Heineken Cup: Week 6 Review


Pool 1

Munster ensured that they would have a home quarter-final in the Heineken Cup after they ran out 51-36 winners over Northampton Saints in an epic encounter at Stadium:MK. Simon Zebo scored a superb hat-trick of tries for the Irish side while Ronan O'Gara was in fine form with the boot as he kicked 24 points. The Saints put up a brave fight and recorded three tries of their own, including a wonderful solo effort from youngster Scott Armstrong, but they were no match for a brilliant Muster outfit who charged into the last eight with this stunning win.


Scarlets took a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup after they secured an impressive 16-13 victory away at Castres on Saturday. Tries from Mat Gilbert and Aaron Shingler as well as a penalty each for Rhys Priestland and Stephen Jones proved too much for the French side who could only respond with a converted Yannick Forestier score and two penalties from Rory Kockett. The win means that the Welsh side finish second in Pool 1 behind Munster and will now travel to face Brive in the last eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup.


Pool 2

Edinburgh were the surprise winners of Pool 2 after they comfortably saw off London Irish 34-11 at Murrayfield and earnt themselves a home quarter-final. The Scottish side also recorded a bonus point as tries from Tim Visser, Jim Thompson, Netani Talei and Lee Jones eased them past their English opponents. London Irish's positive second half performance was rewarded through Jonathan Joseph's score but they could find no answers to an Edinburgh side that were full of confidence and who will be dangerous opposition in the quarter-finals.


One of the best pool runner-up spots went to Cardiff Blues as they edged a superb game against Racing Metro, coming out 36-30 winners. Tries from Lloyd Williams and Alex Cuthbert (2) as well as 21 points from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny meant that the Blues finish behind Edinburgh in Pool 2 but qualify as one of the best second-placed sides. Racing exited the competition with a good performance as Josh Matavesi and Sereli Bobo both touched down for the French outfit but it wasn't enough as they ended joint-bottom of the group with London Irish.


Pool 3

Leinster took a home quarter-final berth after they recorded a straightforward victory over Montpellier to finish top of Pool 3. Tries from Sean O'Brien, Rob Kearney and Cian Healy provided the foundations for the win while Fergus McFadden kicked the remaining ten points as the Irishmen eased to a comfortable success. The French side could only get on the scoreboard through a penalty by Martin Bustos Moyano and they will be hugely disappointed with their Heineken Cup campaign as they finish bottom of the group.

There will no place in the quarter-finals for Glasgow Warriors as their gallant campaign was ended by a 23-18 defeat away at Bath. Both sides recorded two tries each, Tom Biggs and Ben Skirving going over for Bath while Tommy Seymour and Rob Harley landed scores for the visitors. However it was the boot of Olly Barkley that made the difference as 13 points from the former England man ensured that Bath ended their disappointing Heineken Cup on a high note.


Pool 4

Ulster failed to secure a home quarter-final as they went down 19-15 away at Clermont Auvergne, the win putting the French side into the last eight at the same time. The Irish side put in a solid performance away from home and five penalties from Ruan Pienaar looked to have put them in a good position to take the win. However, 14 points from the boot of Morgan Parra as well as a crucial try from Ti'i Paulo meant that Clermont sealed the win they desperately needed and ensured Ulster will travel away from Ravenhill in the quarter-finals.


Leicester Tigers managed a predictable 33-6 win over whipping boys Aironi but will not be in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals after Clermont's success over Ulster. Tries from Thomas Waldrom, Ben Woods, Geordan Murphy and George Ford meant that the Tigers kept their side of the bargain as they secured a bonus point but it was to no avail as the French side prevailed in their game. Aironi got on the scoreboard through two Naas Olivier penalties but finish bottom of Pool 4 without even a point to their name.


Pool 5

Saracens ground out a tough 26-20 win away at Treviso as they became the only English side to make the Heineken Cup quarter-finals. Mouritz Botha and David Strettle both touched down for Sarries and with Owen Farrell adding 16 points with the boot, the Vicarage Road outfit had the precious win they needed to qualify. Scores from Robert Barbieri and Tommaso Iannone as well as ten points from Kris Burton's boot meant that Treviso made a game of it but the Italian side finish bottom of Pool 5.


Biarritz demolished the Ospreys 36-5 to ensure that there will be no more European competition this season for the Welsh side. A wonderful hat-trick of tries from Taku Ngwenya set the French side on their way and further scores from Benoit Baby and Iain Balshaw meant that Biarritz secured a bonus point and a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals. Ospreys could only respond with a try from hooker Richard Hibbard as their Heineken Cup challenge ended in disappointment but the young Welsh outfit should be proud of some excellent performances they produced during the pool stage.


Pool 6

Harlequins missed a golden opportunity to move into the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup as they slipped to a shock 9-8 defeat at Connacht. A try from Quins winger Sam Smith as well as a penalty from Nick Evans was not enough as three penalties from Connacht's Niall O'Connor ensured that it would be Toulouse who ended top of Pool 6 and not the London side, although they do go into the last eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup. For Connacht it was an excellent night as they recorded their first ever Heineken Cup victory with a gritty display in front of a delighted Galway Sportsground crowd.


Toulouse progressed as winners of Pool 6 despite going down 34-24 in their final group game away at Gloucester. Tries from Timoci Matanavou (2) and Thierry Dusautoir as well as nine points from the boot of Lionel Beauxis gave the French side a good platform to take a win from Kingsholm but it wasn't to be. Scores from Jonny May (2), Akapusi Qera and Charlie Sharples, added to 14 points from Freddie Burns' boot, gave Gloucester a much deserved victory and bonus point to end their Heineken Cup campaign on a positive note as they finish third in the group.


All this means the Heineken Cup quarter-finals are as follows:

    • Munster vs Ulster

    • Leinster vs Cardiff Blues

    • Edinburgh vs Toulouse

    • Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne

Quarter-finals are to be played on the 6/7/8 April