Paris - Defending champions Toulon, heavyweight French rivals Clermont, and
former winners Munster have all secured places in the quarter-finals of the
European Cup on Saturday.
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The day's results also ensured Ulster will advance as at least one of the two best runners-up.
Jonny Wilkinson-skippered Toulon side had too much power for Cardiff
Blues in Pool 2, 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
"All the boys were really up for it today and hopefully we'll come back better next week."
Winger David Smith scored Toulon's other try, with Wilkinson booting four penalties and four conversions.
Blues scored tries through Filo Paulo and Sam Hobbs, with British Lions
full-back Leigh Halfpenny hitting two penalties and two conversions,
but they paid for four yellow cards.
Clermont overcame a 10-point half-time deficit to claim a narrow 16-13 away victory over Harlequins.
win meant the French giants will top Pool 4, having already amassed 19
points from their five games, seven ahead of second-placed Quins with a
game in hand.
"We got the result and qualification as well, it's a
very good thing. It wasn't a perfect match but what mattered was the
four points," said Clermont coach Vern Cotter, immediately turning his
sights on the team's final pool encounter against Racing-Metro.
"If we play well, we could have a home quarter-final, which is not negligible."
Clermont came out firing and a frantic start saw fly-half Brock James notching up his first penalty in the third minute.
No 8 Fritz Lee broke away, James landed an inch-perfect crosskick but
Fijian winger Napolioni Nalaga couldn't hold it with the line begging,
Lee then putting down a try-scoring pass from the resulting line-out.
A piece of individual brilliance from Quins' England scrum-half Danny Care then lit up the Stoop.
Care latched on to an unlikely chip ahead from skipper Chris Robshaw but found himself bound for touch at a lick.
Carefully avoiding the whitewash, Care managed a blind one-handed pass behind him, which Matt Hooper caught for a clear run-in.
momentum swung the way of the London club, Evans booting a penalty
after his own slick break, with Clermont left to rue their missed
The French club opened the second-half just as they
wanted, a cruel bounce from a Morgan Parra chip leaving Quins full-back
Mike Brown stranded and Nalaga free to hack through and dot down for a
Clermont's pressing paid off when former All Black winger
Sitiveni Sivivatu crossed with eight minutes to play, to draw the scores
level, James unable to nail the tricky conversion.
The Australian made amends shortly after with a simpler penalty shot to hand the French giants a hard-fought victory.
Munster meanwhile booked their 15th appearance in the last eight as Pool 6 winners after an impressive 20-7 win at Gloucester.
2006 and 2008 champions had tries from Keith Earls and Peter O'Mahony
to thank for the win. Elsewhere in Pool 6, Edinburgh beat Perpignan
In Pool 5 action, two-time Cup winners Leicester withstood
an early onslaught from Italian outfit Treviso to run out 34-19
Flanker Julian Salvi and winger Miles
Benjamin each scored a brace of tries, with ex-Perpignan half-back David
Mele pitching in with three penalties and a conversion.
Treviso had taken a shock lead through a Lorenzo Cittadini try, converted by Mat Berquist, who also booted four penalties.
day's results meant that Pool 5 leaders Ulster - 27-16 winners over
Montpellier on Friday - now qualify as at least one of the second best
runners-up, with a match against Leicester next week to decide the pool
European Cup results on Saturday:
Exeter (ENG) 10 Glasgow (SCO) 15
Toulon (FRA) 43 Cardiff (WAL) 20
Connacht (IRL) 20 Zebre (ITA) 3
Harlequins (ENG) 13 Clermont (FRA) 16
Treviso (ITA) 19 Leicester (ENG) 34
Edinburgh (SCO) 27 Perpignan (FRA) 16
Gloucester (ENG) 7 Munster (IRL) 20
Racing-Metro (FRA) 13 Scarlets (WAL) 19
Ulster (IRL) 27 Montpellier (FRA) 16
Ospreys (WAL) v Northampton (ENG) (14:45)
Castres (FRA) v Leinster (IRL) (14:45)
Toulouse (FRA) v Saracens (ENG) (17:00)