Home comforts for London Irish
A review of the weekend's action in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
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London Irish came out on top 24-13 against Stade Francais in the battle of the Pool Five heavyweights at the Madejski Stadium.
A late Alex Lewington try secured the win for Irish to move them five points clear of the French side at the top of pool ahead of their return match next Saturday.
Tom Fowlie had scored for Irish in the first half and former England fly-half Shane Geraghty kicked 14 points to put the Aviva Premiership side in charge of their group.
Olivier Missoup scored a second half try for the visitors and Jerome Porical kicked eight points in a game that saw five yellow cards.
Fergus Mulchrone, Nic Rouse and Mike Mayhew all saw yellow for the home side while Stade lost Djibril Camara and Laurent Sempere to the sin bin.
Newcastle Falcons kept themselves hot on the heels of former Heineken Cup champions Brive in the race to be crowned Pool Three winners with a 37-15 try bonus-point win over Rugby Calvisano at Kingston Park.
In a match in which yellow was also very much the colour of the day, French referee Cedric Marchat sent eight players to the sin bin - six of them from the Italian club.
Flankers Maxime Mbanda and Nicola Belardo, centre pairing Tommy Castello and Andy Vilk, tighthead prop Lorenzo Romano and scrum half Simon Piconealso all saw yellow for Calvisano while Newcastle lost Will Welch and Joel Hodgson in the second half.
Newcastle wing Zach Kibirige got their first try after 24 minutes and full-back Noah Cato their second two minutes later.
That suggested a deluge of tries for the home side but instead they had to wait until the 50th minute to bank the bonus point, number eight Chris York getting try number four after the Falcons had earlier been awarded a penalty try.
Left wing Michele Visentin and number eight Braam Steyn did cross for the visitors but Cato collected his second and the Falcons' fifth in the 66th minute.
On Saturday, Rich Lane scored a hat-trick of tries as Bath thrashed Rugby Mogliano 55-8 in a bonus point victory that ensures they remain three points clear of Dragons at the top of Pool Two.
Aside from Lane's efforts, Bath notched six other tries through Dominic Day (two), Carl Fearns, Kyle Eastmond, replacement Tom Biggs and a penalty try, with Tom Heathcote notching the rest of the points with five conversions
The visitors got off to a flying start in Italy when, after five minutes, Day scored the opening try and Heathcote knocked over the conversion.
After that Mogliano managed to keep Bath at bay until midway through the first half but Fearns added another try, with Heathcote again converting.
The hosts managed to put some points on the board with with a penalty but then two tries in the space of six minutes from Lane, one converted by Heathcote, gave Bath a healthy 26-3 lead at the break.
Mogliano drew first blood after the break when Andrea Ceccato went over for a try but Nicolo Fadalti missed the conversion and Bath soon got another score themselves through Eastmond to move further in front.
A penalty try converted by Heathcote made it 38-8 with 14 minutes to play before Biggs grabbed another and Lane got his hat-trick.
Heathcote converted Lane's effort to bring up the 50 for his side before Day completed a fine day for Bath with a try in the final minute, although Heathcote was unable to add the extras on that occasion.
Charlie Hayter scored twice as Wasps gave another demonstration of their title credentials, winning 47-7 away to Grenoble.
Dai Young's side won their third successive tie to regain top spot in Pool Four, ahead of Bayonne, after taking maximum points at Stade Lesdiguieres.
There was little sign of the seven-try mauling to come when Joe Simpson missed with both his first two attempts at goal in the opening 10 minutes.
But Simpson's break and long pass handed Will Helu the opener after 13 minutes to fill Wasps with confidence.
Hayter's break saw Guy Thompson score his first try of the night to earn Wasps a 14-0 half-time lead
Centre Hayter crossed twice in the space of 13 minutes in the second half to firstly secure a bonus point and then kill off any lingering hopes of a Grenoble comeback. Thompson added his second try.
It was not until Hayter's long-range interception try that Wasps could finally relax after Grenoble mounted a fierce comeback sparked by Cedric Beal's try, converted by Olly Barkley.
Jack Winter-Moates stepped off the bench to finish a break by Tom Lindsay in style six minutes from time before Josh Bassett completed the rout.
Also on Saturday, Brive beat Bucharest 18-13 in Pool Three and Prato defeated Lusitanos 40-22 in Pool Five.
Newport Gwent Dragons boosted their bid to reach the knockout stages with a bonus-point 40-24 win over Bordeaux-Begles at Rodney Parade on Friday night.
The Welsh region took control of the contest thanks to three first-half tries from Patrick Leach, Matthew Pewtner and Hallam Amos.
Toby Faletau and Ashley Smith added further scores after the break to secure the bonus point and sent the Dragons took of Pool Two ahead of the return match in France next Thursday.
There was also a win for Bayonne as they beat Viadana 63-7.
Worcester's woes continued after a last-gasp try from Tanguy Molcard saw them lose 19-15 to Biarritz on Thursday night.
The Warriors had lost all seven previous fixtures at Sixways this season but looked set to break their duck thanks to tries from Dean Hammond and Alex Grove, and the boot of Chris Pennell.
However, Molcard crossed with the very last play to leave Worcester head coach Dean Ryan waiting for his first win in 12 European and Aviva Premiership games this term.
Worcester led 12-0 with just over half an hour gone after Hammond crossed on 26 minutes and Grove followed suit five minutes later, but Pennell could only convert one score having also missed an earlier penalty.
A converted try from American wing Taku Ngwenya cut the gap to 12-7 four minutes before the break when Ofa Fainga'anuku had been yellow carded, and Biarritz surged ahead with 62 minutes played when Yann Lesgourgues crossed under the posts.
Pennell's kick then looked to have won it for Worcester but Molcard ensured their nightmare start continued.
Despite Biarritz's victory, Sale clung on to the top spot in Pool One thanks to a bonus point in their 16-10 defeat to Oyonnax.
The French club have been giant killers in the Top 14 and an Augustin Figuerola try ensured they claimed their first European win before Joe Ford snatched a losing bonus point with a late drop goal.
Benjamin Urdapilleta booted Oyonnax into the lead after just two minutes at Stade Charles Mathon but Sale grabbed the first try.
As the 15-minute mark approached the ball was spread to Rob Miller, who threaded a pinpoint kick through for Phil MacKenzie, who collected the ball and stepped inside Silvere Tian to score.
Nick Macleod added the extras but Urdapilleta quickly hit back as Oyonnax responded in perfect fashion.
They took the lead on 20 minutes as Figuerola caught the Sharks napping with a quick tap on the edge of the 22 to dart over.
Urdapilleta was once again on target and the French club weathered a Sale storm to enter the break leading 13-7
A stalemate then ensued in the second half until Nicolas Vuillemin struck a penalty on the 74th minute and Ford responded.