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Champions Cup play-offs decided

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Munster secured a home quarter-final slot following a dominant 48-3 triumph over Castres in the delayed Pool 4 game.

Referee Ben Whitehouse put the game back three hours from its 1:00pm kick-off due to heavy rain at Thomond Park and it initially seemed to affect the hosts.

They were slow out of the blocks and Rory Kockott kicked the French outfit in front, but the Irish province gradually got into their stride.

 

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: Earls, Marshall, Penalty try, Zebo, Wootton, Cronin
Cons: Keatley 3, Hanrahan 2
Pens: Keatley 2

For Castres:
Pen: Kockott
Yellow Cards: Combezou, Kotze

La Rochelle booked a spot in the Champions Cup quarter-finals but are set for a road trip in the knockouts after a 16-7 win over Harlequins.

It wasn’t pretty and at times the hosts were nervous and full of errors, but to qualify for the last eight is a huge feat for the French outfit.

They scored two tries in this home win, through Pierre Aguillon and Kini Murimurivalu, with Alexi Bales kicking two penalties off the tee.

For Harlequins they can take a lot from their performance on the road with Danny Care scoring their try, but ultimately bow out at this stage.

 

The scorers:

For La Rochelle:
Tries: Aguillon, Murimurivalu
Pens: Bales 2

For Harlequins:
Try: Care
Con: Smith

Defending champions Saracens will play in the Champions Cup knockout stages after Ulster were defeated 26-7 by Wasps in Coventry.

Despite a difficult PRO14 campaign, the Irish province have been better in Europe but they were ultimately not quite good enough to qualify for the quarter-finals.

The visitors were outplayed by Dai Young’s team and only had a Sean Reidy try to show for their efforts.

Wasps dominated proceedings and touched down twice via Guy Thompson and Tom Cruse in the opening 40 minutes before Willie le Roux scored their third after the break.

 

The scorers:

For Wasps:
Tries: Thompson, Cruse, Le Roux, Cooper-Woolley
Cons: Cipriani 3

For Ulster:
Try: Reidy
Con: Cooney

Racing 92 held off a late Leicester onslaught on their line to win 23-20 at Welford Road, sealing a spot in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

The visitors finish the pool stage on 19 points and therefore qualify for the knockout stages thanks to tries from Henry Chavancy and Maxime Machenaud, with the scrum-half crucially kicking two conversions and three penalties to boot.

Leicester meanwhile can take credit from this performance as, despite losing, they displayed a character that had been missing of late.

 

The scorers:

For Leicester:
Try: O’Connor
Pens: Ford 5

For Racing 92:
Tries: Chavancy, Machenaud
Cons: Machenaud 2
Pens: Machenaud 3

Bath were knocked out of the European Champions Cup despite securing a dominant 47-28 triumph over Benetton.

Todd Blackadder’s men were reliant on the Scarlets-Toulon result going in their favour but the Welsh region’s victory, combined with the Frenchmen getting a bonus-point, meant that they were ousted from the competition.

The West Countrymen will ultimately rue their heavy loss to the Scarlets last weekend after they went down 35-17 at the Rec.

 

The scorers:

For Benetton:
Tries: Sperandio, Negri, Benvenuti, Ioane
Cons: Allan 4
Yellow Card: Gori

For Bath:
Tries: Dunn, Penalty try, Banahan, Watson, Joseph, Mercer, Charteris
Cons: Burns 5

Glasgow left Exeter’s European hopes in tatters with a 28-21 bonus-point victory in Champions Cup action at Scotstoun on Saturday.

Exeter will feel hard done by as they dominated the match for large periods but weren’t their usual clinical selves.

Tries from Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Matt Fagerson and a penalty try proved too much for Exeter who scored through Sam Simmonds, Don Armand and Ian Whitten.

 

The scorers:

For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Hogg, Seymour, Fagerson, Penalty Try
Cons: Russell 3

For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Simmonds, Armand, Whitten
Cons: Steenson 3
Yellow Card: White

Scarlets leapfrogged Toulon to finish top of Pool 5 with a 30-27 victory at Parc y Scarlets in European Champions Cup action on Saturday.

Scarlets qualified for the quarter-finals and can dare to dream as they remain on course to win their first ever Champions Cup after beating three-times winners Toulon much to the delight of their rapturous home crowd.

Tries from Tom Prydie, Hadleigh Parkes and Dan Jones proved too much for Toulon who scored through Duane Vermeulen and Chris Ashton.

The first-half was a more open affair than the second, with the sides adopting a less expansive game after the break.

 

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Tries: Prydie, Parkes, Jones
Cons: Jones 3
Pens: Jones 2, Patchell

For Toulon:
Tries: Vermeuelen, Ashton
Con: Belleau
Pens: Belleau 3, Trinh-Duc 2

Two-time European champions Saracens gave themselves an opportunity of a quarter-final place following a dominant 62-14 triumph over Northampton Saints.

With the Ospreys going down to Clermont Auvergne, Mark McCall’s men move up to second position in Pool 2 and will now wait on other results to see if they qualify.

Sarries had begun slowly and allowed Northampton to touch down twice in the first quarter through Cobus Reinach and Nafi Tuitavake.

 

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Vunipola, Goode, Bosch, Wigglesworth, Koch, Maitland, Vailanu
Cons: Farrell 6
Pens: Farrell 5

For Northampton:
Tries: Reinach, Tuitavake
Cons: Mallinder 2
Yellow Cards: Gibson

Clermont booked a home quarter-final after they saw off the Ospreys at Stade Marcel-Michelin, winning 24-7 to eliminate the Welsh region.

Nick Abendanon struck the first try with 15 minutes of the first-half to play, as Clermont took a 13-0 lead into half-time. Ospreys narrowed that lead through Ashley Beck, but never looked like getting back in it and a try right at the end through Luke McAlister sealed victory for the hosts.

The hunt for top spot in Pool 2 came down to a shoot-out between first and second, as Ospreys looked to steal a home quarter-final away from their French hosts. Defeat last week against Northampton put a huge dent in Clermont’s Champions Cup campaign, whilst Ospreys were able to secure a draw against Saracens. The Premiership side were still in with a sniff of qualifying, depending on the result at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.

 

The scorers:

For Clermont:
Tries: Abendanon, McAlister
Con: Parra
Pens: Parra 3, Laidlaw

For Ospreys:
Try: Beck
Con: Biggar

Leinster will be top seed going into the Champions Cup quarter-finals after they beat Montpellier 23-14 at Altrad Stadium on Saturday.

Tries from Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw and Sean Cronin saw them to the four points as they end on a whopping 27 points after six games.

Montpellier finish the pool in third place as their European campaign is ended – Bismarck du Plessis and Yacouba Camara scoring in defeat.

 

The scorers:

For Montpellier:
Tries: Du Plessis, Camara
Cons: Cruden 2

For Leinster:
Tries: Byrne, Henshaw, Cronin
Cons: Byrne
Pens: Byrne 2

The quarter-finals of the Champions Cup have been confirmed, with top seeds Leinster hosting Saracens in the pick of the matches.

In the other last-eight games, Scarlets host La Rochelle, Toulon travel to Munster while Clermont face Racing 92 in an all-French showdown.

The huge fixtures will take place over the weekend of March 30-April 1, with the schedule to be announced in due course by the organisers.

Champions Cup quarter-finals

Leinster v Saracens
Scarlets v La Rochelle
Munster v Toulon
Clermont v Racing 92

 

Semi-finals will take place over the weekend of April 20-22

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