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Weekend Round-Up: High Tension as Quarter-Final Line-Up Decided

Weekend Round-Up: High Tension as Quarter-Final Line-Up Decided
Boiling-a-frog rugby at its slow-burn best - Toulouse v Connacht in pool 2 of the Champions Cup

Catch up on the biggest games from the final round of Champions Cup pool play.

Castres Olympique v Leinster
Full Game | Condensed
Three-time European champions Leinster qualified for the last eight of the Champions Cup last week with a disciplined and clinical deconstruction of Montpellier. Castres’ faint hopes of the last eight rested on an as-yet undiscovered branch of mathematics on the far side of chaos theory. The only question was whether the Pro 12 side could make certain of home advantage in the quarter-finals. Ten minutes in, the answer seemed evident. But 70 exciting, error-strewn, entertaining, exhausting minutes later, when the players dragged their shattered bodies off the field, no one could be entirely certain what was going to happen next.

Clermont v Exeter
Full Game | Condensed
Sadly for France and the Six Nations, Wesley Fofana’s rapier edge will not grace the fast-approaching tournament, after he ruptured his achilles during Clermont’s final Pool 5 match at home to Exeter. But that was not the game’s only incident of note. Five tries in the first half and four in the second ensured a high-scoring finale at Stade Marcel Michelin, as the hosts looked to secure top-seeding – and a home tie against the side that scraped into the last of the eight quarter-final places… which, as it turns out, was Top 14 arch rivals Toulon.

Ulster v Bordeaux
Full Game | Condensed
The Champions Cup quarter-finals were out of reach before these two sides met at the Kingspan – but don’t let the fact that this was a dead rubber put you off. The two teams and the near-15,000 crowd in Belfast certainly didn’t. Hammers, tongs and kitchen sinks were involved from first whistle to last, as both sides signed off their European campaigns for the season in entertaining style. The result was still in the balance with less than 10 minutes to go, after the visitors had raced into an early lead – only to be pegged back by Les Kiss’s hosts.

Toulouse v Connacht
Full Game | Condensed
Pool 2’s final round served up this match of boiling-a-frog rugby at its slow-burn best. The equation was complicated and the permutations appeared endless, as both sides had every chance of a quarter-final place. But it broke down to this: Connacht, aiming to become the fourth Pro 12 side – and the third from Ireland – to reach the last eight, could not afford to let the four-time champions get away from them. A losing bonus point would be enough. Early in the second half, it looked as if Pat Lam’s visitors had blown it, after the four-time champions had run in three unopposed tries. Then, the fightback began – and over the closing 25 minutes, the intensity was slowly ramped up all the way to 11 and beyond.

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Weekend Round-Up: High Tension as Quarter-Final Line-Up Decided