McCalman and Barnes claim Japanese title

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman
Barely a month has gone by in 2016 but two capped Wallabies already have some silverware in their cabinet, after the Panasonic Wild Knights won a third straight Japanese Top League title on the weekend.

Former Wallabies back Berrick Barnes didn’t play quite the role he would have imagined in the thrilling 27-26 victory over Toshiba Brave Lupus, playing just the final five minutes off the bench.

Barnes, a multiple league MVP, had missed the previous two matches with injury, replaced by Kiwi Hayden Parker who booted 28 from 28 over his starting stints 

Wallabies backrower Ben McCalman did not make it on in the final, watching on as South African Francois Steyn had a chance to win the game for Toshiba in the 83rd minute after a last-gasp try.

The Springbok missed the shot, though, handing the Wild Knights the narrowest of victories and continuing an extraordinary season of Japanese Rugby.

Panasonic Wildknights claim the 2015-2016 Japan Top League Title

At the other end of the scale, a handful of Aussies will feature in one more game this season, with next weekend's relegation playoffs to decide the make up of the 2016-17 Top League.

Bernard Foley's Ricoh Black Rams will play the Police, Nick Cummins's Coca-Cola West Red Sparks play Kyuden, Sam Norton-Knight's NEC Green Rockets face Mitsubishi and Sanix clashes with the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

The winners take top flight status.

Champions Cup
Bordeaux has made the Champions Cup quarter-finals in unbelievable circumstances, beating Clermont 37-28 overnight.

Clermont needed just one losing bonus point from the match to qualify for the knock out stages and were awarded a penalty in the shadows of full-time but opted against taking a shot at goal.

With top spot on the line, Clermont rolled the dice and were ultimately held up over the line in the final minute, leaving them short of the sole competition point required to secure their final eight spot.

Those three points would have been enough to give them the bonus point for losing by fewer than seven points.

Instead, Bordeaux finished with a nine-point win putting them in the second quarter-final spot, with head-to-head records splitting the two teams.

Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu started in the extraordinary match but had a mixed night, with Clermont scoring its third try after Kepu was handed a yellow card.

Stade Francais sewed up its first Champions Cup quarter-final appearance since 2010 with a 36-21 win over Leicester.

Wallabies halfback Will Genia missed the game for Stade, a win that ended Leicester’s unbeaten run in the tournament.

Capped Wallabies winger Peter Betham played the final half hour for the Tigers, coming off the bench.

Lock Mark Chisholm was injected into Munster’s 28-5 win over Benetton Treviso in the final 13 minutes.