Race is on for Challenge Cup quarter-finals
January 20, 2011
Gloucester director of rugby Bryan Redpath needs Rovigo to do his side a favour against La Rochelle if the Premiership side are to progress © Getty Images
Crociati Rugby 17 - 34 Stade FranÃ§ais Leeds Carnegie 26 - 6 Bucureşti Bourgoin-Jallieu 28 - 0 Newcastle Falcons Montpellier 32 - 30 Exeter Chiefs Connacht 83 - 7 Cavalieri Prato Harlequins 39 - 17 Bayonne Cetransa El Salvador 5 - 50 Sale Sharks Petrarca Padova 20 - 24 Brive Gloucester Rugby 60 - 7 Agen La Rochelle 71 - 17 Rovigo
The race for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals is set to reach a dramatic conclusion this weekend with final round of Pool action.
French challengers Stade Francais, Brive and La Rochelle are already through to the last eight, where they look likely to be joined by Harlequins and Montpellier - plus three group runners-up from the Heineken Cup - but all could change as the matches play out this weekend.
In Pool 1, Harlequins have their destiny in their own hands when they play host to rivals Bayonne at The Stoop on Saturday. Quins routed Cavalieri Prato last time out while Bayonne slipped to a shock home defeat to Connacht.
"We have now won our last six matches in all competitions and playing some pretty good rugby," commented Quins director of rugby Conor O'Shea. "We also have a fine home record in recent times and we are both proud of that record and keen to keep it going. "However, we are well aware that Bayonne have beaten some top sides like Castres Olympique, Toulon and Stade Francais Paris in recent Top 14 matches and they are a side who play good rugby, are very physical, have good ball carriers and players like fly half Benjamin Boyet and others at the back such as Johan Pietersen and Pepito Elhorga who can cause problems for anyone."
In Pool 3, victory for Montpellier over Exeter at the Stade Yves-du-Manoir will see them edge out the Chiefs for a quarter-final berth. Elsewhere, Newcastle and Bourgoin will be playing for nothing but pride.
"A quarter-final could potentially be a very big game," said Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter. "Some big names could drop down from the Heineken Cup to be part of it. It's good for us but the most important thing is going to Montpellier with something to play for. To travel abroad with a real reason to play will be fantastic. It's definitely more intense now and the players understand that, but ambitious players want to play in big games."
In Pool 5, La Rochelle booked their place in the last eight on Thursday with a comfortable win over Rovigo at the Stade Marcel Deflandre. Gloucester failed to snatch that place despite a crushing victory over Agen at Kingsholm.
Pool 2 winners Brive take on Petraca Padova at the Stadio Plebiscito on Saturday while a youthful Sale Sharks side travels to the Campo de Pepe Rojo to take on Cetransa El Salvador
Stade Francais, the only undefeated team in the competition, take on Pool 4 also-rans Crociati Rugby at the Stadio XXV Aprile on Sunday with Leeds Carnegie tackling Bucureşti the same day.
The five Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners and the three teams who finish as the third, fourth and fifth ranked Heineken Cup Pool runners-up qualify for the knock-out stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
The top four Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners will have home advantage with the quarter-finalists ranked accordingly:
(ii) The quarter-final pairings will be:
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