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Lowry leads Heineken Champions Cup in 3 categories

By Kim Ekin
Michael Lowry /PA

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Combat resumes in the Heineken Champions Cup this weekend, with a new format set to play out for the first time in Europe’s flagship tournament.

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For the first time in the competition’s history, the Round of 16 will be played over two legs. Aggregate scores will determine the winners with the four highest-ranked clubs from each pool having earned home advantage in the second leg matches.

The qualifiers for the Round of 16 have a total of 28 European titles between them.

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Six former tournament winners – Exeter Chiefs, Leicester Tigers, Leinster Rugby, Munster Rugby, Stade Toulousain and Ulster Rugby – remain in contention to lift the coveted silverware in Marseille next month.

There’s just one Welsh side left in either of the two competitions, with Cardiff qualifying for the Challenge Cup Round of 16. The former champions made it via the pool stage back door.

The EPCR have released a selection of statistics ahead of the resumption of the Heineken Champions Cup this weekend and there’s some cracker in there.

The in-form Ulster full back, Michael Lowry, leads the tournament statistics in three categories: metres (563), defenders beaten (23) and line breaks (8).

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Lowry’s teammate, Nick Timoney, has made the most tackles do date with 61.

Grégory Alldritt of last season’s defeated finalists, Stade Rochelais, and Ulster’s James Hume are the joint-best offloaders with seven apiece.

Marcus Smith of Harlequins, who travel to Montpellier Hérault, is the tournament’s leading scorer with 46 points going into the knockout stage while Exeter Chiefs’ Sam Simmonds heads the try-scoring charts with an impressive seven from his four matches.

Extra time and, if necessary, a place kick competition will feature in the event of tied matches during the knockout stage of the tournament with the exception of this weekend’s first leg fixtures.

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Freddie Burns of Leicester Tigers, who has previously featured with Bath and Gloucester, needs five points to reach 250 tournament points.

Simon Zebo’s two tries in Munster’s Round 4 win against Wasps lifted his career total for the Heineken Champions Cup to 34, moving him ahead of Brian O’Driscoll as Ireland’s leading try scorer in the tournament. Chris Ashton, now with Leicester Tigers, continues to lead the way on 40.

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Following the conclusion of the Heineken Champions Cup pool stage, six clubs qualified for the EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16: Cardiff Rugby, Wasps, Castres Olympique, Glasgow Warriors, Northampton Saints and Bath Rugby.

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