EUROPEAN RUGBY: Exeter win in Bordeaux to give Ulster further incentive in Pool Five

European Champions Cup Rugby
European Champions Cup Rugby


Bordeaux suffered a rare home defeat to Exeter Chiefs in an exciting Pool Five encounter.

A win for Bordeaux, who had won at Exeter last weekend, would have put them top of the table ahead of Sunday’s game between Clermont and Ulster.

But Exeter dug in and after Bordeaux had gone down to 14-men on the hour mark, got their noses in front and pressed on for a deserved win.

Bordeaux remain in second place, but it means Ulster could go top of the table if they won in Clermont on Sunday and did not give the French side any match points.

Ulster won a nine-try thriller in Belfast last weekend 39-32, but Clermont have only lost once at home in Europe in recent years.

Franco van der Merwe returned to the Ulster starting line-up in the only change made to last week’s starting team.

Meanwhile, Sale Sharks will parade new signing Denny Solomona on Sunday when they look to halt Saracens’ march towards equalling a European rugby record.

Super League club Castleford this week responded to Sale’s signing of the winger by issuing High Court proceedings for damages against Solomona.

Castleford are also seeking damages against Sale and Solomona’s agent Andy Clarke for allegedly inducing a breach of contract.

Sale confirmed on Tuesday that prolfic try-scorer Solomona had signed a three-year contract with them, despite still having two years left on his Tigers deal.

And it could prove a baptism of fire for him in the European Champions Cup as Sale host a Saracens side currently clear as Pool Three leaders and needing one more win to equal Munster’s record of 13 successive European victories.

Saracens destroyed Sale 50-3 at Allianz Park last weekend and, although the Sharks have home advantage this time around, it promises to be another considerable challenge.

If Saracens win - and the Scarlets beat French heavyweights Toulon in west Wales on Sunday - then the reigning European champions will have one foot in the quarter-finals.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has made five changes from the side beaten in Toulon last weekend, including starts for props Rob Evans and Samson Lee, plus back-row pair Aaron Shingler and Will Boyde.

Pivac said: “We know what is ahead of us. You don’t get to play these sides that often, and when you do it’s a great challenge. The players love these fixtures.

“To have a side like Toulon at home is going to be great. We would like to right the wrongs of last week.

“At times, I felt we were unlucky in that game. We know what to expect now. For us, it’s about getting a good start, not lagging behind like we did out there.

“If we get a good start, I think the self-belief will be there and it could be a hell of a day at the office. We are looking forward to it.

“It is an exciting challenge. The players are looking forward to it because they get to test themselves against some of the best players in the world that they don’t get to play against that often.”