MUNSTER-BOUND BACK row Robin Copeland was named man of the match for the third time in Pool 2 of the Heineken Cup, despite a 19-13 defeat at home for his Cardiff Blues side against Exeter.
The Wexford native had previously been highlighted as the best player on the pitch in the wins against Toulon and Glasgow Warriors in rounds two and four respectively. His latest achievement comes at the end of a week when he was included in Joe Schmidt’s 44-man Ireland squad.
Irish out-half Gareth Steenson’s four penalties and one conversion proved crucial for Exeter at Cardiff Arms Park, adding to an early try from lock Don Armand. The Blues responded with an Alex Cuthbert score, converted by Leigh Halfpenny, who was also on target with two penalties.
It was No. 8 Copeland who stood out with his imposing physicality once again, however, and Schmidt will be further impressed when he views the match tape. Cardiff will have to wait on other results to find out if they have qualified for the Amlin Challenge Cup, while Exeter’s European involvement is at an end.
Meanwhile, Toulon’s 15-8 victory away to Glasgow ensured that they will have a home quarter-final in May. Jonny Wilkinson’s kicking proved as vital as ever for Bernard Laporte’s side, with the English out-half scoring all their points from penalties.
The Warriors managed to cross the whitewash through captain Chris Fusaro, while number 10 Ruaridh Jackson added a penalty. A late hammering of the French side’s try-line failed to bear fruit though, and Toulon held on to secure the relieving win.
Not too many sides will fancy the trip to the Stade Mayol in the knock-out stages, but Toulon have shown several signs of decline this season.