Wasps take revenge to halt La Rochelle

Paris (AFP) –


Wasps salvaged some pride against La Rochelle while Saracens came close in Clermont on Sunday, but with the fourth weekend of the Champions Cup almost finished, Bath are the only English club in the top two in their pool.

Last week, all seven English teams lost, some of them badly, but on Sunday Wasps throttled La Rochelle 21-3 in Coventry, to gain some payback for a 20-point thrashing in France the previous weekend.

Saracens, beaten by 32 points at home by Clermont on Monday, did better in the return match, jumping to an early lead but conceding two penalties the last seven minutes to lose 24-21 in France.

Having come close against the Ospreys at home last week the third English team in action on Sunday, Northampton, this time lost more convincingly, 32-15 in Swansea.

La Rochelle kicked off on Sunday on maximum points after collecting a bonus in winning each of their first three games.

Last week the French side produced an orgy of attacking rugby but on Sunday they were pinned back by a Wasps team seeking both revenge and a victory that would keep alive their hopes of advancing.

England winger Eliot Daly smashed over in the corner to give Wasps the lead after 11 minutes. He converted the try and did the same after touching down again in the 47th minute.

Wasps never allowed the visitors to develop their attacking game and La Rochelle scored their first and only points when Brock James kicked a penalty on the hour.

Wasps had the last word when replacement hooker Tom Cruse bulled over after a lineout. Danny Cipriani converted but Wasps could not add a fourth try to collect a bonus point.

Despite leaving the Ricoh Arena without even a losing bonus point, the French team remain first in Pool 1, two points ahead of Ulster, who crushed Harlequins on Friday, and five clear of third-place Wasps.

- Chaotic finale -

In Clermont, smarting Saracens raced to a 13-0 lead with a try by Ben Spencer and a conversion and two penalties from Owen Farrell.

Morgan Parra responded with six straight penalty kicks to put the home team five points ahead. Farrell replied with a penalty and then Alex Lozowski scored an unconverted try to put Sarries ahead again.

But in a chaotic and error-filled final 15 minutes, Parra kicked two more penalties to secure the victory which lifted the French club five points clear at the head of pool 2 and dropped Saracens to third.

Ospreys climbed to second, scoring four tries to collect a bonus against Northampton.

On Saturday, Leinster played 20 minutes with men in the sin bin and resisted intense Exeter pressure before beating the English champions 22-17 to stay top of Pool 3. Montpellier beat Glasgow, 36-26, to take a firm hold on second place.

The one bright spot for the English is provided by Bath, who bounced back from last week's narrow defeat at Toulon to beat the French giants 26-21 at the Recreation Ground and leapfrog them into top spot of Pool 5. Scarlets won 31-12 in Treviso to stay in touch with the top two.