Round-up: Treviso muddy waters in Heineken pool of death


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The Independent Online

Benetton Treviso made Pool Five of the Heineken Cup, the competition's obligatory pool of death, a little deadlier still – if that is possible – by beating Biarritz 30-26 in the Veneto yesterday.

Kristopher Burton kicked 15 points and Michele Rizzo, Robert Barbieri and Cornelius van Zyl scored tries. Pelu Taele, Marcelo Bosch, Damien Traille and Yann Lesgourgues scored tries for Biarritz, who took two points, for scoring four tries and losing by fewer than seven points.

Having won one, drawn one and lost one, Treviso are in the hunt for what would be Italy's first quarter-final place. Biarritz have been beaten twice but they have three bonus points and are not out of it – unless their coaches decide to concentrate on domestic matters, which are rather pressing: the Basques are bottom of the Top 14. The importance attached to European competition will affect Treviso's chances in France this week.

Saracens and the Ospreys are happily embroiled in their own double-header and all sorts of nasty permutations are thus possible, leading one to misquote Blackadder: "A pool worse than a pool worse than death? That's pretty bad."

In Galway, Gloucester won for the first time in five matches, beating the even-more-hapless Connacht – no wins in nine – 14-10. Freddie Burns kicked three penalties and James Simpson-Daniel scored a try. Gavin Duffy scored for Connacht and Niall O'Connor kicked a conversion and a penalty.

Gloucester are nominally still in the running in Pool Six, although Harlequins and Toulouse are unlikely to be caught. Connacht's losing bonus was their first point ever in the Heineken Cup.

Gloucester's head coach, Bryan Redpath, said: "We knew it was going to be tough, a three- to five-point game, but I thought we were the dominant side, particularly in the set piece. After the six weeks we have had, hopefully that can turn around the season for us."

In Pool Two, London Irish, another Aviva Premiership side beaten twice already, gave themselves a rather slender lifeline with a 34-14, bonus-point-enhanced victory in Paris against Racing Métro. Jonathan Spratt, Joe Ansbro and Adam Thompstone (twice) scored tries for the Exiles, Adrian Jarvis kicked 11 points and Delon Armitage three. Sireli Bobo scored Racing's try, Gaëtan Germain kicked two penalties and Jonathan Wisniewski dropped a goal.

Irish's Toby Booth, who is occasionally spoken about by more daring souls as an England coach of the not too distant future, said: "I couldn't have asked for more. To go up against a French institution like Racing – with the budget, resources and quality of players they have – and to win is a great result. It's something we can hang our hat on."

In Port Elizabeth, New Zealand won the South African leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series, beating South Africa 31-26 in the final.