Manu Tuilagi stars for Leicester in Champions Cup win over Scarlets

Sport360 staff 12:45 20/10/2018
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Manu Tuilagi starred for the Tigers against Scarlets

Leicester’s Geordan Murphy was full of praise for Manu Tuilagi, who starred in the win over Scarlets which keeps Tigers’ European Champions Cup hopes alive.

England centre Tuilagi scored one of his side’s five tries in the 45-27 success. The others came from Harry Wells, Guy Thompson, Sione Kalamafoni, and Jonny May, with George Ford kicking four penalties and four conversions.

Director of Rugby Murphy said: “Manu had an amazing game and he is getting better every week.

“If he keeps playing he will get even better and after tonight he’s got a shot at being selected for England, although Eddie (Jones) has a pool of talent to pick from.

“He was obviously man of the match and his confidence grew after he scored his try but in the second half we got front foot ball which gave him opportunities to get over the gain-line.

“He only made only one mistake by losing possession, which gave Scarlets the chance to go ahead at 27-25 after 60 minutes – but that was the catalyst we needed as we had a fresh bench to come on and they made the difference.”

Leicester’s bonus point win kept them in contention in Pool Four but they still face an uphill task to qualify for the quarter-finals after the defeat at Ulster.

Murphy added: “After last week’s disappointing performance against Ulster it was a must-win game for us and this was more like the standard that I expect.

“It’s an incredibly difficult pool as we now have Racing 92 back to back. We struggled over there last year and they always seem to add more galacticos as Finn Russell and Simon Zebo have both come in this year.”

Scarlets replied with tries from Gareth Davies, Steff Evans and Blade Thomson, with Leigh Halfpenny kicking two penalties and three conversions.

However, their efforts were not enough to secure anything for the Welsh side as a failure to pass from Evans in the final minute lost his side a valuable bonus point.

Head coach Wayne Pivac said: “They started the game well and also the second half strongly so we were always chasing the game.

“We did well to get back into and take the lead but we made too many errors and they were very clinical in finishing the game off.

“We were under pressure in the scrum so we conceded a number of penalties, which caused us to lose territory.

“We were short of injured players but we felt we had a team to get the job done and it was disappointing to leave a bonus point out there in the end.

“It’s now a very tough task to qualify so we need to regroup and try to get two bonus point wins, home and away to Ulster.”

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Munster v Gloucester and Toulouse v Leinster headline week two of Champions Cup

Alex Broun 17:53 17/10/2018
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Joey Carbery in action for Munster

It’s the second weekend of European Rugby’s glamour tournament, the Champions Cup, with already some matches taking on greater significance.

With only the winners of each pool and the three best second placed teams going through to the knockout stages a couple of bad results can end a team’s European campaign.

So with the stakes rising we picked out four games to watch this weekend:

Munster v Gloucester

Saturday, October 20, 16:00 at Thomond Park, Limerick

Munster surprised many people, even themselves with their fighting 10-10 draw at high-flying Exeter on Match Day 1 and they will be looking to build on that when Johan Ackermann’s side arrive in town.

Gloucester will be very happy with their work on the opening weekend as they ground out a 19-14 victory over Top 14 champions Castres at Kingsholm.

This shapes up very much as a battle of the No10s, with Joey Carbery looking to build on his impressive start in Munster red and Gloucester’s Danny Cipriani trying to elevate himself in Eddie Jones’ pecking order.

Whichever fly-half ends up pulling the strings will decide the result.

Edinburgh v Toulon

Saturday October 20, 18:15 at Murrayfield, Edinburgh

The men from the Scottish capital put in one of the performances of the weekend to push French powerhouse Montpellier right to the wire on Match Day 1.

Coach Richard Cockerill has got his team on an upward curve and its not long till they really deliver.

In comparison the glamour club from the French Riviera are in complete free-fall. With just two wins from seven matches in the Top 14 they sit in lowly twelfth spot.

Big name signing Julian Savea is yet to score a try in seven games and was yellow carded in Toulon’s shock home loss to Newcastle on Match Day 1.

The pressure is already building on new coach Patrice Collazo, who did wonders at La Rochelle, with the trip to Edinburgh shaping up as a must win.

Injury cloud: John Cooney of Ulster

Injury cloud: John Cooney of Ulster

Racing 92 v Ulster

Saturday October 20, 20:30 at Paris La Defense Arena

Racing were made to work very hard for their win in Llanelli but they will have been delighted to come away from Parc y Scarlets with a victory.

Ulster started slowly against Leicester trailing 3-0 at halftime but with a man of the match performance from scrum-half John Cooney the team from Belfast piled on 24 second half points to win 24-10.

But Racing 92, last year’s losing finalists, will be a much greater challenge, especially back home in Paris.

With a dominant forward pack and the silky skills of Finn Russell and Simon Zebo out-wide Ulster will be hard pressed to win this one, especially with an injury cloud over Cooney and his flawless kicking.

Toulouse v Leinster

Sunday October 21, 18:15 at Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse

Both these teams produced the results of the opening weekend with Leinster putting on a masterclass to slaughter Wasps 52-3 in Dublin while Toulouse pulled off the greatest of escapes to scrape by Bath 22-20 at the Rec, thanks to a hapless Freddie Burns and the quick thinking of Maxime Medard.

Toulouse though will have their hands full this weekend trying to contain the twin threats of Jonny Sexton in close and the peerless James Lowe out-wide.

Lowe was never as highly rated as Julian Savea back in New Zealand, but the former Chiefs finisher has been superb for Leinster with a man of the match performance against Wasps including a staggering 184 run metres, four clean breaks, one try assist and two tries of his own.

To win Toulouse must keep Lowe and Sexton quiet, and Gary Ringrose, and Robbie Henshaw, and Tadgh Furlong, and Sean Cronin, and James Ryan and … You get the idea.

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Gregor Townsend names uncapped trio in Scotland squad for Autumn Tests

Sport360 staff 13:22 17/10/2018
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Gregor Townsend has included the uncapped trio of Sam Skinner, Sam Johnson and Blade Thomson in his Scotland squad for the autumn Tests.

Exeter second-rower Skinner is a former England youth international while Scarlets number eight Thomson has represented New Zealand’s Under-20s.

They join Glasgow centre Johnson in the 40-man group named ahead of next month’s clash with Wales in Cardiff and three Murrayfield Tests against Fiji, South Africa and Argentina.

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