Gloucester take shine off Glasgow success with comprehensive victory over pool winners Biarritz

GLASGOW'S hopes of a strong finish in the Heineken Cup took a severe blow, just 24 hours after their victory over Newport Gwent Dragons, when they were overtaken for second spot in Pool 2 by a fired-up Gloucester side.

Biarritz had already secured a quarter-final place but they were comprehensively outplayed by the English club, who won 23-8 at Kingsholm, with Scotland loose-head prop Alasdair Dickinson in fine form.

The French team cannot be caught in Pool 2 but Gloucester have kept themselves in the best runner-up contest. At the very least they should have a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup which goes to three of the second-placed pool teams.

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Munster ran in six tries to comfortably beat Treviso 44-7 in their Pool 1 encounter at Stadio Comunale di Monigo. Keith Earls touched down in either half while Denis Hurley, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul Warwick and Donnacha Ryan also scored. Ronan O'Gara added 12 points in an emphatic victory.

Alessandro Zanni grabbed an interception score but the Italian champions never looked likely to win this one. The result leaves Munster seven points clear at the top of Pool 1, ahead of Northampton who play Perpignan today.

It was all change at the top of Pool 3, as Leicester's 47-8 victory over Viadana at Wellford Road saw them moving into top spot, ahead of Ospreys and Clermont Auvergne, who drew level with the Welsh outfit after winning 27-7 in France.

Scott Hamilton was again Viadana's nemesis as Leicester kept their Heineken Cup aspirations alive. But flanker Tom Croft was carried off the field after 27 minutes with a knee injury that threatens his Six Nations hopes. Full-back Hamilton scored a hat-trick when Leicester crushed the same opponents 46-11 in Italy last year, and his two strikes at Welford Road yesterday included the fourth try which ensured a maximum five-point haul.

The Ospreys qualification hopes in the hang in the balance following a humbling defeat to Clermont Auvergne.

Julien Malzieu and Napolioni Nalaga grabbed second-half tries for the French outfit in an intense contest at the vociferous Stade Marcel Michelin.

Sale's quarter-final hopes were left hanging by a thread after they were battered into submission by the Blues, who won 36-19 in Cardiff in Pool 5.

Touchdowns from scrum-half Richie Rees, lock Bradley Davies and No 8 Xavier Rush together with 18 points from an immaculate Ben Blair did for Sale. A bonus-point victory over already-eliminated Harlequins in France today would be enough for French giants Toulouse to win the group a week inside the distance.

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Leinster moved into pole position in Pool 6 as Brian O'Driscoll bagged a last-minute bonus point as they overcame a stubborn Brive side 27-10 at the RDS.

A lack of game-time over the festive period, with their two Magners League fixtures being postponed, left the reigning Heineken Cup champions with a far from ideal run-in to this tie.

But despite obvious rustiness and a scrappy all-round display, Michael Cheika's men showed enough glimpses of class – including Shane Horgan's sublime offload for O'Driscoll's score – to seal a deserved fourth pool win.

The result moved the Irish province five points clear at the top of Pool 6, putting the pressure back on nearest rivals London Irish who are away to the Scarlets today before hosting Leinster in a likely pool decider at Twickenham.