Scarlets turned on the style in the final half hour to avoid an upset against Southern Kings, while Cardiff Blues fought back to defeat Benetton Treviso 34-24 in Pro14 on Sunday.

After being edged out by Edinburgh last time out, Scarlets found themselves trailing 17-12 to a Kings side with just one win to their name this season.

However, Ryan Conbeer converted his own try in the 51st minute and further scores from Uzair Cassiem, Dan Jones and Tom Rogers – on his first Pro14 home start – earned a 36-17 win at Parc y Scarlets.

The Blues were in a perilous position at half-time as tries from Ian Keatley, Irne Herbst and Toa Halafihi helped Treviso into a 19-7 lead – Jason Harries' providing the sole reply from Cardiff.

Garyn Smith and Ryan Edwards tries – the second of which was converted – levelled things up and, although Halafihi's second briefly put Treviso back ahead, Seb Davies and Lewis Jones crossed and Jason Tovey kicked five more points to seal the points for the Blues.

Patricio Fernandez kicked 19 points as Lyon battled to a 29-20 victory over Racing 92 in the Top 14 on Sunday.

Second-place Lyon responded to losing a top-of-the-table clash to Bordeaux Begles last time out, with Fernandez chosen to play at fly-half in place of Jonathan Wisniewski in response to that defeat.

The number 10 slotted five penalties and added the extras to tries from Xavier Mignot and Baptiste Couilloud to justify that decision, with Lyon now four points behind Bordeaux.

Racing made life difficult for the hosts at the Stade de Gerland and took the lead when Yoan Tanga Mangene went over after 20 minutes, while Francois Trinh Duc's score set up a frantic finish before Fernandez's three-pointer four minutes from the end.

Last season's champions Toulouse outclassed Montpellier 25-7 at home in Sunday's other fixture.

Zack Holmes, Pierre Pages, Lucas Tauzin and Matthis Lebel all grabbed tries for the home side, with Nemani Nadolo responding for Montpellier.

Owen Farrell insists England's rip-roaring start in their Six Nations win over Ireland was not a response to any outside pressure.

England began their campaign with a poor showing in a defeat against France in Paris before grinding out a victory over Scotland amid tough Edinburgh conditions in round two.

Back at Twickenham against an Ireland side who had started with two wins from two, England earned a deserved 24-12 triumph over a visiting team coached by Farrell's father Andy.

Eddie Jones' men had come under scrutiny following a mixed start, while the head coach was initially questioned and subsequently vindicated for his decision to move centre Jonathan Joseph to the wing and continue with flanker Tom Curry at number eight.

"It's pressure from everybody else, not us," England captain Farrell said when asked about the outside voices.

"We're unbelievably happy with how things are in-house. We feel we are getting better and couldn't wait to play this game.

"I think you saw that from the way we started the game. It's nothing to do with anyone on the outside. We are giving ourselves lots of confidence to rip in come kick-off."

England were boosted by the return of powerhouse centre Manu Tuilagi, a player Farrell feels would make a difference to any team in world rugby.

"You don't need me to tell you [how important he is]," Farrell added.

"Any team in the world would want him by your side, we're lucky to have him. He's playing brilliant rugby."

England led 17-0 at the break with George Ford and Elliot Daly the beneficiaries of some shoddy Ireland defending, while Luke Cowan-Dickie touched down from an England drive in the second half.

Part of England's success owed to their dominance of the forwards, with the returning Courtney Lawes earning the man-of-the-match award.

"We knew Ireland were on good form and we came out flying, we put an emphasis on that all week. It was great to get out here with the boys," Lawes said.

"Any chance I get to put on the shirt, especially at my old age, I relish it. We just want to keep building, the goal is to be the best team the world has ever seen."

Andy Farrell shouldered the burden of blame for Ireland's Six Nations loss to England as his side were outplayed at Twickenham on Sunday. 

Ireland's hopes of a Grand Slam, following back-to-back wins over Scotland and Wales, were dashed as Eddie Jones' men ran out deserved 24-12 winners.

The visitors were up against it from the moment George Ford capitalised on Johnny Sexton's error to score the opening try after seven minutes, with the Ireland fly-half enduring a rare off-day.

Sexton's error-strewn display, which included two woefully miscued penalty attempts, summed up Ireland's afternoon as Farrell's charges came up well short.

"Disappointing. I think the scoreline flattered us a little bit," Farrell told BBC Sport after seeing Andrew Porter's last-gasp converted score narrow the gap.

"We started firing a few shots when the game was over and that's not what we want to do.

"I think it was a knock-on effect of cumulative errors. The opposition had something to do with it obviously, they played really well.

"They played like a side that was desperate to stay in the competition, so fair play to England for that. But we'll look at ourselves for the reasons we allowed them to play the game they wanted to play.

"First and foremost, I look at myself. Why were England up for it, winning the physical edge? That's down to myself.

"The reality is the last try at the end allows the points difference not to be too bad and we're in the competition.

"We go into the Italy game knowing what we've got to do. If we perform like we want to in that game we'll take it to the last weekend."

A strangely out of sorts Sexton admitted Ireland had nowhere to hide after a lacklustre showing.

"We gave a very good team two tries from our mistakes, not covering the chip kick, and then we didn't take our chances," he said.

"We were getting the ball on the back foot, trying to get to the edges and we couldn't, looked a bit silly at times.

"We still have a big home game against Italy and if we can do that we still have a championship to play for.

"We need to be a bit better, not play in certain areas of the field when we are going backwards."

England put themselves firmly in the hunt for the Six Nations title and ended Ireland's Grand Slam dream with a 24-12 victory at Twickenham.

Coach Eddie Jones had thrown a curveball with his team selection, in particular the decision to deploy Jonathan Joseph on the wing, but few were left questioning his wisdom at full-time.

With France having beaten reigning champions Wales on Saturday to pile the pressure on both of these teams, it was the hosts – winners over Scotland in atrocious conditions last time out – who responded in style on Sunday to fuel their ambitions.

Ireland coach Andy Farrell will have had his sights set on a clean sweep of victories in the championship after wins over Scotland and Wales, but those hopes were dashed by a team starring his son Owen.

George Ford's early try, facilitated by a Johnny Sexton error that characterised a rare off day for the fly-half, set the tone, with Elliot Daly touching down in not dissimilar circumstances before the break.

Robbie Henshaw darted over in the second half but any prospect of an Ireland comeback was ended when Luke Cowan-Dickie's converted try restored England's advantage, rendering Andrew Porter's stoppage-time score a mere consolation.

England, whose only Six Nations loss at Twickenham in the last 19 matches came against Ireland in 2018, started with remarkable intensity and soon got their reward.

Sexton, who later badly fluffed his lines from a penalty, fumbled from Ben Youngs' grubber kick and Ford was on hand to gather the loose ball and touch down.

Daly was similarly alert to get on the end of Ford's searching kick as Jacob Stockdale was caught off guard, while Owen Farrell added six first-half points with the boot to leave Ireland with a mountain to climb as, in 21 matches between the nations in this competition, no side had ever overcome a half-time deficit to win.

Ireland did prove far more determined after the break and Henshaw broke through the line to cap a prolonged spell of pressure, but Sexton's kick was again wayward.

Sensing the job was not yet done, England attacked with renewed vigour and Cowan-Dickie was the beneficiary of some excellent forward play as he crossed the line and Owen Farrell added the extras, with John Cooney doing likewise after Porter's last-gasp try.

Flying start sets the tone for England

It was a painfully slow start that cost England so badly in the opening defeat to France, but there was no sign of any such complacency on this occasion.

England were up and at Ireland from the first whistle and, after their initial momentum was halted by a fumble from the otherwise outstanding Courtney Lawes, the hosts were quickly on the front foot again, opening the scoring via a combination of the quick-thinking Youngs ​– making his 100th Test appearance – the ever-alert Ford, and the unusually flustered Sexton.

Sorry Sexton human after all

He is one of the very best in world rugby, but that does not mean Sexton is immune to error. He demonstrated that twice in the opening quarter of an hour, which proved a microcosm of the whole contest.

First he treated Youngs' kick through the middle like a hot potato, eventually palming it to the grateful Ford, then he shanked a three-pointer from the tee in a manner quite unbecoming. Another miscue followed in the second half to compound Sexton's woes.

What's next?

England welcome Wales to west London in round four on March 7, while Ireland return to Dublin to host whipping boys Italy on the same day. 

Tom Hendrickson grabbed two tries as rampant Exeter beat Northampton 57-7 to pull eight points clear at the top of the Premiership.

Northampton arrived at Sandy Park with their hopes of being involved in a battle for first place possibly hinging on the outcome, and the thumping nature of their defeat was painful for Saints.

Hosts Exeter could not breach the try-line in the opening half-hour, having just a penalty from Joe Simmonds to show for their initial endeavours.

Jonny Hill, Elvis Taione and Jannes Kirsten then crossed in quick succession to put the Chiefs in charge by the break, building a 22-0 lead after taking advantage of a yellow card for Tom Collins.

Hendrickson went over twice in the second half, with Ben Moon, Tom O'Flaherty and Sam Simmonds taking the home side's try count to eight.

James Grayson dotted down a consolation for Northampton, who now sit fourth, nine points adrift of Exeter, with their points difference having taken a battering.

Bristol jumped above Northampton into third place after a 13-10 home win over Worcester.

Eight points from the boot of Callum Sheedy and a Luke Morahan try gave the Bears their narrow win.

Nick David's try early in the second half for Warriors, converted by Duncan Weir, and a penalty from Scott van Breda kept it tight.

However, Sheedy's second penalty of the game in the 69th minute proved to be the match-winner, leaving Worcester down in 10th place.

Geoffrey Cros grabbed a double as Top 14 leaders Bordeaux Begles beat Clermont Auvergne 31-22 to go eight points clear after Toulon were beaten at La Rochelle on Saturday.

Versatile back Cros scored a try in each half at Stade Marcel-Michelin, where Remi Lamerat also crossed in the first half and Jules Gimbert touched down to give Bordeaux breathing space late on.

Seta Tamanivalu's yellow card, which resulted in Morgan Parra slotting over a fifth penalty, set up a tense final but Gimbert's score ensured Bordeaux took maximum points.

Clermont led 19-14 at half-time courtesy of 14 points from the boot of Parra and a Paul Jedrasiak try, yet they were unable to finish off the job and sit in sixth place.

La Rochelle leapfrogged Toulon to go third with a 17-12 victory at Stade Marcel Deflandre.

Struggling Stade Francais had claimed a surprise win over La Rochelle last weekend, but Arthur Retiere scored the only try of the game in the second half and Jules Plisson landed four first-half penalties to get them back on track.

Pau dropped to the foot of the table after slumping to a 26-16 loss at Castres despite Mathieu Babillot's red card, while Loris Tolot claimed a brace of tries as Agen moved off the bottom with a 30-16 win at Brive.

Stade were brought back down to earth after their victory at La Rochelle, going down to a 28-17 defeat at Bayonne to sit second-bottom, with Agen rising two places.

Ulster and Glasgow Warriors both claimed victories on Saturday to keep themselves in pole position for a place in the Pro14 play-off quarter-finals.

Second in Conference A, Ulster bounced back from an away defeat at Ospreys last time out as they ran out 20-10 winners over Cheetahs.

Tries from Tom O'Toole and Robert Baloucoune proved enough for Ulster to claim their eighth win of the season and maintain their unbeaten run at home in all competitions this campaign.

Clayton Blommetjies drove over for Cheetahs with 15 minutes remaining, but the visitors did not have enough to set up a grandstand finish.

Glasgow, meanwhile, moved up to third in Conference A with a 30-19 comeback victory over Dragons, who took the lead through a Rhodri Williams try in the first minute.

The Warriors swiftly hit back via Tim Swinson and Grant Stewart to take a 10-point lead into the break.

Williams got his second for Dragons while Stewart doubled his tally for the home side and Huw Jones secured the bonus point after being dropped by Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.

Ashton Hewitt's try brought Dragons back into contention but Mesu Dolokoto's late score made sure of a third straight win for Glasgow.

Wayne Pivac was unimpressed with the officiating after Wales suffered a narrow defeat to France that leaves the defending champions with only a slim chance of retaining their Six Nations title.

Romain Ntamack was the star of the show as Les Bleus ended a 10-year wait for a victory in Cardiff, winning a thriller 27-23 on Saturday.

Ntamack scored 17 points in a fly-half masterclass at the Principality Stadium for a France side that have won three out of three this year, putting them on track for a first Six Nations crown in a decade.

However, Wales felt they should have been awarded a penalty try by referee Matthew Carley for what they saw as a deliberate knock-on by Paul Willemse when Ken Owens attempted to set up Josh Adams in the second half.

Head coach Pivac said: "We have had a look at the slap down and I think the officials may have got that one wrong.

"That killed momentum as well."

Pivac was also aggrieved when France were awarded a penalty in a scrum as Wales applied the pressure, with prop Wyn Jones having stated this week he expected Les Bleus to "cheat" when they packed down.

"Another disappointing moment was when the French tighthead [Demba Bamba] came on and went straight across the scrum and was rewarded for that," said the New Zealander.

"Those were the big moments in the game. The scrums, from our point of view, had gone okay up until that point.

"You have got to go with the forward motion but he clearly went across the scrum."

Pivac said wings George North and Adams will be checked over after suffering head and ankle injuries respectively, with Wales having games against England and Scotland in March.

"George will go through the normal protocols for a HIA [head injury assessment]. He was taken off the field for a HIA," Pivac stated.

"Josh Adams had an ankle injury. We will have to check him in the next day or two to see how severe it is."

Romain Ntamack says Six Nations leaders France are not discussing the prospect of winning a Grand Slam after he inspired a magnificent 27-23 victory over Wales.

Les Bleus ended a 10-year wait for a victory in Cardiff to outline their title credentials in a thriller at a raucous Principality Stadium on Saturday.

Fly-half Ntamack score a crucial intercept try in the second half following first-half scores from Anthony Bouthier and Paul Willemse.

Dan Biggar's 18-point haul was in vain as the defending champions suffered back-to-back defeats to leave their hopes of retaining the title in tatters.

France went on to complete a clean sweep after their last win in Wales back in 2010, which is the last time they won the tournament.

Ntamack, who was named man of the match after scoring 17 points and showing maturity way beyond his years, says they are not getting ahead of themselves in what has been a dream start to the Fabien Galthie era.

"It's amazing. We worked the whole week for a big game like that. It was a very tough game," he told BBC Sport.

"We have no experience, but we play with a smile. It was a good experience to win at the Principality.

"The try was a good moment. We don't think about the Grand Slam, we play match after match."

Captain Alun Wyn Jones says Wales only had themselves to blame.

"The scoreboard said they deserved it," he said. "You make your own luck sometimes and we fell short on the scoreboard.

"We gave them two penalties and they scored. In the second half, we had the ascendancy and we felt we should have got more out of that scrum. There was a case for a couple of penalty tries.

"They have a very good defence coach [former Wales defence guru Shaun Edwards] and were an embodiment of that today."

The Stormers maintained their 100 per cent Super Rugby record by grinding out a 17-7 victory over the Jaguares at a rainy Newlands before the Blues snatched a last-gasp win over the Bulls.

It was not pretty, but the leaders outmuscled their Argentinian opponents to make it four wins out of four and go three points clear of defending champions the Crusaders as the only unbeaten side.

A Damian Willemse penalty was the only score of the first half on a miserable day in Cape Town, but Herschel Jantjies scooped up a loose ball to go over for the opening try five minutes after the break.

Willemse laid on a second try for Ruhan Nel, with the fly-half making no mistake with his conversion attempt to ensure Rodrigo Bruni's try was no more than a consolation for Gonzalo Quesada's men.

The Bulls were on the verge of their first win of the season but Otere Black's penalty right at the end gave the Blues a 23-21 triumph.

Morne Steyn scored the Bulls' first try of the season and another from Jeandre Rudolph put them on course for victory, but Black denied them right at the end.

Mark Telea, Tom Robinson and Stephen Perofeta were the try-scorers for the Blues, who now have two wins from four matches.

Scotland eased some of the pressure on head coach Gregor Townsend by getting off the mark in the Six Nations with a 17-0 away win over Italy.

Townsend has come under fire after a poor start to the tournament for Scotland, who lost their opening two games against Ireland and England without scoring a try.

Captain Stuart Hogg ended that drought to put Scotland ahead at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, and Chris Harris' second-half effort made it a 10-point gap that proved well beyond the hosts, who conceded a third try to Adam Hastings in the last minute.

The score was Scotland's largest win in Rome but there was still plenty unconvincing about their performance and Townsend will still have plenty of work to do to win over the doubters, while Italy appear destined for another wooden spoon.

Scotland spent much of the opening exchanges on the backfoot after Hastings missed what looked a simple early penalty as Italy made the majority of the early running.

For all their energy, Italy lacked composure with ball in hand and were punished for failing to capitalise on their early pressure in spectacular fashion by Hogg.

Hogg picked the ball up in his own half and weaved his way past Jake Polledri and Jayden Hayward before surging down the right to dive over in the corner.

Ali Price saw a try chalked off for a forward pass in the build-up before Tommaso Allan struck the post from the tee for the hosts.

Harris crashed over from close range to double Scotland's advantage six minutes into the second half, but Hastings again failed to add the extras.

Marco Riccioni was taken off on a cart in a blow to an Italy side that continued to spurn attacking openings and when Federico Zani was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle their hopes were effectively ended.

Hastings then scooted down the blind side to add last-minute gloss to the scoreline, with Italy nilled for the second time in three matches.

 

Hogg leads by example

Scotland were second best in the opening 20 minutes, but skipper Hogg lifted their spirits and turned the tide with a fine individual effort that marked a moment of quality in a game otherwise short on it.

Italy lack killer instinct

Italy crafted a plethora of promising openings with a series of line breaks, but their inability to finish those attacks off was the decisive factor in a tight affair.

The Brumbies stretched their early lead at the top of Super Rugby's Australian Conference after handing the Chiefs their first defeat of the campaign.

The Canberra outfit had been edged out by the Highlanders last week but bounced back to beat the Chiefs 26-14 at FMG Stadium Waikato.

It was a first win in New Zealand since 2014 for the Brumbies after a blistering opening 40 minutes despite a mumps outbreak in the lead up to the game.

Thomas Banks, Solomone Kata and Pete Samu all crossed before the break for the visitors without reply.

And Samu's second try two minutes after the restart, along with Noah Lolesio's third successful conversion, made it 26-0.

Aaron Cruden and Anton Lienert-Brown went through to restore Chiefs hopes, but their run of three straight wins to start the season was ended.

The Reds are now second to the Brumbies in their conference, six points back, after getting their first victory in dominant fashion.

Tate McDermott scored twice in a stunning 10-try 64-5 success against the Sunwolves, leapfrogging their opponents.

Like the Brumbies, the Sharks bounced back from a first loss of the season in Saturday's early game, beating the Rebels 36-24 in Melbourne.

Makazole Mapimpi contributed a pair of tries, while Curwin Bosch had 16 points in all, including a 72nd-minute score.

Serge Betsen feels the "unbelievable" Shaun Edwards has already made a big impact since he was appointed France defence coach and declared "this is just the beginning".

Edwards was lured across the English Channel to join a new-look Les Bleus coaching set-up under Fabien Galthie after 12 years as Wales defensive guru.

It was clear that the hugely respected, no-nonsense 53-year-old has already stamped his authority early in his new role with the manner in which France defended for their lives in a victory over England in their Six Nations opener.

Edwards returns to Cardiff on Saturday for France's showdown with his former employers at the Principality Stadium on what promises to be a pivotal weekend in the battle for the title.

Betsen has first-hand experience of Edwards' coaching skills from his time at Wasps and the former France flanker has paid tribute to the Englishman.

He told Omnisport: "Shaun Edwards used to be my coach at Wasps. He coached me for three years, he's an unbelievable coach, very passionate and very effective with what he does.

"He's one of the best defensive coaches in the world and everybody who he coaches, you can see the impact he has made. I'm looking forward to seeing how he is going to empower the French players for this game because it's really fine margins and those margins are so important.

"I don't feel he'll be looking to use his past experience with Wales as an advantage so much, but what he is really good at [is] empowering people and he'll make sure the players know how to be the best they can be."

Betsen revealed Edwards asked to pick his brains before embarking on his new challenge.

"I really appreciated the fact that Shaun asked to meet with me before he went to France, to try to understand the French mentality, et cetera," he added.

"As a Frenchman and someone who understands his coaching philosophy, I think he made a very good decision to try to understand the people he would be working with and the culture, to ensure he can adapt himself and make a difference.

"We saw the impact he has made in the game against England, not so much against Italy. He brings to the team with instilling discipline, effectiveness, attention to detail and this is just the beginning.

"What people remember from Shaun Edwards is the blitz defence and I want to see the French team being able to apply that at some point."

Sale Sharks moved up to second in the Premiership with an easy 36-3 win over Leicester Tigers.

Second-bottom Leicester took the lead through Noel Reid's penalty but it was all downhill thereafter.

Marland Yarde's try was sandwiched between efforts from Bryn Evans and Coenie Oosthuizen as Sale took command and the wing scored each of the Sharks' second-half tries to complete his hat-trick.

Wasps routed already-relegated Saracens 60-10 in Friday's other game to go seventh.

Zack Kibirige and Brad Shields crossed for doubles while Jimmy Gopperth tallied 20 points with the boot as Wasps went level with Gloucester on 23 points in the fight for the European Challenge Cup places.

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