Wallabies Abroad: McCalman on track for title

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Ben McCalman and the Panasonic Wild Knights remain on track for a Top League title after a big quarter-final win on Saturday.

The Wild Knights, vying for a third straight title, had a comfortable 46-6 final eight victory over the Canon Eagles.

McCalman played the final 12 minutes of the play-off match, coming off the bench with the game already well in the Wild Knights’ control.

Usual starting flyhalf Berrick Barnes missed the match with a hamstring strain and his replacement Hayden Parker won man of the match honours.

The Wild Knights will face the Kobelco Steelers in their semi-final clash next Saturday.

The results were mixed for Aussies in the bottom half of the playoffs, with sides playing for final rankings.

Digby Ioane’s Honda Heat managed to hold off the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, 23-20, keeping them in contention for ninth spot in their first season as a promoted side.

Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley had another tough day with the Ricoh Black Rams, with the side losing to Mark Gerrard’s Toyota Industries Shuttles.

Foley converted the Black Rams’ first try, in the 36th minute, but four Shuttles second half tries ended the Black Rams chances of victory.

The 26-year-old was replaced in the 56th minute of the match.

Gerrard scored one of those for the Shuttles in the 57th minute and finished with 12 points overall, before being replaced in the 62nd minute.

The Shuttles remain in the running for 11th spot, while the Black Rams’ best hope is 13th.

It was a tough day for former Wallabies winger Nick Cummins and the Coca Cola Red Sparks, who went to the Suntory Sungoliaths 52-7.

Cummins was replaced with 22 minutes to go in the second half.

The Red Sparks will play the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes next Saturday, with 13th their best possible finish.

CHAMPIONS CUP

Bordeaux’s chances of a Champions Cup quarter-final berth fell further after a 28-10 loss to Clermont on Friday night.

Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu played 53 minutes in the loss, while his national and club teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper missed the game.

The loss leaves Bordeaux on the bottom of their Champions Cup pool, with two rounds left to play.

Reigning Top 14 champions Stade Francais are still in contention for a Champions Cup knockout spot after their 27-17 win over Munster.

Wallabies halfback Will Genia missed the match for the Parisians.

The win puts them second in their Cup pool, two games clear of Munster and in line for a knock out berth.

Taqele Naiyaravoro’s Glasgow Warriors went down to Racing 92 on Sunday morning (AEDT), 28-10.

The Warriors are third in their Champions Cup Pool, just one point behind second-placed Northampton Saints.

Toulon faces Bath on Monday morning (AEDT) without playmaker Matt Giteau, who will miss three weeks with a groin injury.

Giteau will be replaced by Quade Cooper in the Champions Cup match.

PREMIERSHIP

Former Wallabies captain James Horwill finished with a yellow card and a game-sealing try as the Harlequins defeated Saracens 29-23.

Horwill redeemed himself after the early infringement by sealing the game with a try in the final minute, when the Quins were leading by one point.

Harlequins went into the match against the reigning premiers with a major challenge on their hands but the win will put their opponents on notice.

Winger Peter Betham helped snatch a narrow Leicester win on Sunday morning (AEDT), with the Tigers finishing 30-27 winners over Northampton Saints.

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