was little more than a consolation for the hosts.

That makes it three Champions Cup wins from three for Leicester, and it was the first time Munster have failed to collect even a losing bonus point in Europe.

But it was not all good news for the Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs, as Northampton Saints’ struggles continued as they were humbled 33-3 by Dan Carter’s Racing 92.

JJ Hanrahan's penalty was all Jim Mallinder's side could manage, with the hosts on top form and running in five tries in total.
 
SUNDAY
 
Oyonnax 10 Saracens 45
 
Oyonnax
Tries: Aziza
Conversions: Lespinas
Penalties: Clegg
 
Saracens
Tries: Brits, Goode, Itoje, Wigglesworth, Wyles, Penalty
Conversions: Farrell 5, Hodgson
Penalties: Farrell
 
Referee: Marius Mitrea
 
Wasps 23 Bath Rugby 25
 
Wasps
Tries: Miller
Penalties: Jackson 4, Daly, Gopperth
 
Bath Rugby
Tries: Joseph, Banahan, Watson
Conversions: Ford 2
Penalties: Ford 2
 
Referee: Jerome Garces
 
SATURDAY
 
Exeter Chiefs 31 Clermont Auvergne 14
 
Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Waldrom 2, Armand, Lees
Conversions: Steenson 4
Penalties: Steenson
 
Clermont Auvergne
Tries: Gear, Rougerie
Conversions: Parra 2
 
Referee: John Lacey
Attendance: 10,930
           
Munster 19 Leicester Tigers 31
 
Munster
Tries: Cronin, Sherry
Penalties: Keatley 3
 
Leicester
Tries: Goneva, Fitzgerald, B Youngs
Conversions: Williams 2
Penalties: Williams 2, Bell 2
 
Referee: Romain Poite
Attendance: 22,231
 
Racing 92 33 Northampton Saints 3
 
Racing 92
Tries: Dulin 2, Chavancy, Arous, Imhoff
Conversions: Carter 3, Goosen
 
Northampton
Penalties: Hanrahan
 
Referee: George Clancy
Attendance: 8,733
 
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