Bath secure top seeding with big win
January 20, 2013
Bath's Jack Cuthbert stretches the Bucuresti defence during their clash at The Rec © Getty Images
The line-up for this season's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals is complete following the final round of pool action in the Heineken Cup.
Bath, Gloucester, Perpignan, London Wasps and Stade Francais all booked their places in the last eight with Leinster, Toulouse and Biarritz joining them from the Heineken Cup. Bath will tackle Stade Francais in the last eight, Gloucester will take on Biarritz, Perpignan will face Toulouse and London Wasps will tackle Leinster.
Bath made it six-wins-from-six with a 53-8 victory over Bucaresti in their Pool 4 clash at The Rec on Saturday to claim top seeding for the quarter-finals. The Premiership side ran in nine tries against their Romanian rivals with fullback Jack Cuthbert bagging a hat-trick. A first-half brace from Cuthbert helped the hosts power into a 24-3 lead by half-time with hooker Tom Dunn also crossing. Winger Horacio Agulla and back row Nick Koster helped add to the total early in the second-half before Will Skuse and Chris Cook also got their names on the score sheet.
Bath's reward is a quarter-final date with Stade Francais who booked their passage with a 39-17 victory over London Welsh. The Top 14 side notched three tries in either half to over-power their Premiership opponents with France captain Pascal Pape among the try-scorers in Valenciennes. The victory was enough to usurp Grenoble at the top of Pool 5 and pull them level on points with title rivals Perpignan and Wasps but they progress as the lowest seed due to their inferior trycount.
Gloucester wrapped up an unbeaten Pool 1 campaign with a 36-16 victory over Mont-de-Marsan at Kingsholm on Saturday. Winger Jonny May and centre Henry Trinder led the way with two tries apiece as the Premiership side underlined their title credentials. The French side threatened to make it a real contest with a first half try from flanker Yann Brethous but they failed to add to their score in the second period. .
London Wasps wrapped up their Pool 3 campaign with a narrow 20-19 victory at Newport Gwent Dragons on Thursday night. Wasps were already assured of a quarter-final place but were eager to improve their ranking and did thanks largely to fly-half Nick Robinson who weighed in with a try, two penalties and two conversions with a penalty try rounding out the scoring. The Dragons were on level terms at the break thanks to a try of their own from fly-half Dan Evans but the kicking exploits of Tom Prydie and Steffan Jones were not enough to overhaul the hosts.
Elsewhere on Thursday, Farid Sid ran in two tries and Gilles Bosch added 10 points with the boot as Perpignan beat Rovigo 40-22 to take control of Pool 2. A penalty try and further scores from Armand Batlle, Kisi Pulu and replacement James Hook put the hosts out of sight at the Stade Aime Giral. Worcester pulled level on points with Perpignan thanks to an 11-try 71-19 victory over Bizkaia Gernika RT - with Josh Drauniniu, Errie Claassens and Nikki Walker all grabbing two tries - but they miss out on a place in the last eight due to the fact that the Catalans outscored them three-tries-to-one in their clashes.
In the weekend's other games, Grenoble went top of Pool 5 temporarily with a thumping 47-0 win over Cavalieri Prato only to be overtaken by Stade Francais. In the other Pool 4 clash, Agen beat Calvisano 19-9 to secure their third win of their campaign but it was not enough for them to progress.
London Irish notched their fourth win of the campaign with a 17-7 win against Bordeaux Begles with Jonathan Joseph and Marland Yarde touching down but their hopes of progressing from Pool 1 had already faded. And in Pool 3, Italian minnows Mogliano were thumped 0-54 by Bayonne to leave them win-less.
Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals
The top four Challenge Cup Pool winners will enjoy home advantage in the quarter-finals with the top Pool winner playing the 5th, while the other three Pool winners will welcome the three qualifiers from the Heineken Cup.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game