The day’s results also ensured Ulster will advance as at least one of the two best runners-up. A Jonny Wilkinson-skippered Toulon side had too much power for Cardiff Blues in Pool Two, running out 43-20 winners thanks largely to a completely dominant scrum. A bonus point for a fourth try at the death – unusually a third penalty try, set Toulon atop their pool on 20 points, with the Blues in second on 13.
“We had a big point to prove after last week,” said Toulon No.8 Steffon Armitage in reference to last week’s 22-21 Top 14 loss to Grenoble which had incensed coach Bernard Laporte. ”All the boys were really up for it and hopefully we’ll come back better next week.”
The win meant the French giants will top Pool Four, having already amassed 19 points from their five games, seven ahead of second-placed Quins with a game in hand.
* In Pool Five action, two-time Cup winners Leicester withstood an early onslaught from Italian outfit Treviso to run out 34-19 bonus-point winners.
* Magical Munster clinched top spot in Pool Six to secure a Heineken Cup quarterfinal place in front of their passionate fans who were full of voice at a sold-out Kingsholm.
We look at Saturday’s drama!
Harlequins 13-16 ASM Clermont Auvergne
Clermont Auvergne came from behind at The Stoop to secure their place in the European Cup quarterfinals and become the first team to win a Pool this season. With four successive wins, and 19 points, they cannot now be caught. Harlequins led from the 22nd minute until the 72nd but a Sitiveni Sivivatu try and late penalty from Brock James means Clermont are the first side to book their place in the knock-out stages.
Pens: Evans 2
For Clermont Auvergne:
Tries: Nalaga, Sivivatu
Pens: James 2
Benetton Treviso 10-34 Leicester Tigers
Leicester and Ulster Rugby are all set for a mouth watering Round 6 encounter at Welford Road next week after the Tigers took maximum points from their trip to Treviso. Ulster’s lead at the top of Pool 5 is now just two points ahead of next Sunday’s potential fire cracker, with Leicester knowing that a victory of any sorts will see them jump above Ulster into top spot. The 2001 and 2002 tournament winners were made to work hard for a fourth straight victory in the current campaign but they turned a 13-8 half-time deficit into a 34-19 success at the Stadio di Monigo.
For Benetton Treviso:
Pens: Berquist 4
For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Salvi, Benjamin, Penalty try, Benjamin
Pen: Williams, Mele 3
Exeter Chiefs 10-15 Glasgow Warriors
Glasgow Warriors did the season’s Pool Two double over Exeter Chiefs after coming back from an early 10-points deficit at Sandy Park. They went on to score 15 points without reply for their second group success overall while the Chiefs went down to their fourth defeat of the campaign and took over the basement place.
Glasgow held firm in the closing stages and will now take on Toulon at Scotstoun Stadium while the Chiefs take on Cardiff Blues at Cardiff Arms Park in Round Six.
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Maitland, Lamont
Connacht 20-3 Zebre
Connacht claimed their third European Cup win for the second season running but missed out on a bonus point at home to Zebre. Pat Lam, who was a European Champion with Northampton 14 years ago, saw his side run out comfortable victors but they were only able to cross the opposition tryline on two occasions. Connacht’s stunning win at four-times European Cup winners Toulouse in Round 3 means they are still mathematically alive ahead of Saracens’ trip to France tomorrow, although a place in the Challenge Cup quarterfinals is a more realistic outcome even if they pick up maximum points in London next week.
Tries: Healy, Henshaw
Cons: Carty 2
Pens: Carty 2
Yellow card: Filippo Ferrarini (Zebre, 17 – professional foul)
Toulon 43-20 Cardiff Blues
The European Cup champions are safely through to the quarterfinals after grabbing an injury time bonus point to ensure they clinched Pool 6 with a game still to play. Playing at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, in front of their best-ever European crowd of 31,150, Toulon had three penalties tries to thank for their success – and four yellow cards dished out to the battling Blues.
The Welsh region, who had beaten Toulon 19-15 at the Arms Park in the second round, stood up to the test manfully in the first-half and were only 15-13 behind at the break. The boot of Jonny Wilkinson had kicked five of his six penalty opportunities, while Samoan lock Filo Paulo conjured up the first try of the game.
Tries: Penalty try 3, D Smith
Cons: Wilkinson 4
Pens: Wilkinson 5
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Paulo, Hobbs
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 2
Yellow cards: Chris Czekaj (Cardiff Blues, 6 – professional foul), Benoit Bourrust (Cardiff Blues, 34 – repeated infringements), Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues, 45 – professional foul), Robin Copeland (Cardiff Blues, 79 – professional foul)
Edinburgh 27-16 Perpignan
Edinburgh moved up to second in Pool 6 with a convincing win over Perpignan at Murrayfield on Saturday. The Scottish side were good value for a 27-16 success as they avenged their defeat at the Stade Aime Giral in October thanks to tries from Tom Brown, Cornell du Preez and Dougie Fife and a fine kicking display from captain Greig Laidlaw.
Tries: Brown, Du Preez, Fife
Cons: Laidlaw 3
Pens: Laidlaw 2
Pens: Hook 3
Yellow card: Guilhem Guirado (Perpignan, 42 – professional foul)
Gloucester 7-20 Munster
Magical Munster clinched top spot in Pool Six to secure a Heineken Cup quarterfinal place in front of their passionate fans who were full of voice at a sold-out Kingsholm. Ian Keatley steered Munster to victory in a game played at break neck speed. Both teams started with purpose and direction as the game swung from one end to the other, full of attacking rugby.
Tries: Earls, O’Mahony
Cons: Keatley 2
Pens: Keatley 2