Several Guinness Six Nations stars were in action for their club sides this weekend, as the domestic seasons reach their respective semi-final stages.
The final rounds of the Premiership and Top 14 regular season had plenty on the line, while the United Rugby Championship reached the quarter-final stages.
Saints secure fourth spot as Tigers finish top
The final round of the Premiership was a try fest, with 58 tries scored across the six matches, averaging an astonishing 9.7 tries a game.
14 of those tries were scored at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, as Saints qualified for the semi-finals in style, scoring ten tries of their own against Newcastle Falcons.
England flanker Lewis Ludlam captained his side to glory on his 100th Saints appearance, scoring a try as Saints won 65-26, with Wales captain Dan Biggar scoring 15 points to ensure Saints’ season continued into next week.
They warded off Gloucester Rugby’s charge for the final play-off spot, as the Cherry and Whites ran in eight tries of their own in a 54-7 win over Saracens, with Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit on the scoresheet.
Saints will visit Mattioli Woods Welford Road next week after Tigers sealed top spot with a 20-10 victory over Wasps, with England full-back Freddie Steward scoring the key try in the second half.
Chiefs finish strongly in Sandy Park thriller
Scotland captain Stuart Hogg inspired Exeter Chiefs to a 47-38 win over reigning champions Harlequins in a 13-try thriller at Sandy Park.
Hogg scored Chiefs’ second try and set up Sam Maunder’s score late on to seal the victory, with fellow Scotland star Jonny Gray also crossing the whitewash for the Chiefs, as England back Jack Nowell marked his return with a score.
Quins themselves impressed, as England star Marcus Smith started off a move from his own tryline which was expertly finished off by Louis Lynagh, who is hoping to make his England debut this summer.
Elsewhere, Worcester Warriors avoided bottom spot with a 43-27 comeback win over Bath Rugby at Sixways while Sale Sharks finished the season well with a 42-19 win over Bristol at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Ulster win all-Irish affair
Ireland centre James Hume inspired Ulster to a 36-17 win over Irish rivals Munster at Kingspan Stadium in the quarter-final stages.
Hume scored Ulster’s fifth try midway through the second half to ensure safe passage through to the last four, with Nick Timoney also scoring and young Ireland U20 full-back Stewart Moore scoring a first-half brace as Keith Earls’ double in the second half wasn’t enough for Munster to advance through to the semi-finals.
Ulster will travel to South Africa to face the Stormers after they edged Edinburgh 28-17 at DHL Stadium, with tries from Scottish duo Dave Cherry and Henry Pyrgos unable to prevent the South African side from advancing to the final four.
Leinster score 12 to host semi-final
Leinster also advanced to the semi-final stages after a comprehensive 76-14 win over Glasgow Warriors at the RDS Arena.
Irish stars Jordan Larmour and Dan Sheehan both scored two tries, while Caelan Doris, Jamison Gibson-Park and Garry Ringrose all scored tries of their own as Leinster bounced back from late heartbreak in the Heineken Champions Cup final last weekend.
They will host The Bulls in the semi-finals on Friday night after they narrowly beat The Sharks 30-27 at Loftus Versfeld in an all-South African affair.
Castres and Montpellier seal top spots
There was much to play for in the Top 14 as teams battled for top two, top six and top eight.
Montpellier, Castres and Bordeaux Begles were all chasing automatic semi-final spots heading into the dramatic final fixtures.
It was Castres who sealed top spot with a 26-16 victory over Pau at the Stade du Hameau.
Montpellier secured second spot despite losing 20-15 to Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Marcel Michelin, with two former France internationals Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez inspiring Clermont to a vital victory in their final games at the club, sealing European qualification for next season.
With Montpellier losing, Bordeaux had the chance to finish second and avoid a quarter-final but could not overcome Perpignan, falling 22-15 to finish third.
Toulouse run riot to set up La Rochelle re-match
Reigning champions Toulouse showed why they are just that as they ran in 12 tries against already relegated Biarritz in an 80-7 win at Stade Ernest Wallon.
France Grand Slam winners Julien Marchand, Antoine Dupont, Thomas Ramos, Anthony Jelonch and Peato Mauvaka all crossed for scores, while Matthis Lebel finished off two tries.
They will face La Rochelle next week after the European champions held out for a 29-26 win over European Challeng Cup winners Lyon.
France stars Dylan Cretin and Baptiste Couilloud scored for Lyon who raced into a 19-5 half-time lead, but La Rochelle showed the same resilience they as against Leinster last weekend and scored four second half tries, including one from Uini Atonio to seal a mouth-watering quarter-final match-up with Toulouse, in a repeat of last year’s final.
Racing to visit Bordeaux as Brive avoid drop
Racing 92 will travel to Bordeaux next week as they managed to edge out Toulon at La Defense Arena.
Toulon led for much of the encounter, but Juan Imhoff’s try midway through the second half was enough for Racing to seal safe passage into the quarter-final stage, with Nolann Le Garrec kicking five vital points off the bench.
That result meant Toulon missed out on Heineken Champions Cup qualification despite finishing eighth, dropping out of the top competition at the expense of Lyon, who qualify via Challenge Cup success.
Elsewhere, Brive ensured they avoided the relegation play-off match with a 33-17 win over Stade Français at the Stade Jean Bouin.