European Rugby Champions Cup round-up: Leicester Tigers cave in on bleak day for English clubs

Leicester, Harlequins crashed out of the tournament while Wasps are on the cusp and Northampton blew chance at home quarter-final

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The Independent Online

English clubs are licking their wounds after a day to forget in Saturday’s final pool round of the European Champions Cup.

Harlequins and Leicester both crashed out of the tournament while Wasps’ hopes hang by a thread after a draw and Northampton blew the chance of a home quarter-final after a humiliating loss to Racing Métro.

Leicester’s slim hopes of gaining a best runners-up spot in Pool Three were crushed as they succumbed 26-7 at Ulster last night. Darren Cave bagged a hat-trick of tries and Craig Gilroy’s score helped extend the gap to 26-0 before Adam Thompstone replied with a try that was converted by Freddie Burns.

Champions Toulon won the pool with a 26-3 victory at Scarlets.

Champions Cup

Quins bow out despite try bonanza in France

Harlequins ran in seven tries as they claimed a 47-19 bonus-point win at Castres, but Wasps’ draw against Leinster meant Quins’ efforts were in vain as they missed out on second spot in Pool Two by the slimmest of margins. It also left Quins ruing their failure to break down Wasps at the Stoop last week as they only finished behind their Aviva Premiership rivals due to a marginally inferior head-to-head record, both clubs having ended with 18 points.

Nick Easter in action for Harlequins in the win over Castres

“I couldn’t have asked any more of my players the week after the defeat to Wasps,” said Quins director of rugby Conor O’Shea. “They refused to mope and put in a great performance in difficult conditions in Castres. But while I hope Wasps go through, it will be agony for us if a team on 18 points does make it into the quarter-finals.”

Tries by Joe Marler, Charlie Walker, Danny Care, Jack Clifford, Mark Lambert, Marland Yarde and George Lowe completed the rout at a snowy Stade Pierre Antoine, Nick Evans landing six conversions.

Six Nations

Double blow for Ireland as injuries strike

Dave Kearney and Eoin Reddan are set to miss the start of Ireland’s Six Nations title defence after suffering injuries in Leinster’s draw yesterday.

Wing Kearney picked up a “significant” shoulder problem after being upended in mid-air by Wasps flanker Ashley Johnson, while scrum-half Reddan trudged off with knee ligament damage.

England also have concerns, with Northampton flanker Tom Wood limping off.

Reflecting on Wood’s early exit less than two weeks before England face Wales in Cardiff, Saints boss Jim Mallinder said: “Tom twisted his ankle, so hopefully it is nothing more serious than that. He is certainly sore, and we thought it was sensible to get him off.”

Champions Cup

Ospreys wings clipped as Treviso end barren run

Benetton Treviso finally broke their two-season duck in the top tier of European Cup rugby as they once again turned on the Ospreys.

The Welsh side completed a miserable Champions Cup campaign when they crashed 23-20 to a last-minute penalty try at Stadio Monigo.

The win ended a run of 11 successive European defeats for the Italian side, whose previous success was a 17-14 win over the Ospreys in 2013.

Challenge Cup

Treviranus treble as quarter-finals take shape

English clubs fared well in the second-tier competition, with only London Welsh failing to progress.

Flanker Ofisa Treviranus scored a hat-trick as London Irish beat Rovigo 34-6 while Newcastle join them in the last eight after a 52-10 win away to Bucharest Wolves.