Wasps see off Grenoble
A review of the weekend's action so far in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
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Wasps can book their place in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a match to spare if they can beat Bayonne at Stade Jean-Dauger in their showdown on the second weekend of January.
Their 32-12 victory over Grenoble at Adams Park means they have their quarter-final destiny in their own hands as they have racked up 18 points, three more than Bayonne.
And although they have moved a giant step closer to quarter-final qualification as Pool 4 winners, Grenoble gave director of Rugby Dai Young some second-half scares along the way.
Wasps join Bath as the only two teams still able to boast four from four at the end of the back-to-back rounds and will relish the challenges in the new year at Bayonne and home to Rugby Viadana.
But while they scored seven tries in their 47-7 Round 3 victory over Grenoble at Stade Lesdiguieres, the French side put up far stiffer resistance this time and restricted them to just a try in each half while scoring two of their own after the break.
Joe Carlisle, who ended up with 19 points from the boot from five penalty goals and both conversions, gave Wasps an early advantage before England international flanker James Haskell crossed for the only try of the half.
Elliott Daly also contributed a penalty goal for the home side but two quick-fire tries from Ratu Alipate Ratini had the Wasps alarm bells briefly ringing before Tom Varndell got a second try to see Wasps safely home and set up that potential group decider with Bayonne in the new year.
Bath ensured Peter Stringer had a suitable win to celebrate his 100th appearance in the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup tournaments as they ran in 11 tries in a 63-0 home win over Rugby Mogliano.
Stringer, the day after his 36th birthday, came on to replace Martyn Roberts on the hour and saw Matt Banahan round off the rout with two more tries to complete his hat-trick. Bath now sit eight points clear of Newport Gwent Dragons at the top of Pool Two with a perfect four wins out of four.
They meet the Dragons at Rodney Parade in Round Five in the new year and a draw will be good enough to clinch a quarter-final place.
It took a mere three minutes for Bath to break down the Italians' defence when Carl Fearns crashed over for the opening try. By half-time there had been four more tries as the score mounted to 29-0.
Mogliano, who had conceded nine tries in a 55-8 defeat a week earlier on home soil, missed with a penalty in the first half, lost one player to the sin-bin and never looked like threatening the home line.
Banahan raced over for the next try a minute after the re-start and he ended the game with four tries. Fearns got a second, replacement Olly Woodburn got two and George Ford ended with 13 points.
Newcastle Falcons fell one try short of a bonus point in their Pool Three clash with Rugby Calvisano. Their 25-10 victory in Italy featured two tries from Zach Kibirige and a third from replacement Rory Clegg.
The win took them to level on 14 points at the top of the group with Brive.
In the the third game on Saturday afternoon, Bayonne thrashed Aironi 80-19 in Pool Four.
London Irish saw top spot in Pool Five slip from their grasp three minutes from time in Paris.
Antoine Burban's 77th-minute try clinched a dramatic bonus point in a 32-14 victory that saw Stade Francais move ahead of the Exiles on match-points gained in their back-to-back games.
It was a major blow for previously unbeaten London Irish after Andrw Fenby's early try handed them a perfect start at Stade Jean Bouin.
Danny Cipriani stole the show as Sale Sharks scored seven tries to overrun Oyonnax 53-14 and regain control of Pool One on Friday night.
Cipriani crossed for two tries and converted all but one of the seven - while adding two penalties - as Sale left little doubt about their superior class by scoring the first 41 points unanswered.
James Gaskell, Dan Braid, Mark Cueto, Rob Miller and Michael Paterson also touched down for the Sharks.
On Thursday night, Worcester's Jeremy Su'a scored after 19 seconds and Biarritz had a prop sent off but that still was not enough for the Warriors to claim their first win in the competition this season.
Dean Ryan's team led for all but eight minutes of a thrilling European clash at Stade des Sports Aguilera yet still finished without a point as they webnt down 33-25.
Instead two tries each by Teddy Thomas and Yann Lesgourges saw the Basque club come from behind to win for the second time in a week while Benoit Baby's last-minute penalty denied Warriors a losing bonus-point.
It had looked a different story when scrum-half Su'a charged down a kick to score inside the opening minute.
Max Stelling and Paul Warwick followed in the second half, either side of a second yellow for Biarritz prop Thomas Synaeghel, while Ignacio Mieres also kicked 10 points.
But 14-man Biarritz stormed back with a late flurry to take victory.
Nicolas Sanchez scored 22 points as Newport Gwent Dragons missed the chance to go top of Pool Two, losing 32-13 at Bordeaux-Begles.
Bordeaux fly-half Sanchez scored an early try before Robert Lilomaieva and Jefferson Poirot crossed in the final 12 minutes.
But it was three yellow cards for Dragons forwards that proved just as decisive as the visitors' discipline deserted them at Stade Andre Moga.
Toby Faletau crossed before half-time to hand the Dragons a chance of victory but fellow forwards Andrew Coombs, Lewis Evans and Robertt Sidoli were all binned to leave the visitors facing an uphill struggle.
Dragons, who beat Bordeaux 40-22 last week, remain three points behind Bath who face Rugby Mogliano on Saturday and in the driving seat for a place in the last eight.
Brive beat Bucharest Wolves 20-9 but left the door open for Newcastle Falcons to take top spot in Pool Three after failing to collect a bonus point.
I Cavalieri Prato recovered from conceding an early try to beat Portuguese club Lusitanos to claim a second win in Pool Five.