Last season's beaten finalists Toulouse moved closer to a place in the quarter-finals with a 26-13 win against Newport-Gwent Dragons while Cardiff remain top of pool six after a 10-6 win away to Biarritz.
AFP - Two tries in the final five minutes helped defending champions Munster to a crucial 23-13 win over 14-man Clermont Auvergne in the European Cup on Saturday.
The victory left Munster top of Pool 1 on 13 points from four games, with second-placed Sale playing Montauban later. Clermont now lie third on eight points.
The game looked to have been going the way of the French side, who beat Munster 25-17 last week but controversially lost Canadian lock Jamie Cudmore to a harsh red card on 18 minutes this time around after he exchanged punches with Paul O'Connell, who only received a yellow card for his role in the altercation.
Clermont had taken the lead with 20 minutes of the game remaining following a Julien Malzieu try converted from wide out by Brock James, who had earlier kicked two penalties to cancel out a David Wallace try.
But Munster's numerical pressure finally paid off against a tiring Clermont side, prop Marcus Horan driving over from short range down the blindside.
Openside flanker Niall Ronan then fielded a poor Anthony Floch clearance and had the pace and skill to follow up on his own chip to touch down.
Ronan O'Gara converted Ronan's try to become the first player in the Cup's history to have scored 1,000 points.
Elsewhere, three-time former winners Toulouse and Cardiff Blues remained unbeaten after securing pool wins over Newport-Gwent Dragons and Biarritz respectively.
Toulouse, last season's beaten finalists, outscored the Dragons three tries to one to notch up their fourth win from as many games in Pool 5 but missed out on an attacking bonus point.
Second-placed Bath travel to Glasgow on Sunday in the knowledge that there can be no slip-up if they are to keep in contention with the French champions.
Maxime Medard reaped a brace for Toulouse, with the other try scored by Cedric Heymans, while the home side's sole try came through Rhys Thomas.
Cardiff Blues overcame dismal weather conditions to claim a vital 10-6 win over Biarritz in their Pool 6 clash.
The Welsh region, who have long failed to live up to expectations in Cup competition, now sit atop the pool with 18 points, having won all four of their matches.
Biarritz are unable to qualify for the knock-out stage of the tournament and the pool has become a two-horse race between Cardiff and second-placed Gloucester, who completed a comprehensive 48-5 win over Calvisano.
In Biarritz, all the scoring occurred in the first-half, Blues centre Jamie Robinson touching down for the game's only try in the 11th minute after Gareth Thomas had charged down a kick from Biarritz full-back Benjamin Thiery.
Former All Black full-back Ben Blair added the conversion to a penalty he had kicked a minute before for a 10-0 lead.
The home side hit back with two penalties from Damien Traille and Julien Peyrelongue around the half-hour mark but remained unable to breach the solid Blues defence in cold, rainy and muddy conditions in southwest France.
"We're not going to start talking about the quarter-finals with two big games remaining, but we are very pleased with this result," admitted Blues coach David Young.
Ospreys moved to the top of Pool 3, and kept up their chances of a quarter-final berth, with a bonus-point 36-16 victory over winless Treviso. Leicester can take back top spot should they beat Perpignan on Sunday.
The Welsh region, 68-8 winners over the Italian club last week, scored tries through Sonny Parker (2), Alun Wyn Jones, Jonathan Thomas and Filo Tiatia. Treviso hit back with a Brendan Williams breakaway try and the boot of Andrea Marcato.
Date created : 2008-12-14