Weekend round-up: Unbeaten Leinster secure top seeding

Rich Dore
18 January 2020

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There was plenty to play for as a host of Guinness PRO14 sides played the final pool stage games of their Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup campaigns.

While some finished their pool stage commitments with victory, others were left wondering what could have been as they exited the European stage.

Here’s how the Guinness PRO14 sides got on in their respective clashes on Saturday.

Six of the best for Leinster

A meeting with bottom side Benetton meant Leinster were always likely to fancy their chances of making it six wins from six in the Champions Cup this term.

They did not have it all their own way though, and Benneton could count themselves unlucky to trail 3-0 at the break after enjoying sustained pressure in the first period.

Second-half tries from Caelan Doris and James Tracy settled matters after the interval and ensure Leinster go into the quarter-finals as top seeds after completing a perfect pool stage.

Ulster finish second

Ulster came into the weekend needing a win to guarantee their place in the business end of the competition yet still with dreams of overhauling Pool 3 leaders Clermont.

A 26-19 victory for Clermont from the French side’s entertaining clash with Harlequins meant Ulster could not take top spot.

Nonetheless, the Ravenhill Stadium club got the job done against Bath with a 22-15 victory in what proved to be a well-contested clash.

The sides went in level at 7-7 at half-time before Ulster pulled away with Marcell Coetzee, Robert Baloucoune and Will Addison all crossing at the Kingspan Stadium.

Warriors keep slender hopes alive

A bonus-point win was the only way Glasgow Warriors could keep their quarter-final ambitions on track and they duly delivered.

A resounding 45-7 defeat of Sale Sharks, in which Warriors ran in six tries, means the Scottish side sit second in Pool 2 with 17 points.

Leone Nakarawa was making his return to the side and took no time making an impact, with a try after just three minutes. They continued to pile on the pressure, and when Sam Johnson went over eight minutes into the second half, they had the bonus point they needed to stay in the hunt.

However, a spot in the last eight remains unlikely, with Warriors needing both Saracens and Gloucester to suffer defeat in their fixtures tomorrow if they are to progress as one of three best runners-up.

Blues out despite thumping win

There is not much more Cardiff Blues could have done to advance in the Challenge Cup after they recorded a thumping 64-3 victory over Calvisano.

When you need favours from elsewhere your results can ultimately count for nothing as proved the case for the Welsh outfit.

Pau’s success over Leicester Tigers, who with 23 points were already through as Pool 5 winners, meant the Blues’ win, which featured a hat-trick from Lewis Jones, was only enough for third.

Zebre denied at the last

Second spot in Pool 4 eluded Zebre as they were held to a 7-7 stalemate in a tense clash with Bristol Bears.

For so long it looked as though the Italians would seal a narrow victory by virtue of Jimmy Tuivaiti’s 37th minute try and Carlo Canna’s conversion.

But it wasn’t to be, and Bristol substitute Harry Randall drove over to level the scores with time up as Zebre’s 14 men had to settle for a draw.

Darcy stars for Edinburgh

Five tries scored and 36 points without reply represents a decent day at the office for an Edinburgh side who will be in the final eight of this year’s Challenge Cup.

Darcy Graham will also reflect on a productive personal afternoon which saw the Scotland international end the day with four tries.

The winger had his hat-trick all sewn up by half-time and added a fourth after the restart as a rampant Edinburgh stormed to victory.


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