Guinness Six Nations stars come to the fore in European Round of 16

Jonathan Danty and Romain Ntamack tackles Ellis Genge 19/3/2022
Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship Antoine Dupont scored a late try to seal a Toulouse comeback against Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium and see his side through to the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship Antoine Dupont scored a late try to seal a Toulouse comeback against Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium and see his side through to the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals.

France’s 2022 Grand Slam-winning captain scored in the 74th minute and Thomas Ramos converted as Toulouse won 30-23 to seal a 50-49 aggregate win and advance to the last eight.

John Cooney’s penalty shortly after Tom O’Toole was sent off appeared to be sending the home side through, but it was not to be for the Belfast-based team as Dupont shattered their dreams of making the last eight.

Harlequins also suffered a one-point aggregate defeat, as despite beating Montpellier 33-20 at the Twickenham Stoop, the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions lost 60-59 on aggregate after a 40-26 defeat in France last week.

However, Harlequins did manage to score one of the tries of the Champions Cup so far with England star Marcus Smith breaking through several would-be tacklers before finding Cadan Murley who set up Smith’s international teammate Joe Marchant who finished off a memorable try in front of the home faithful.

Smith missed the chance to land the winning conversion and secure another infamous Harlequins comeback after Louis Lynagh’s try, but it was not to be.

One side who did secure a comeback win to advance through to the quarter-finals was Munster. Ireland fly-half Joey Carbery’s haul of 21 points saw the side from Limerick to a 26-10 win over Exeter Chiefs at Thomond Park on the day and a 34-23 aggregate win overall.

As a result, Munster will meet defending champions Toulouse in a mammoth quarter-final clash between two of Europe’s heavyweights at the Aviva Stadium.

Leicester Tigers finished the job off against Clermont Auvergne with a 27-17 win at Mattioli Woods Welford Road to seal a comfortable 56-27 aggregate win and secure a place in the last eight where they will meet Leinster in a repeat of the 2009 final.

England full-back Freddie Steward scored late on to settle any nerves after Ollie Chessum’s red card, as Tigers’ incredible season continues.

Similarly, La Rochelle made their first-leg advantage count with a 31-23 win over Bordeaux-Bègles that ensured a relatively comfortable 62-36 aggregate victory and set up a tie with Montpellier, with 2022 Player of the Championship nominee and France No.8 Gregory Alldritt crossing for a second-half score.

Racing 92, with Scotland fly-half Finn Russell pulling the strings, won the second all-French tie on Sunday after they survived a first-half scare to win 33-22 at Paris La Défense Arena and 55-31 on aggregate as France international Teddy Thomas scored a double.

They will host Sale Sharks in the French capital in the last eight after they beat Bristol Bears on Friday.

Challenge Cup

In the European Challenge Cup, Edinburgh Rugby joined fellow Scottish side Glasgow Warriors in the last eight with a resounding 41-19 win over Bath Rugby.

England flanker Sam Underhill gave the away side the lead after just one minute and crossed again after 25 after Emiliano Boffelli’s score.

Scrum-half Ben Spencer, who featured in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final for England, scored a try just before half-time to put Bath into a 19-15 lead, but Edinburgh scored 26 unanswered points in the second half as Scotland stars Pierre Schoeman and Mark Bennett went over.

Their reward is a quarter-final against Wasps at the DAM Health Stadium.

Scotland fly-half Adam Hastings’ 11-point haul saw Gloucester safely through to the last eight as they defeated 14-man Northampton Saints 31-21 after Hastings’ opposite man and Wales captain Dan Biggar was sent off early in the first half.

The Cherry and Whites will return to Kingsholm to face Saracens in the last eight, after Owen Farrell inspired Mark McCall’s side to a 40-33 win over Cardiff Rugby at StoneX Stadium on Sunday.

Farrell scored 15 points and ran the game perfectly, with Scotland winger Sean Maitland landing a try double and England back three ace Max Malins also dotting for the Londoners.

Cardiff fought all game with Wales internationals Tomos Williams, Owen Lane and Rhys Carré all scoring tries, as Rhys Priestland scored 17 points for the Welsh side, but ultimately, they came up just short.

And in the final European clash of the weekend, Toulon held off stern competition to beat Benetton 36-17 at the Stade Felix Mayol.

France internationals Gabin Villière and Charles Ollivon scored tries in the first half for the Rouge et Noir, while Les Bleus fly-half Louis Carbonel kicked Toulon to glory with 21 points from the tee.

There were tries for Italy internationals Monty Ioane and Tommaso Menoncello but it was not to be for the Italian side.

Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals (5-7 May) Leicester Tigers v Leinster Rugby (Mattioli Woods Welford Road)

La Rochelle v Montpellier (Stade Marcel-Deflandre)

Racing 92 v Sale Sharks (Paris La Défense Arena)

Munster v Toulouse (Aviva Stadium)

European Challenge Cup quarter-finals (5-7 May)

Toulon v London Irish (Stade Mayol)

Lyon v Glasgow Warriors (Matmut Stadium de Gerland)

Edinburgh Rugby v Wasps (DAM Health Stadium)

Gloucester Rugby v Saracens (Kingsholm)