Falcons brought to earth in France

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The Independent Online

Newcastle's European campaign came to a halt at Parc des Sports Marcel-Michelin yesterday. Montferrand produced a superb comeback to earn a Parker Pen Challenge Cup quarter-final berth against Saracens with a 25-13 victory against the Jonny Wilkinson-less Falcons.

It was always going to be a tough trip for the Falcons, who secured a seven-point lead after the 10-3 first-leg victory, but with the scrum-half James Grindall scoring an early try and the centre Tom May slotting a drop goal, things were looking good at 13-3 at half-time.

But the powerful Montferrand pack eventually ground the English club into submission, and the home side scored three second-half tries through Raphael Chanal, Marc Reynaud and the French international Olivier Magne to sneak through.

Bath and Harlequins will face French opposition after striding into the quarter-finals. Bath secured an appointment with Béziers next week, while Quins will meet Brive, who accounted for Castres yesterday. Bath, seven points up after a hard-fought first leg victory away to Colomiers, won the return 26-17 thanks to tries from the back-row forwards Andy Beattie and Scott Gray, while the prolific fly-half Olly Barkley grabbed 16 points.

Saracens are also through, but London Irish crashed out following a 29-10 defeat against Narbonne. The Exiles's seven-point first leg lead was not enough as they were well beaten in the return. Narbonne were never seriously threatened and secured a quarter-final tie against Connacht.

Connacht lost 10-6 in Pau, but won 35-17 on aggregate as Eric Elwood's penalty double and astute tactical kicking ensured that their French hosts would not wipe out that sizeable advantage.

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