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Champions Cup: Northampton Saints thrash Bayonne to reach last 16 with game to spare

Tom Pearson (3), Alex Waller (2), Tommy Freeman, Courtney Lawes, Curtis Langdon and Tom James scored tries for Northampton and Fin Smith kicked eight conversions; Newcastle were knocked out of the Challenge Cup after a home humbling by Benetton

Tom Pearson celebrates his second try during the thrashing of Bayonne at Franklin's Gardens
Image: Tom Pearson celebrates his second try during the thrashing of Bayonne at Franklin's Gardens

Northampton registered nine tries as they thrashed Bayonne 61-14 at Franklin's Gardens to secure a place in the Investec Champions Cup knockout stages.

Tom Pearson scored a hat-trick, Alex Waller a brace, and Fin Smith kicked eight conversions as the Gallagher Premiership leaders dominated their French opponents.

That was particularly the case in a first half that saw Northampton cross six times, with the first coming in the opening few moments as Tommy Freeman grabbed Rory Hutchinson's chip and went over.

Pearson got on the scoresheet when Alex Coles intercepted a Bayonne line-out just before the quarter-hour mark, subsequently added another shortly after the visitors had Tevita Tatafu sin-binned, and Courtney Lawes then secured a bonus point in the 28th minute.

There was no let up from the hosts as further tries from Curtis Langdon and Waller, and Smith's extras, made it 42-0 going into the break.

The one-way traffic then continued with Pearson and Waller tries early in the second half.

Bayonne finally got off the mark in the 65th minute as Tom Spring crossed and Thomas Dolhagaray converted.

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Tom James subsequently got Northampton's ninth before a late reply from Aurelien Callandret as Saints sealed qualification from Pool Three having made it three wins from as many matches in the group.

Challenge Cup: Newcastle exit as losing run continues

In the Challenge Cup, Newcastle Falcons were knocked out of the competition on Friday as they lost 18-57 at home to Benetton.

The Italian side ran in eight tries to seal a quarter-final place, as the Falcons' losing streak was extended to 14 matches.

Argentina prop Eduardo Bello crossed for the hosts in the first half as the Falcons took an early 10-0 lead.

However, the Italian side hit back to establish a 22-13 advantage at half-time thanks to tries from Tomas Albornoz, Onisi Ratave and Tommaso Menoncello.

Murray McCallum added another score for Newcastle after the break but Benetton, who move top of Pool 2, ran in further tries from Ratave, Ignacio Mendy, Menoncello, Alessandro Izekor and Jacob Umaga to secure a convincing win.

In Friday evening's other European fixture, full-back Iestyn Hopkins' two tries helped Ospreys to a 25-3 win over Perpignan to book a place in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup.

Wing Keelan Giles also scored for Ospreys with fly-half Dan Edwards kicking 10 points for the Welsh club, who lost Wales hooker Dewi Lake to injury just five minutes in.

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