Paris - Three-time winners Leinster raced into the European
Champions Cup last-eight on Friday with an eight-try, 57-3 humiliation of
Montpellier who had Springboks star Francois Steyn red-carded for a sickening
tackle on Jonny Sexton.
The Irish side, champions in 2009, 2011 and 2012, ensured
top spot in Pool 1 with 21 points with a trip to Castres to come next week
where they will aim to guarantee a home tie in the quarter-finals.
Leinster were already 14-3 ahead by the 26th minute thanks
to tries from skipper Isa Nacewa and flank Jack Conan.
But Montpellier's hopes were dashed when 2007 World Cup
winner Steyn was sent-off for a head-high dangerous tackle on Irish fly-half
While Sexton lay pole-axed on the ground, the bearded
29-year-old Steyn, who had kicked the French side's only points, was red-carded
despite his protests.
Nacewa popped over the resulting penalty before Leinster
grabbed their third try of the first half through flying winger Adam Byrne who
sprinted over for his third try in the tournament this season.
The onslaught continued after the break with Conan adding
the fourth try just before the hour mark, bullying his way past four defenders
to score under the posts.
It gave Leinster the bonus point with Sexton adding the
extras for good measure against a weary-looking Montpellier.
Conan went on to complete his hat-trick later in the half
with Luke McGrath, Cian Healy and Garry Ringrose also scoring for a rampant
On Sunday, three-time champions Toulon welcome back
Australian playmaker Matt Giteau for their make-or-break match against Sale.
Toulon trail reigning champions Saracens by eight points in
Pool 3 and with a visit to the English giants to come in round 6, their
penultimate round-robin outing against the Sharks is a must-win encounter.
Giteau, a key man in Toulon's hat-trick of titles from
2013-15, is back to fitness after suffering a broken ankle and an additional
leg fracture playing for the Wallabies against New Zealand in the Rugby
Munster and Glasgow are locked at the top of Pool 1, with
Leicester in third and Racing 92, last year's beaten finalists, pointless in
And Pool 2 sees a three-way shared lead between Wasps, Toulouse
and Connacht, with Italian whipping boys Zebre bottom.
Arguably one of the matches of the weekend will be Munster's
trip to Glasgow on Saturday, with the two teams having hit some great form.
The Irish province smashed Racing last week and have already
beaten the Warriors, 38-17, in the second round of matches.