French clubs seal Amlin dominance
January 22, 2011
Leeds' Alfie To'oala is engulfed by Bucuresti defenders at Headingley © Getty Images
Crociati Rugby 17 - 34 Stade Français Yorkshire 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
After the final round of Pool action in the Amlin Challenge Cup, Stade Francais, Brive, La Rochelle, Harlequins and Montpellier emerged as Pool winners and will be joined in the quarter-finals by Heineken Cup drop-outs Wasps, Clermont Auvergne and Munster.
On Saturday, Exeter Chiefs suffered a heartbreaking exit as a late try from Montpellier's Quentin Doumayrou consigned the Chiefs to a 32-30 defeat at the Stade Yves du Manoir on Saturday night, with Fabien Galthie's side progressing to a quarter-final against Stade Francais.
The other scheduled game in the group, Bourgoin's clash with Newcastle Falcons, was postponed for a second successive day on Sunday due to a frozen pitch, and the outcome of the fixture will now be considered by the European Rugby Cup board.
Stade beat Crociati Rugby 34-17 to progress into the quarter finals 10 points clear of their Pool 4 rivals, with winger Djibril Camara chipping in with a brace.
Also in that Pool, Leeds ended their campaign with a 26-6 victory over Bucuresti at Headingley on Sunday. The hosts were facing up to a shock defeat as they trailed 6-5 at half time but hit back through tries from Marco Wentzel, Miguel Alonso and Luther Burrell and three conversions from Chris Lewis-Pratt.
Harlquins claimed their place in the knockout rounds with a commanding 39-17 victory over Bayonne in their pool decider at the Stoop on Saturday, setting up an all-English quarter against Wasps. A brace of tries from livewire centre George Lowe proved the turning point after the visitors had led 14-13 at the break courtesy of Ross Filipo's touchdown and three penalties from Cedric Garcia.
Elsewhere, Connacht recorded their biggest victory in Europe. The Irish province ran in 12 tries in an 83-7 victory over Cavalieri Prato. Brian Tuohy scored a hat-trick of tries, while Ian Keatley bagged a 26-point haul.
Sale bowed out of the tournament with a predictably straightforward 50-5 victory over Cetransa El Salvador in Valladolid on Saturday afternoon, but the headlines in Pool 2 were reserved for Brive, who made it six wins from six with a surprisingly hard-fought 24-20 victory away to Petrarca Padova. Their reward is a tough home tie against European giants Munster.
Gloucester suffered a similar fate to Sale as they romped to an emphatic 60-7 victory over Agen on Friday night but their comprehensive win was not enough to progress to the knockout stages.
The result was academic as La Rochelle topped Pool 5 and qualified for the quarter-finals of a European competition for the first time with a predictable 71-17 victory over Italian minnows Rovigo. They will need to find an extra gear in the last eight when they take on Top 14 champions Clermont Auvergne.
Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals (to be played over weekend of April 30 and May 1):
Stade Francais v Montpellier
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland