Challenge Cup wrap: Earle off as Bath win

Date published: December 15 2016

Bath moved top of Pool 4 in the Challenge Cup as they beat Cardiff Blues 38-3 while Stade Français edged Edinburgh 26-20 but stay third in Pool 5.

Bath 38-3 Cardiff Blues

Bath capitalised on George Earle's red card as they claimed a bonus-point victory over Cardiff Blues at the Recreation Ground on Thursday.

It was an even first 40 as both sides knew the importance of the result, which possibly played a part in making it a low-scoring opening.

George Ford, back in Bath colours for the first time since October, missed with his first shot at goal which allowed opposing fly-half Steven Shingler to push Cardiff Blues in front on 22 minutes. Bath might have wondered how they were behind but errors cost them in the 22.

They eventually unlocked the Blues defence on 27 minutes when a lovely delayed pass from centre Jonathan Joseph found Ross Batty, who went over from 15 metres out for the first try. Ford slotted the simple kick and suddenly Bath were 7-3 to the good on home soil.

Cardiff Blues possibly should have crossed themselves five minutes after Ford had made it 10-3 off the tee, but a great tackle from centre Ben Tapuai dislodged the ball out of Shingler's grasp on the right wing. The fly-half had the line in his sights and will lament that miss.

Bath struck first after the interval when Jack Wilson finished nicely on the right wing after he was found by Ford, who then made it 17-3. That came in between a yellow card for Kirby Myhill (tip tackle) and red card for Earle (alleged eye gouge), as the Blues were down to 13.

The hosts sensed blood and the third try came on 52 minutes when Kahn Fotuali'i's pass found Aled Brew for a score that made it 24-3.

The bonus-point was the next task for Bath and it came in style as Batty raced in from over halfway on 64 minutes. The margin was now 31-3 and there was still time for one more try, with replacement second-row Elliott Stooke going over to put the seal on a much-needed win.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Tries: Batty 2, Wilson, Brew, Stooke
Cons: Ford 4, Homer
Pen: Ford

For Cardiff Blues:
Pen: Shingler
Yellow Card: Myhill (41 min)
Red Card: Earle (44 min)

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 George Ford (cc), 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Charlie Ewels (cc), 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nick Auterac
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Max Clark

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Cory Allen, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Blaine Scully, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Macauley Cook, 5 James Down, 4 George Earle, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Seb Davies, 21 Ellis Jenkins, 22 Tomos Williams, 23 Nicky Robinson

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant Referees: Laurent Cardona (France), Jonathan Gasnier (France)
TMO: Arnaud Blondel (France)

Stade Français 26-20 Edinburgh

Stade Français reduced the gap on Edinburgh to four points as they claimed a bonus-point win in their Challenge Cup clash on Thursday.

It was an impressive opening half from the Parisians as they went in 26-3 to the good, thanks to four tries and Jules Plisson's boot.

The French side's scorers were hooker Remi Bonfils, full-back Hugo Bonneval and outside centre Geoffrey Doumayrou, whose score came following a penalty try as the bonus-point was secured in quick time.

Edinburgh needed to regroup at the break, knowing a defeat would open the door to Harlequins to go top if they beat Timisoara Saracens.

That they did as the Scots looked a different team in the second period, with tries from lock Fraser McKenzie and replacement Viliame Mata in the 46th and 62nd minute reducing the arrears down to 26-15. Suddenly it was game on at Stade Jean Bouin as Edinburgh pushed hard.

But as time ticked on an incredible win seemed unlikely with only a try from scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne with a minute to play managing to give a gutsy Edinburgh side a losing bonus-point for their efforts, which could well come in handy at the conclusion of the pool stages.

The scorers:

For Stade Français:
Tries: Bonfils, Bonneval, Penalty Try, Doumayrou
Cons: Plisson 3

For Edinburgh:
Tries: McKenzie, Mata, Hidalgo-Clyne
Con: Tovey
Pen: Tovey

Stade Français: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Jérémy Sinzelle, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Josaia Raisuqe, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Clement Daguin, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Sekou Macalou, 6 Jonathan Ross, 5 Pascal Papé, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Remi Bonfils, 1 Emmanuel Felsina
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Zurabi Zhvania, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Mathieu De Giovanni, 20 Sylvain Nicolas, 21 Arthur Coville, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Julien Arias

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Michael Allen, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Jason Tovey 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Cornell Du Preez, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Glenn Bryce

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Helen O’Reilly (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)