Bordeaux-Begles break their Euro drought
CHALLENGE CUP SATURDAY WRAP: Bordeaux-Begles reached a European semifinal for the first time after beating visiting Edinburgh 23-14 on Saturday.
Leicester Tigers advanced to the last four after French club Castres, who recorded four COVID-19 cases, were deemed to have forfeited the match scheduled at Welford Road on Sunday.
“The decision followed a meeting of a Medical Committee comprising medical leads from the unions, league bodies and both clubs, and subsequent independent medical advice,” European Professional Club Rugby, who run the European club competitions, said in a statement.
“Castres have to forfeit the match and Leicester will qualify for the Challenge Cup semi-finals.”
Next weekend, Bordeaux-Begles will meet another club playing in a European final four for the first time, Bristol, who thrashed the Dragons 56-17 on Friday.
Victory gives Bordeaux-Begles a chance to salvage something from a 2019-20 season that was going so well until the coronavirus pandemic ended the French Top 14 campaign in March when they were leading the league.
In front of 1,000 noisy fans at Stade Chaban-Delmas, the home side scored two tries in the opening eight minutes through Argentina’s Santiago Cordero and Jean-Baptiste Dubie. France fly-half Mathieu Jalibert converted both.
“Even with 1,000 spectators, we heard them a lot,” said captain Jefferson Poirot.
“You have to tip your hat to them.”
A Jalibert penalty put Bordeaux-Begles 17-6 up 50 minutes.
But playing only their second competitive match since club rugby resumed in France, coach Christophe Urios’ team began to make mistakes and the Scottish visitors fought back with a try by winger Damien Hoyland.
With 10 minutes to go, the hosts were reduced to 14 men when Tonga prop Ben Tameifuna earned a yellow card and Blair Kinghorn cut the lead to six points from the subsequent penalty.
But the home defence held and Ben Botica sealed victory with a last-minute penalty.
“Physically, they are more ready than us,” Jalibert said. “We started the match with a big lead, we caught them by the throat at the start and little by little we lost momentum, we started to make mistakes and they came back.”
On Friday, Dragons jumped to a 10-0 lead at Ashton Gate but Bristol responded with seven tries, two by Ben Earl, to win 56-17 and earn Fiji centre Semi Radradra a rematch with the club he left in mid-year.
Later Toulon booked a last four spot to face the Tigers with a sluggish 11-6 victory Welsh region despite missing World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth with a rib injury.
Saturday’s scores and scorers below …
Bordeaux-Begles 23-14 Edinburgh
Tries: Cordero, Dubié
Cons: Jalibert 2
Pens: Jalibert 2, Botica
Pens: Van der Walt 2, Kinghorn
Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Nans Ducuing, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 12 Ulupano Seuteni, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Mahamadou Diaby, 5 Jandré Marais, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Clement Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot (captain).
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Lekso Kaulashvili, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Cyril Cazeaux, 20 Cameron Woki, 21 Maxime Lucu, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Pablo Uberti.
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 James Johnstone, 12 George Taylor, 11 Damien Hoyland, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Charlie Shiel, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Andrew Davidson, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Nick Haining, 22 Daniel Nutton, 23 Chris Dean/
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini (France), Cedric Marchat (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)
RC Toulon 11-6 Scarlets
For RC Toulon
Pens: Carbone 2
Pens: Halfpenny 2
RC Toulon: 15 Daniel Ikpefan, 14 Masivesi Dakuwaqa, 13 Bryce Heem , 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Gabin Villière, 10 Baptiste Serin, 9 Tane Takulua, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Raphael Lakafia, 6 Charles Ollivon, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Swan Rebbadj, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Anthony Etrillard (captain), 1 Jean Baptiste Gros.
Replacements: 16 Bastien Soury, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Emerick Setiano, 19 Erwan Dridi, 20 Brian Alainu’uese, 21 Julien Ory, 22 Louis Carbonel, 23 Facundo Isa.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Joshua Macleod, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 James Davies, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Tyler Morgan.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Vincent Blasco Baqué (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)
Source: @ERChallengeCup, with additional reporting by AFP