Rugby round-up: Cipriani helps Rebels further their cause in victory over Tonga

In Australia yesterday, Danny Cipriani started for the Melbourne Rebels in their first game, against Tonga in a warm-up for the Super 15. The sometime Wasps and England fly-half played the first half of a match that was won by the Rebels, 43-13, after they had been 13-12 down at the break. Cipriani was seen to apply ice to his knee after leaving the field.

"The conditions out here are different," said Cipriani. "The ground is hard and fast and that suits my style of play."

The centre Afusipa Taumoepeau scored the first try in Rebels history and they scored seven to one in all, the former league back Cooper Vuna scoring a hat-trick. The match was played at Olympic Park in Melbourne; a second fixture against Tonga, on Thursday, will be played in Morwell. In the Super 15 the Rebels will occupy the new Aami Stadium, starting against the New South Wales Waratahs on Friday 18 February.

Leinster 43-20 Saracens

In the Heineken Cup, the Wales centre Gavin Henson suffered a calf injury as Saracens lost in Dublin. Henson, who is hoping to play in the Six Nations, will have a scan on his return to London. Leinster are through to the quarter-finals; who they play will be determined next week, when they are away to Racing Métro 92. Northampton and Toulouse are favourites for the top two seedings but Leinster could secure a home draw.

Leinster scored six tries to Saracens' three in an entertaining game. Fergus McFadden, Isa Nacewa, Sean O'Brien, Eoin O'Malley and Dominic Ryan (twice) scored Leinster's tries, with Jonny Sexton kicking five conversions and a penalty. Kelly Brown, Nils Mordt and James Short scored tries for Saracens and Owen Farrell kicked aconversion and a penalty.

Ulster 9-6 Biarritz

Ian Humphreys kicked Ulster to the brink of their first Heineken Cup quarter-final since they won the competition in 1999. The fly-half's three penalties outweighed two from Dimitri Yachvili in the rain at Ravenhill. The two sides are level at the top of Pool Four, because Biarritz have taken four more bonus points. Ulster are away to Aironi next week and Biarritz are at home to Bath.



Bath 55-16 Aironi

Matt Banahan scored four tries in a match between two sides with no chance of making the quarter-finals. Tom Biggs and Luke Watson scored two tries each and Olly Barkley kicked six conversions and a penalty. Josh Sole scored a try for Aironi and James Marshall kicked 11 points.

Toulouse 17-3 Newport Gwent Dragons

Toulouse stayed top of Pool Six with an unconvincing win against the Welsh region. Thierry Dusautoir scored two tries and Vincent Clerc one for the holders, who had lost 31-3 to Stade Français in a French league match the week before. David Skrela kicked a conversion for Toulouse; Jason Tovey kicked a penalty for the Dragons.

If Wasps beat Glasgow away today the pool will be decided by their match against Toulouse at Adams Park next weekend.

Benetton Treviso 9-44 Perpignan

In Pool Five, Perpignan are close to a place in the last eight after scoring five tries in Italy. Julien Candelon scored two tries and Farid Sid, Grégory le Corvec and Nicolas Laharrague also scored; Laharrague kicked one conversion and Jérôme Porical kicked four, as well as three penalties. Willem de Waal kicked three penalties for Treviso.

A win over the Scarlets at home next weekend should be enough for the Catalans to make it through.

Amlin Challenge Cup

Harlequins and Gloucester won in Italy, Quins beating I Cavalieri Prato 48-16 and the Cherry and Whites beating Rovigo 55-7. Exeter beat Bourgoin 17-6 at home.

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