Quarter-final picture takes shape
January 13, 2013
Quins' Mike Brown takes some stopping during his side's victory over Connacht at The Stoop © PA Photos
The race for a place in this season's Heineken Cup is hotting up following the penultimate round of pool games.
Harlequins, Toulon, Clermont Auvergne and Ulster have all booked their place in the last eight but the four other teams and the all-important seeding are yet to be confirmed with next weekend's final round of matches set to provide all the answers.
Quins sealed their passage with a 40-8 mauling of Connacht and they were joined by Toulon following their 45-25 demolition of Cardiff Blues. Clermont Auvergne joined them having extended their unbeaten run at the Stade Marcel Michelin to 54 matches with a 46-3 drubbing of Exeter. Ulster were the first side to progress thanks to their 23-6 victory over Glasgow on Friday night.
Elsewhere, Toulouse took control of Pool 2 with a 35-14 victory over Treviso. But Leicester remain hot on their heels following their 15-all draw with Ospreys that sets up a winner-takes-all clash against their French rivals next weekend.
Saracens' hopes are also alive and well following their 37-28 win against Racing Metro that leaves them in charge of Pool 1 with Edinburgh set to visit Vicarage Road in the final round of pool action.
Montpellier and Leicester are in line to claim the two places on offer for the best runners-up, with the French side having accounted for Sale on Friday night. But their results against Toulon and Toulouse next time out will decide whether they cement their places in the knock out stages.
Munster's latest victory against Edinburgh on Sunday initially saw them push defending champions Leinster out of the current play-off picture despite their bonus point win against the Scarlets. But Munster had also slipped out of the current play-off picture by the end of the day with both Irish sides now needing big wins against Racing Metro and Exeter respectively if they are to force their way back into the reckoning.
Heineken Cup quarter-finals qualifiers and seeding: (as it stands)
1. Harlequins (Q) (P5, 24pts)
Q - qualified as Pool winners
Teams ranked 1-4 will have home advantage in the quarter-finals.
The quarter-finals will be:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
In the wake of another perfect November series, Monday Maul talks to NZRU CEO Steve Tew about the constant demand for perfection
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
The Wallabies showed flair in Dublin, but they still have a way to go if they are to do more than make up the numbers at the World Cup, writes Greg Growden
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton