Jonny Wilkinson kicked Toulon to a 32-16 Pool Three victory over Munster last night to help his team reach the knockout stages, but sending the Irish province out of the competition before the quarter-finals for the first time in 12 years.
Christian Loamanu and Paul Sackey ran in tries for the French side in the early stages, with Wilkinson converting both as well as kicking four penalties of his own. Munster's riposte came from Ronan O'Gara, who landed three penalties as his side trailed 26-9 at the break.
To increase Munster's worries, O'Gara and team-mate Donncha O'Callaghan were both sent to the sin- bin in the second period. Wilkinson kicked two further penalties and, although David Wallace scored a consolation try for Munster, Toulon clinched the win to top the pool.
The Ulster head coach, Brian McLaughlin, praised his side's "unbelievable" defence after the Irish province secured a 9-6 Pool Four victory over Biarritz on Saturday.
"Our defence on our line halfway through the second half was unbelievable. We've talked long and hard about the trust we have in each other and the trust in our system," McLaughlin said, after fly-half Ian Humphreys' long-range penalty secured victory.
The pool is set for an exciting finish next weekend. In securing a losing bonus point, Biarritz look likely to qualify as pool winners if they beat Bath on Saturday, while Ulster may go through as one of the two best runners-up in the competition if they beat Aironi in Italy on the same day.
"We know it's not entirely in our hands," McLaughlin conceded. "We're under no illusions we've got to go there [Aironi] and get the win and, if we get a bonus point, even better."
Newport-Gwent Dragons suffered their fifth defeat in the Heineken Cup, going down 17-3 to defending champions Toulouse to remain at the bottom of Pool Six with a solitary point, but their head coach, Paul Turner, was still full of praise for his players.
"We spoke before the game about the fear factor in rugby when you come to places like Toulouse. If you're unlucky you can be on the wrong end of something bad, so I'm really proud of the players' effort," said Turner.
In the Challenge Cup, Harlequins sealed their place in the the knockout stages beating Cavalieri 48-16 to top Pool One. Maurie Fa'asavalu and Danny Care both touched down before Sam Smith posted two tries. Wouter Moore replied but tries from Tom Casson and Karl Dickson added gloss to the scoreline.Reuse content