Sunday saw round 6 of this year Heineken Cup round-up with Munster and Clermont securing home quarterfinals as they both got confortable wins over Edinburgh and Racing Metro.
We look at Sunday’s action!
Munster 38-6 Edinburgh
Munster produced a five-star performance against Edinburgh at Thomond Park on Sunday to clinch home ground advantage in the European Cup quarterfinals on the first weekend of April.
Munster were already safely through to the money-spinning knockout stages for a record 15th time in the 19 years of European club rugby’s premier tournament but their 38-6, six-try haul took them up to 23 match points and that priceless home tie in the last eight.
Munster, the European champions in 2006 and 2008, gained full revenge for their 29-23 defeat in Edinburgh in Round One as the 2012 semifinalists did not help themselves by having two of their players yellow carded and Munster punishing them on the scoreboard.
Tries: Coughlan, Murphy, Murray, O’Mahony, Zebo, Jones
Cons: Keatley 4
Pens: Laidlaw 2
Yellow cards: Cornell du Preez (Edinburgh, 40), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh, 73)
Perpignan 18-36 Gloucester
Gloucester will be playing European rugby in April after they stunned Perpignan at the Stade Aime Giral on Sunday afternoon. The 2006 European Challenge Cup winners will have the chance to regain that trophy when continental competition returns in the spring after they secured maximum points in a 36-18 success in the south of France.
Gloucester ran in five tries in all to finish the pool stages on 14 points, leapfrogging Pool Two runners-up Cardiff Blues in the process courtesy of their better try-scoring record across all six fixtures.
A quarterfinal spot seemed a distant dream after back-to-back home defeats to Edinburgh and Munster but Gloucester left their best performance til last to revive a disappointing season to date.
Tries: Piukala, Chateau
Pens: Ecochard 2
Tries: May, Monahan 2, Sharples, Morgan
Cons: Burns 4
Yellow card: George Jgenti (Perpignan, 77)
Scarlets 20-22 Harlequins
The battle for the final place in the European Challenge Cup quarterfinals went down to the wire at Parc y Scarlets and wasn’t decided until three minutes from time when Ben Botica kicked a decisive penalty.
Up until then it looked as though the Scarlets were going to maintain their discipline and hold onto their slender lead to give Wales one team to follow in the latter stages of European competition. But a fatal step offside in the 77th minute gave Botica the chance to step up a grab the glory. It was a kick that, given the conditions, wasn’t the easiest in the world, but he would have expected to land the goal. His father, former All Black Frano, was watching in the stands with mixed feelings.
While he was delighted for his son, he had to hold back any celebrations because he used to play for Llanelli. It was a killer blow for the home side who had gone into the game hoping to notch a notable double over the English outfit.
Both teams came into the game knowing there was the chance to continue their European adventure in the Challenge Cup and the Quins arrived wanting to put the record straight following their 26-33 defeat at the Twickenham Stoop in the opening round.
Tries: Davies, Shingler, S Williams
Tries: Brown, Lindsay-Hague, Dickson
Cons: Evans 2
Yellow card: Aaron Shingler (Scarlets, 10)
Clermont 28-3 Racing Metro
Clermont secured a home quarterfinal with Leicester Tigers after they picked up maximum points against Racing Metro.
Last season’s beaten finalists knew a bonus point win would see them return to the Stade Marcel Michelin, while a failure to score four tries would have seen them head out on the road on the first weekend of April.
Dreadful weather conditions made Clermont’s task much tougher than it might otherwise had been but they still had way too much power and pace for a Racing side who had lost four straight games in Pool Four since they edged the reverse fixture in Round One.
Gerhard Vosloo scored twice for the hosts, with Fritz Lee and Vincent Debaty also touching down in a comfortable 28-3 success.
Tries: Lee, Vosloo 2, Debaty
Cons: Delany 4
For Racing Metro:
Yellow cards: Bernard le Roux (Racing Metro, 42), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing Metro, 52), Luc Ducalcon (Racing Metro, 56)