7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
Sale Sharks kept themselves in the hunt for an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final place with this impressive Pool 5 victory over French side Agen at Edgeley Park yesterday.
The Premiership side's bonus point victory puts them in second place behind leaders Brive, who have won all four of their Pool games so far, and their home clash with the French side in the last Pool fixture already has the look of a group decider.
Both fly-halves, Valentin Courrent and Nick McLeod, swapped early penalties to make it 6-all midway through the first half before the home side took advantage of a yellow card shown to Agen lockl Damien Lagrange.
The Sharks made their one-man advantage count in emphatic fashion with two quick tries by Tom Brady and skipper David Seymour to stretch their lead to 20-6 after half and hour of the first half.
Fly-half Courrent steadied the ship with his third penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 20-9 to the Sharks. After the break, Brady crossed for his second try before scrum half, Cillian Williams, scored the home side's fourth try for the vital bonus point.
Agen's replacement centre, Jamie Robinson, the former Welsh international, and Tongan No 8 Opeti Fonua then scored a try each for the visitors to close the gap but a late try by Scott Mathie proved enough for a Sale win.
Newport Gwent Dragons 19 Exeter Chiefs 23 (Pool 4)
Exeter Chiefs produced a ferocious second-half comeback to complete an Amlin Challenge Cup double over Newport Gwent Dragons and surged back to the top of Pool Four.
Rob Baxter's men trailed 16-6 at the interval following a stunning try from Toby Faletau.
But with super-sub Gareth Steenson back at the helm Exeter edged to a hard-fought win thanks to tries from Simon Alcott and James Phillips at a bitterly cold Rodney Parade.
Baxter made just four changes to the side that triumphed 18-6 last weekend at Sandy Park and issued a message of "more of the same."
While the Dragons made five changes to the side that fell to an 18-6 defeat at Sandy Park with Wales wing Aled Brew and Jason Tovey returning to the starting line-up.
Head coach Darren Edwards was disappointed with the defeat in Devon, which saw Exeter climb to the top of Pool Four, and urged his side to come out firing in this must win game.
They made the perfect start with Tovey slotted a penalty on six minutes before Mieres opened his account to level the scores following a sustained period of pressure.
Tovey landed his second penalty on 16 minutes but again it was almost instantly nullified thanks to the boot of Mieres.
Exeter were dealt a blow when Simon Alcott was fortunate to be shown yellow for what appeared a tip-tackle. The Dragons quickly made their numerical advantage count as Tovey added a third penalty to restore the hosts' lead.
Mieres, the Dragons slayer last week, had the opportunity to tie the scores once again on 37 minutes but was off target. And he was punished for his inaccuracy when the Welsh region surged the length of the pitch to score a breathtaking try.
Wales World Cup star Toby Faletau made a trademark burst from inside his own twenty-two and found Tovey in support. The fly-half tore down the left and fed Brew who then flicked an inside ball back to Faletau to score. Tovey made no mistake adding the extras to give the hosts a 16- 6 halftime lead.
Whatever Rob Baxter said in the Exeter changing room at the interval appeared to do the trick and they got their first try after Alcott rumbled over.
Steenson, on for Mieres slotted the conversion to bring the Chiefs within three points but Tovey quickly added a penalty to bring the scores to 19-13.
Steenson continued to chip away at the hosts' lead as Exeter's comeback continued. The Dragons struggled to live with the visitors physicality in the final quarter and Exeter got their reward with just minutes to spare as Phillips dived over to snatch the victory.