Neath kept alive their slim hopes of success in Pool One of the Heineken Cup by avenging last weekend's surprise defeat in Italy with a 56-10 victory over Amatori & Calvisano at the Gnoll yesterday.
Flanker Steve Tandy helped himself to a hat-trick of tries and there was also a brace from wing Kevin James. Neath's other touchdowns came via Shaun Connor, Adrian Durston, Steve Jones and a penalty try while the normally prolific Lee Jarvis landed only four of his nine conversion attempts and one penalty.
Neath, who must win their two remaining pool games in January – at home to Béziers and away to the holders Leicester – to have any chance of reaching the quarter-finals, ran away with the game after half-time. But the Italians gave a good account of themselves in the first half and only trailed 18-10 at the interval. Their try came from Fijian wing Apenisa Tuta Vodo and 21-year-old fly-half Vincenzo Zullo landed a conversion and a penalty.
A dramatic fightback by Ulster narrowly failed to upset the French champions Biarritz in Pool Six. The home side had dominated the game for an hour, but came close to throwing it away when Ulster stormed back with late tries by Jan Cunningham and Andy Ward, who had earlier been sin-binned. In the end, the 1999 winners could not sustain their rally and Biarritz edged through 25-20 to take a two-point lead in the group.
Ulster, who were already without Ryan Constable, Shane Stewart, Tyrone Howe, Paddy Wallace and David Humphreys, lost centre Jonathan Bell in the first minute with a hand injury.
John Isaac, David Couzinet and Jean-Emmanuel Cassin went over for Biarritz with the former Gloucester scrum-half Dmitri Yachvili kicking two conversions and two penalties. Neil Doak replied with two conversions and two penalties for Ulster.
Northampton, who lifted the trophy in 2000, hope to overhaul Biarritz at the top of the table when they visit Cardiff this afternoon. Having beaten the Welsh side 25-11 last weekend, Saints welcome back the Lions prop Tom Smith, who was dropped last week for missing a team meeting, while the Spanish wing Oriol Ripol replaces Jon Sleightholme. Cardiff, winless in Europe this term, have internationals Rhys Williams, Martyn Williams and Andrew Lewis out injured.
Bristol and Swansea meet at the Memorial Stadium today, but time is running out for both clubs in Pool Four where Leinster have a stranglehold. London Irish, who play host to Newport in the Madejski Stadium, are in a similar position with Toulouse set to consolidate their lead in Pool Five at home to Edinburgh.
England made a quarter-final exit from the Emirates South African Sevens in George when they lost 19-7 to New Zealand. The Kiwis eventually lost the final 24-14 to Fiji.
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