Champions Cup: Winners and losers as Bulls suffer heavy defeat to Lyon

Winners and Losers: Lyon marched to a convincing 31-7 victory over the Bulls in their final round of the Champions Cup, keeping their hopes of making the playoffs alive. Credit: Alamy
Winners and Losers: Lyon marched to a convincing 31-7 victory over the Bulls in their final round of the Champions Cup, keeping their hopes of making the playoffs alive. Credit: Alamy

Lyon marched to a convincing 31-7 win over the Bulls in the final pool round of the Champions Cup, keeping their hopes of making the play-offs alive.

The Top 14 outfit ended their two-year wait for a win in the competition emphatically, scoring four tries to the Bulls’ one.

We pick out our winners and losers from the fixture.

The losers

Bulls

Obviously, but the result means they will need to be on the road in the knockout stages. They will also have to wait until the end of the weekend’s matches to find out if they do progress. The Pretoria-based side have already done a ton of travelling this season, and it will only get worse now as all of their Champions Cup fixtures will be away. Not only that, but their next destination could be off to French heavyweights La Rochelle or even Premiership champions Leicester Tigers. Ouch.

Racing 92

The Parisians head to the Aviva Stadium to tackle Leinster knowing that anything less than a win will see them miss out on the knockouts altogether. A mammoth task after losing their home fixture against the Irish province 42-10.

Kurt-Lee Arendse

Arendse scored the Bulls’ only try of the match and did have bright patches throughout the fixture, but in the end, he limped off the pitch. The Bulls will hope it is nothing too serious, but his leg was already heavily strapped. A long-term injury to their star back would only rub salt into the wounds.

The winners

Demba Bamba

It’s been a tough few seasons for the powerful tighthead prop, but if his performance against the Bulls is anything to go by, we will see him back in the Les Bleus squad soon.

The 24-year-old decimated the highly-rated Simphiwe Matanzima in the scrums with regular ease. He made bulking runs with the ball in hand and hefty hits. It was a sight to behold and shows that he is quickly getting back to his best in just his fourth appearance and second start of the season – an utterly dominant 54-minute performance that will excite the French coaching staff.

Dylan Cretin

Cretin missed France’s Autumn Nations Series, and with the return of fitness of Charles Ollivon and Francois Cros, Les Bleus’ back-row is well stocked with options.

The Lyon man may have slipped down the pecking order, but that isn’t stopping him from pressing for minutes in the Six Nations after a brutally effective performance.

He worked brilliantly with Patrick Sobela to nullify the Bulls’ attack, winning two turnovers while making the second-most tackles for the side.

Exeter Chiefs

The win for Lyon takes some pressure off of Exeter Chiefs, who would have been put under the pump if they were to secure home-ground advantage for the round of 16. They will still need a win to claim that luxury, but the Bulls’ loss means Rob Baxter’s side ends Friday night in the same position they started. They face Castres, who have nothing but pride to play for after losing their first three games.

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