This week we take a break from the League matches for a detour to play for the Heineken Cup. The six Premiership squads who have qualified this year are Gloucester, Leeds. Leicester, Northampton, Sale and Wasps. Details of all the teams taking part are listed below along with the results of the First Round played over the last weekend.
You may be thinking that I was there supporting my team against their French foes Perpignan, but alas my seat was empty! I was to be found walking the city walls of Chester having messed up with the dates when I booked my 'Annual Christmas Shopping' weekend away. All was not lost though; my husband donated his seat to a very nice, poor young Frenchman doing unpaid work experience in this country. Was he pleased??? Well he was pleased with the offer of the seat before the match but by the end I think he may have thought this was English hospitality taken one step too far!!
Here are just some of the highlights of the 1st Round; starting of course with the game I missed!
Wasps 28 - Perpignan 7
The Captain was back! Lawrence Dallaglio is determined that the European Cup is going to Wasps this season and he came out with his squad to win their first game in the tournament at the start of a week which was to include the March with the World Cup through London, two testimonial dinners for 1,750 people at each; one was sold out and an additional one had to be arranged for the Wednesday night; as well as the Freedom of the Wasps current club home, High Wycombe. What a week! The game itself really showed what Wasps could do and after just an hour the score was 28 - 0 - although they did have their casualties in the game. Josh Lewsey required 11 stitches in a head wound; he really did want to look his best for the Queen on Monday; and Joe Worsley had a possible broken thumb that could lead to 10 weeks out. Perpignan did attempt to rally with a try from Manny Edmonds, however, although the referee gave it, there were an awful lot of people who failed to see why. The conversion took them to their final score of 7.
Stade Francais 26 - Leicester 15
Not even returning hero Martin Johnson could save the game for Leicester Tigers. Two converted tries and four penalties gave Stade the victory and at half time the scores stood at 16 - 5. After half time Liebenberg chased a ball down the wing and, despite Holtby being in front, managed to dive over the line onto it and Dominguez added two points for the conversion. Immediately after, Pez slipped unopposed through to take revenge with his own try complete with conversion. A penalty soon after, brought Leicester within eight points of the leaders. Alas the chase ended there as a penalty and long drop goal added further distance between the two scores. The rain came down and said it all.
Llanelli 14 - Northampton 9
Ben Cohen, Steve Thompson and Paul Grayson all returned to the side for their match in the valleys. Unfortunately it was not to be a welcome home there for them. One try to the home team was the only highlight in a scrappy match. Despite a good defence the Saints were unable to build passes with their points coming from penalties. The Scarlets were more than happy to come away with a win as Saints defeated them in the semi final three years ago. The good news for Northampton was that they did not go away totally empty-handed having scored a bonus point for being within five points of the winners score.
The Heineken Cup
League Table - Heineken Cup - Tables as of: 08/12/2003
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