by Ben Coles
YOU CANNOT win the Heineken Cup in Round Two, but you can go some way to losing it. After another action-packed weekend from across the continent, here and the winners and losers from over the last four days:
After a defeat in Toulouse where the Tigers made an uncharacteristic amount of errors, Sunday afternoon at Welford Road saw flashes of the Leicester at their best. Three tries in the final 10 minutes transformed what was a nailbiting contest against the Ospreys into a bonus point victory, with the England trio of Toby Flood, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi all crossing the whitewash. It meant that the Tigers put themselves back in contention ahead of their double header against Treviso, with Youngs rebounding from his horrible afternoon in the south of France to put the pressure back on Danny Care and leave Welford Road rocking.
Not looking like he’s up for an England call-up any time soon, nevertheless, Steffon Armitage picked up the Man of the Match award for Toulon in their away victory against Cardiff back at the Arms Park, leaving Jonny Wilkinson to proclaim that, “the job that he does is world class and when you are world class you deserve to be in a squad”. The openside grabbed a crucial try in the second-half to stretch the visitors lead.
Semi-finallists in last season’s competition, Clermont are desperate for Heineken Cup glory after finally winning the Bouclier de Brennus back in 2010. They have started their campaign this season with a bang, racking up two bonus point wins against the Scarlets to put them top of Pool 5 with 10 points from two games. More importantly, they are two points ahead of rivals Leinster. Perhaps this is their year.
Scotland’s most successful side in Europe, Edinburgh have started their Heineken Cup campaign so badly you almost wonder whether their run to the semi-finals of last year’s competition actually happened. A 33-0 drubbing away at Thomond Park followed the 45-0 loss to Saracens at Murrayfield last weekend, meaning Michael Bradley’s side have shipped nearly 80 points without reply. It is the first time in Heineken Cup history that a side has failed to score a point after two rounds. Edinburgh were magnificent in their double header against Racing Métro last season, but even doing the double over the French side might not be enough to put them back in contention.
A niggly, rugged 6-11 home defeat to Gloucester in Round One of the Amlin Challenge Cup showed that although Mont-de-Marsan may have been 10 points adrift at the bottom of the Top 14, they could still put up a fight. Their trip to Reading to take on London Irish however quickly dispelled this theory, as the visitors conceded 11 tries to bury their hopes of success in the competition.
His brother might have picked up the Man of the Match award, but Delon Armitage came away from Cardiff wrongly criticised by the Cardiff faithful following an accidental collision that saw Cardiff centre Gavin Evans stretchered off. Armitage has a history of poor tackles, but this was a clear incident where he was not at fault and yet he found himself chastised for his actions.
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