Connacht overturned a 10-point half-time deficit to qualify for the Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a 24-24 draw at Worcester Warriors on Saturday.
Worcester needed a win to keep their hopes of topping Pool 5 alive and looked to be in control as they ran in four first-half tries to go in at the break 24-14 in front, with John Muldoon and Niyi Adeolokun crossing for the Irish province, who ended the half with 13 men.
However, they could only convert two of those touchdowns and that profligacy from the tee would come back to haunt the Premiership strugglers, as Tiernan O’Halloran went over and Craig Ronaldson kicked five points to clinch the draw.
The result moves Connacht onto an unassailable 21 points at the summit ahead of the final round of fixtures, with Worcester’s bonus point only enough to close the gap to six, although they could yet qualify as one of three second-placed teams.
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) January 13, 2018
Brive later pulled within three points of Worcester with a 29-19 win against eliminated Oyonnax.
Pau and Gloucester will face off for Pool 3’s automatic qualification spot after the Top 14 side moved back to the top of the standings with a 42-14 demolition of Zebre.
The French club now lead the Cherry and Whites by three points ahead of their clash at Kingsholm on Friday.
Sale Sharks’ second win of the campaign – 15-13 at home to Lyon – opened the door for Cardiff Blues to potentially clinch Pool 2 with a win over Toulouse on Sunday, while London Irish thumped Krasny Yar 47-17 in a clash between Pool 4’s bottom two sides.
The day’s remaining fixture saw second-placed Bordeaux Begles pull five points clear of the Dragons with a 36-28 win at Stade Chaban-Delmas, although Pool 1 looks set to be won by Newcastle Falcons when they host winless Enisei STM on Sunday.