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European wrap: Scarlets clinch thriller as Leinster secure perfect record

Charlie Peat
21 January 2018

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The final round of European fixtures did not disappoint as ten Guinness PRO14 took to the field in a dramatic Saturday.

Scarlets produced a stunning victory over Toulon, Leinster impressed in France and Connacht racked up yet another victory.

Here’s the lowdown on anything you might have missed from an action-packed Saturday in the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.

Glasgow Warriors 28-21 Exeter Chiefs

Dave Rennie will be delighted not only with the victory against English champions Exeter Chiefs but with returning full-back Stuart Hogg’s impressive display.

The Scotland international crossed within two minutes before Sam Simmonds levelled things up for the Chiefs just before the break.

But stunning tries from Tommy Seymour and Matt Ferguson, as well as a penalty try, capped off a scintillating display at Scoutstoun.

The Warriors haven’t enjoyed the best Champions Cup campaign but capping off their pool campaign with victory will stand Rennie’s men in good stead heading back to into Guinness PRO14 business.

Montpellier 14-23 Leinster

Leinster put down a real marker to their European rivals as they produced a dominant victory over Montpellier at the Altrad Stadium.

The Irish province had already secured top spot in the pool but tries from Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw and Sean Cronin means it’s a six wins from six so far in the competition.

This was Leinster’s first triumph in France for three years and a home quarter-final now awaits Leo Cullen’s men.

Finishing with a perfect record in a group containing Exeter Chiefs and Glasgow Warriors – Leinster have shown they are a force to be reckoned with on the continental stage.

Clermont Auvergne 24-7 Ospreys

A battle draw with Saracens last week, a daunting trip to Clermont Auvergne was a step too far for Ospreys as they bowed out of Europe.

Ashley Beck’s try was the one bright spark in a battling display against the French outfit, who went over twice courtesy of Nick Abendanon and Luke McAlister late on.

Ospreys will be concerned by the shoulder injury sustained by Welsh international Dan Biggar as they finished second in Pool Two.

The Welsh side will now fully focus on getting their Guinness PRO14 campaign back on track – currently in sixth place in Conference A

Scarlets 30-27 RC Toulon

Scarlets produced a vintage home display to down Toulon and advance to the quarter-finals as pool winners.

A record Pac y Scarlets crowd of 14,476 oversaw a sparkling night for Scarlets, who become the first Welsh region to make it to the last eight of the Champions Cup in six years.

Tries from Tom Prydie, Hadleigh Parks and Dan Jones, who also kicked 12 points, secured the narrowest of victories.

Francois Trinh-Duc missed a last-gasp penalty to bring the scores level as Scarlets celebrating the three-point triumph.

Benetton 28-47 Bath

An encouraging second half display from Benetton will do their league campaign the world of good as they bowed out of Europe in a thrilling defeat at home to Bath.

Bath ran over five tries in the first half thanks to Tom Dunn, a penalty try, Matt Banahan, Joseph Watson and Jonathan Jospeh.

But back came the Italians with Luca Sperandio, Sebastien Negri, Tommaso Benvenuti and Monty Ioane all crossing to collect a bonus-point.

Lyon 18-21 Cardiff Blues

Lloyd and Tomos Williams ensured Cardiff Blues would top their pool as they came through a tense afternoon in Lyon.

Jarrod Evans set up and converted both tries for Danny Wilson’s men who will head to Edinburgh in the quarter-finals.

Dylan Cretin scored straight from the kick-off in what was a disastrous start for the Blues the way in which they managed to refocus and take command of the contest will make them a dangerous prospect in the competition.

Connacht 50-14 Oyonnax

Winger Niyi Adeolokun delivered a stellar performance as Connacht secured a home draw in the Challenge Cup quarter-final with a bruising victory over Oyonnax.

Adeolokun crossed the line three times at the Sportsground with Bundee Aki, Tiernan O’Halloran, Matt Healy, Tom Farrell and a penalty try saw Connacht rattle up 50 points.

Oyonnax made 10 changes for the contest but this was a fine display from the Irish province who went unbeaten throughout the pool stages.

Dragons 33-17 Bordeaux-Begles

Dragons produced arguably their most complete performance of the season as Bernard Jackman’s men dominated Bordeaux.

Touchdowns from hooker Elliot Dee, captain and lock Cory Hill, right-wing Ashton Hewitt, Lloyd Fairbrother and substitute Pat Howard ensured a commanding victory at Rodney Parade.

Brive’s victory over Worcester means Dragons will depart the competition but this display will give Jackman some hope for the remainder of the Guinness PRO14 campaign.

Zebre 38-30 Agen

Zebre bowed out of the Challenge  Cup with their first win of the competition against French side Agen.

A lightning start saw three tries in the opening six minutes as Loris Tolot and Alban Conduche went over for Agen before Marcello Violi fired back for Zebre.

And Giulio Bisegni, Matteo Minozzi and Joahn Meyer all helped complete the comeback with dot downs to sign off their European campaign on a high.

Stade Francais 17-10 Edinburgh Rugby

Two tries from Edinburgh in the second half wasn’t enough to stop defending Challenge Cup champions Stade Francais triumphing.

Paul Alo-Emile and Jonathan Danty crossed in the first eight minutes for the home side before Damien Hoyland and Dougie Fife crashed over in an improved second half showing by Richard Cockerill’s men.

But the defeat means Edinburgh will host Cardiff Blues in the quarter-finals in a mouth-watering prospect next month.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

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