Guinness PRO14 Champions Cup Wrap: Clean sweep for sides in Europe

Andy Baber
13 January 2019

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It was a super Saturday for the Guinness PRO14 clubs in the Champions Cup as Leinster, Ulster, Edinburgh and Scarlets all enjoyed impressive victories in Round 5.

Holders Leinster moved top of Pool One and guaranteed their quarter-final spot with a round to spare as they overcame Toulouse at the RDS Arena in Dublin.

Ulster also took a huge step towards securing their place in the knockout stages with a hard-fought win over Racing 92 in Belfast, while Edinburgh saw off the challenge of Toulon.

Scarlets also dispatched Leicester Tigers at Parc y Scarlets in the final game of the day to complete a clean sweep of victories for Guinness PRO14 sides on the day.

  • Leinster went into the break 10-6 ahead thanks to Jack Conan’s 35th-minute try, with Ross Byrne adding a conversion and penalty against the Top 14 leaders.
  • Further tries from Dave Kearney, Sean Cronin and Adam Byrne sealed victory for the hosts, before Cheslin Kolbe grabbed a consolation score for Toulouse.
  • A victory against Premiership side Wasps in the final round will ensure Leinster, who ended Toulouse’s 12-match winning run in all competitions, receive a home tie in the last-eight.
  • Ulster were forced to hold off a stirring fightback from Racing 92 at the Kingspan Stadium as they prevailed 26-22 thanks to a brace from Jacob Stockdale.
  • Robert Baloucoune also got on the scoresheet for the hosts, while tries from Virimi Vakatawa, Simon Zebo and Oliver Klemenczak saw the French side push them close.
  • Racing 92 still remain favourites to top the group, with a three-point lead, but Ulster are well place to take one of the three quarter-final spots for the best runners-up.
  • Edinburgh became the first Scottish side and only the third ever to win in Europe at Stade Mayol with a 28-17 triumph to close in on a quarter-final spot.
  • Tries from Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn and James Johnstone helped the visitors get over the line, with Guilhem Guirado, Facundo Isa and Julian Savea crossing for Toulon.
  • A brace from Rob Evans helped Scarlets to a first European victory of the season against Leicester Tigers as they came out on top with a 33-10 win at home.
  • Ken Owens, Johnny McNicholl and Steff Evans also crossed for the Welsh region to clinch the bonus point, with Will Evans and Michael Fitzgerald scoring for the visitors.

What they said

Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale said: “This is a massive performance from us and massive achievement. We are really pleased with how we played.

“To topple a French side like Racing is really something special, but that’s the job only half done – next week we have Leicester away and our eyes are firmly set on that.”

“Sometimes the ball sits up for you, sometimes it doesn’t and I was just lucky that it bounced pretty nicely for me. We are just happy to get over the line and come away with the win.

“Whenever you give a team like Racing a chance to go forward and you miss your tackles they are always going to punish you and credit to them they played an incredibly good game.”

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said: “We came with a plan, we had to stick to the plan. We controlled the game in that second half and it’s probably the best we’ve played.

“There’s a huge amount of pride in what we’ve done today. We’ve put ourselves in a great position to qualify. Our fans are chanting our name and this is a club that’s building slowly.

“We haven’t qualified yet, I want to win next week, I want a home quarter-final. We want to get the satisfaction of winning the group.”

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: “There was a little bit of flashes of the old Scarlets there. I thought it ticked most of the boxes for us.

“Whichever competition you are in, you want to put a display for your fans and we have not done that for quite a few weeks. Ken Owens deserves all the praise he receives.

“It was one thing playing No.8 as a one-off but to come into a European game like this and again be asked to play out of position shows what a great guy he is and he always puts the team first.”

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said: “Conditions were difficult out there but we managed possession quite well in the first half. Toulouse had this big wall of defenders the whole time and our guys showed good patience to keep hold of the ball.

“It was much better at the start of the second half where we played in their half of the field and picked off a few scores when they came along.

“I’m delighted for the guys, we had a lot of young guys out there today and it was a huge step up for them. We’re delighted to get that win. It was a very positive step for a lot of our younger guys.”

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