O'Gara helps Munster scramble to victory over Bourgoin

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The Independent Online

Munster, the Heineken Cup holders, clawed their way to a 30-27 win over Bourgoin in Geneva yesterday to regain top spot in Pool Four. The Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara landed six out of seven kicks at goal in a match that saw Bourgoin pick up their first points of the tournament by scoring four tries and losing by less than seven points.

Leicester must now beat Munster in Limerick on Saturday to win the group, though were they to draw and gain a try-scoring bonus point they would finish as one of the best runners-up and gain a place in the last eight by a different route. The Tigers' task is daunting either way - Munster have never lost a European match at Thomond Park.

Bourgoin made Munster fight for victory and after an hour the sides were level at 20-20. The Tongan centre Lifeimi Mafi scoredhis first European try and Munster's third of the match in the 66th minute. O'Gara converted and his third penalty edged them further away, but Matthieu Nicolas scored a 75th-minute try, his second of the game, to ensure a nervous finale.

On Saturday, Castres picked up maximum points in a 40-21 win at Treviso to set up a winner-takes-all match at home to Wasps in Pool One. The English side head the table by four points but need a point on Saturday to guarantee a quarter-final place.

Leinster, the leaders of Pool Two, blasted past Edinburgh 49-10 to put themselves into an uncatchable position.

Sale kept alive their hopes of qualification from Pool Three with a 29-11 win at Calvisano. The Sharks' Spanish wing, Oriol Ripol, scored two tries, with Chris Mayor and Ben Foden also touching down. The victory, which puts the Guinness Premiership champions in second place, behind Stade Français, came at a price.

Sale lost their No 8, Nathan Bonner-Evans, to a leg injury that renders him doubtful for this Saturday's match against the Ospreys at Edgeley Park.

In the European Challenge Cup, Saracens surged four points clear in Pool Two after a comprehensive, seven-try, 47-20 demolition of the French club Narbonne at Vicarage Road yesterday. The Argentine wing Tomas de Vedia scored four tries.