Euro quarter-finals confirmed
January 22, 2012
Munster wing Simon Zebo celebrates a try in his side's rout of Northampton © Getty Images
After six rounds of brutal, brilliant Pool action the Heineken Cup quarter-finals have been confirmed, with some familiar faces leading the way into the knockout stages.
Munster secured top seeding in the last eight and a priceless home tie at Thomond Park with Saturday's 51-36 hammering of Northampton. The two-time champions will face Ulster in a titanic all-Irish tie. While Ulster fell short away to Clermont Auvergne - losing 19-15 - they did enough to bag one of the two spots on offer to the best runners-up.
The other belongs to Cardiff Blues, who are set to face reigning champions Leinster in the quarters. The Blues scraped past Racing Metro in the final round - winning 36-30 - but their lack of a bonus-point gave Edinburgh top spot in Pool 2 and home advantage against Toulouse.
Leinster are seeded second, having completed the Pool stages unbeaten with a routine 25-3 win over Montpellier. They will be a tough proposition at the RDS or Lansdowne Road, leaving Cardiff staring down the barrel.
Toulouse, whose Pool campaign has not been brimming with quality, will be wary of a free-flowing Edinburgh. The four-time champions have qualified on 18 points, despite Friday's 34-24 loss to Gloucester.
Clermont Auvergne, meanwhile, will also be on their travels. Saracens needed only a point from Sunday's trip to Treviso, but the English champions managed all four in a 26-20 win to set up a Vicarage Road meeting with Les Jaunards.
Following the final round, the draw for the semi-finals confirmed home country advantage for the winners of the Saracens-Clermont and Munster-Ulster ties.
The other main sub-plot to consider is qualification for the latter stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup. Harlequins will get a chance to defend the trophy they won in Cardiff last season, after Friday's 9-8 defeat at Connacht ended their Heineken Cup hopes.
The Scarlets will also drop into the second tier tournament - thanks to Northampton's loss against Munster and their gritty 16-13 win at Castres. Biarritz kept their nose in with a win over the Ospreys in the final round, and they complete the line-up for the last eight.
Heineken Cup quarter-final seedings:
1. Munster (Q - 25 points)
Heineken Cup quarter-finals: (To be played April 6/7/8)
Munster v Ulster
Heineken Cup semi-finals: (To be played April 27/28/29)
Saracens/Clermont v Leinster/Cardiff Blues
Final: Twickenham Stadium, Saturday, May 19 (5.00)
Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final seedings:
1. Stade Francais (Q - 29 points)
Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals: (To be played April 5/6/7/8)
Stade Francais v Exeter
Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals: (To be played April 27/28/29)
Toulon/Harlequins v Stade Francais/Exeter
Final: Twickenham Stoop, Friday, May 18 (8.00)
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