The final round of the Heineken Cup group stages came to an end on Sunday, and we now know who will compete in the last eight after the qualifying positions were locked down.
Leinster solidified their progression on Friday night with a landslide 36-3 victory over the Ospreys, who were reduced to 14-men when Wales international lock Ian Evans was shown a red card for alleged stamping. The result meant that Northampton’s 13-3 win at Castres was only enough to see them through to the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
On Saturday, Saracens tore apart Irish side Connacht 64-6 to claim one of the two best runners-up spots, but results elsewhere means they qualified as eighth seeds and face a daunting trip to Ravenhill to take on Ulster. Toulouse struggled to a 16-6 win in Zebre, meaning they let slip a potential home semi-final draw and will have to win at the fortress that is Thomond Park when they take on Munster.
Toulon battled to a 15-8 win in Edinburgh, holding off a late comeback to book a home quarter-final with former champions Leinster. In the same pool, Exeter Chiefs salvaged some pride with a 19-13 win over the Cardiff Blues in Wales.
In the tie of the weekend, Ulster triumphed in a hard-fought war with Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, as 22 points from scrum-half Ruan Pienaar saw them booked their place as top seeds, with the Tigers going through as the other best runners-up. Montpellier saw off Benetton Treviso 24-6 in a dead rubber.
Munster kicked-off Sunday’s action looking for a bonus point win to secure a home draw, and that’s exactly what they got through a 38-6 mauling of Glasgow Warriors. Gloucester recorded an impressive 36-18 win at Perpignan to reach the Amlin Challenge Cup quarters.
Finally, Clermont Auvergne continued their unbeaten home run – now an incredible 71 matches – with a 28-3 win over struggling Racing Metro, while Harlequins secured a nail-biting 22-20 win at the Llanelli Scarlets to join Saints and Gloucester in the Amlin.
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