Saints end unbeaten Leinster record

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: George North bursts clear to score the opening try George North bursts clear to score the opening try

Leinster surrendered their unbeaten record in this season's Heineken Cup as Northampton Saints won a low-scoring but absorbing contest 18-9 at the Aviva Stadium.

Tries from George North and Jamie Elliott bookended this fourth round clash, as Jim Mallinder's men recovered resoundingly from last week's 40-point hammering from the Irish province.

England fly-half Owen Farrell inspired Saracens to keep up the pressure at the top of Pool 3, inspiring his side to a 64-7 mauling of basement-boys Zebre.

Mark McCall's men scored nine tries - Duncan Taylor touching down twice - as Saracens ensured qualification in Pool 3 will go down to the wire after Christmas by taking maximum points.

Defending champions Toulon regained their place at the top of Pool Two as two tries from wing Dave Smith set them on their way to a 32-20 bonus-point win over Exeter Chiefs.

The Chiefs had got close to capturing their biggest ever scalp in the first of the back-to-back pool matches at Sandy Park last weekend, eventually going down 14-9, and they battled long and hard to stay in the fight in the south of France.

A last-gasp try from JJ Hanrahan gave Munster an 18-17 victory after yet another thrilling finish against Perpignan.

With the clock already in the red at the Stade Aime Giral, Hanrahan produced a stunning sidestep 25 metres out and touched down out wide to hand the 2006 and 2008 champions their third win in four pool games.

Italian international Tommaso Benvenuti looked to have dealt Munster's hopes of a third Heineken Cup crown a heavy blow when he crossed with less than two minutes remaining but Rob Penney's men kept the ball alive from the restart, with Denis Hurley and Tommy O'Donnell setting up Hanrahan's heroics.

French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne tightened their grip on Pool Four after completing a 31-13 victory over Scarlets - who are now facing a pool stage exit for the sixth successive European campaign.

Clermont, bonus point victors over the Welsh team last weekend, repeated that feat after refusing to be blown off a quarter-final course in wet and windy Llanelli as wing Napolioni Nalaga's double and Fritz Lee's touchdown complemented a 60th-minute penalty try.

Mike Delany kicked a penalty and conversion, while Brock James added three conversions for the bonus-point victory.

Scarlets did not score a second-half point after leading 13-10 at the break through centre Gareth Maule's try, plus eight points from fly-half Rhys Priestland's boot.

Maxime Medard's two first-half tries set Toulouse on the way to a 37-9 victory and a bonus point from their clash with Connacht at the Sportsground.

Guy Noves' star-studded side avenged last Sunday's shock reversal at home against the same opponents, with Medard, Christopher Tolofua, man of the match Louis Picamoles and replacement Gael Fickou all crossing the whitewash in Galway.

Tolofua crashed over late in the first half to leave Connacht 22-9 behind at half-time, the province's only points coming from the boot of out-half Dan Parks, who kicked a penalty and two drop goals.

A neat lineout move put Picamoles through for his try early in the second half, and with Connacht unable to respond Lionel Beauxis added another penalty and converted Fickou's closing effort for a 12-point personal haul.

Ulster surged further ahead at the top of Pool Five after they secured maximum points from a 35-3 victory over Benetton Treviso at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo on Saturday afternoon.

The 1999 Heineken Cup winners scored four tries to claim a bonus point against the Italians for the second week running following the 48-0 thrashing in Belfast seven days ago.

Second-half scores from Craig Gilroy, Robbie Diack and Jared Payne accompanied a late first-half effort from Luke Marshall as Ulster made it four wins from four games following earlier successes against Leicester Tigers and Montpellier.

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