Saints confirmed as top seeds
January 24, 2011
The race for the Heineken Cup has reached the quarter-final stage © Getty Images
Northampton Saints have been confirmed as top seeds for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals following a breathless final round of Pool action.
The Aviva Premiership side profited following a 23-12 victory over Castres at the Stade Pierre Antoine and Toulouse's implosion at Adams Park, where Florian Fritz's 47th minute red card and a late Wasps try to David Lemi derailed their hopes of a home quarter-final.
The reigning champions will now face an away trip to face Biarritz in a repeat of last year's final. Imanol Harinordoquy and Co booked their place in the last eight with Saturday's 26-19 victory over Bath at the Parc des Sports Aguilera.
The French side were joined in progressing from Pool 4 by Irish side Ulster, whose 43-6 win over Aironi was enough for a best runners-up spot. Their reward will be a trip to face the Saints, whether at Franklin's Gardens or Milton Keynes.
There is further Irish representation in the last eight in the form of second seeds Leinster, who completed their dominance of Pool 2 with a Friday night rout of Racing Metro.
Leo Cullen's side will face Leicester at the RDS in a rerun of the 2009 final, when the Irish side prevailed to win their maiden title. The Tigers progressed as seventh seeds, having finished Pool 5 behind Perpignan, whose 37-5 rout of the Scarlets on Sunday secured a possible dream tie in Barcelona against Top 14 rivals Toulon.
Jonny Wilkinson was the only survivor from the side that routed Munster last weekend as Le Toulonnais were dispatched by a resurgent Ospreys in Swansea on Saturday, but they had already sealed a quarter-final place in the tournament's most foreboding group.
Heineken Cup quarter-final seedings:
1. Northampton (Q) - 25pts
Heineken Cup quarter-finals: (to be played over weekend of April 8/9/10)
Northampton v Ulster
Semi-Final Draw: (to be played over weekend of April 30/May 1)
The winner of the first named quarter-final in each semi-final pairing will have home country advantage.
Semi-final 1: Leinster or Leicester Tigers v Biarritz Olympique or Toulouse
After the dust had settled on the Heineken Cup battlefield, Wasps, Clermont Auvergne and Munster were confirmed as combatants in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter finals as runners-up in their respective Pools.
Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals: (to be played over weekend of April 7/8/9/10)
Stade Francais v Montpellier
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry