Champions Cup Round of 16 places secured as pool stage heats up

Champions Cup Round of 16 places secured as pool stage heats up

Round 3 of the Heineken Champions Cup produced some exhilarating encounters last weekend as eight teams secured their places in the knockout stage with a game to spare.

Leinster Rugby, Cell C Sharks, Saracens, Exeter Chiefs and Edinburgh Rugby have all ensured their progression from Pool A heading into the final round of pool stage fixtures, with Pool B outfits Stade Toulousain, Stade Rochelais and Leicester Tigers also booking their spots in the next stage.

Round 4 this weekend will be a thrilling watch as teams vie for the remaining eight qualification places and those already qualified gun for top seeding and home advantage in the knockout stage.

Leinster sit top of Pool A after running in seven tries in a 49-14 thrashing of Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm Stadium, their third bonus-point win in three games.


 Sharks are a point adrift of the Irish province having eased to a 32-3 success over Union Bordeaux-Bègles in Durban, Jaden Hendrikse and Marnus Potgieter notching try braces for the hosts as they became the first South African side to seal a Round of 16 berth.

Elliot Daly scored a stunning hat-trick of tries as Saracens romped Lyon 48-28 at StoneX Stadium to move level with Cell C Sharks on 14 points.

Exeter sit fourth on 11 points and are through to the knockout stage despite falling to a 39-28 defeat at Vodacom Bulls, Jack Innard’s late bonus-point try proving crucial for the 2020 champions.

Vodacom Bulls are on the brink of qualification after Wandisile Simelane’s brace helped them to their triumph in Pretoria.

Edinburgh also moved onto 11 points after a battling 34-21 success at Castres Olympique, the Scottish region’s Blair Kinghorn contributing 14 points from the tee despite an early yellow card.



Toulouse lead Pool B after 17 points from the boot of Melvyn Jaminet helped them overpower Sale Sharks 27-5 at the AJ Bell Stadium.

La Rochelle are level with their TOP 14 rivals on 13 points after Joel Sclavi’s last-gasp try saw them beat Ulster Rugby 7-3 at the Stade Marcel Deflandre, with Leicester matching their tally amid their 44-29 victory at ASM Clermont Auvergne, Matt Scott dotting down twice for the visitors.

After Vodacom Bulls, Harlequins are the next best-placed team to advance from Pool A, picking up a bonus point in a pulsating 30-29 loss at Racing 92, who now occupy the final qualification spot.

Gloucester’s Round 1 victory means they are still in contention on five points, while TOP 14 trio Lyon, Bordeaux and Castres remain winless and in precarious positions heading into the pool stage finale.

DHL Stormers’ 28-14 win over 13-man London Irish leaves them within touching distance of the knockout stage, with a third straight defeat for their opponents leaving them second bottom on a solitary point.

Ospreys made it back-to-back triumphs over Montpellier Hérault Rugby with a stunning 35-29 success in Swansea, moving three points clear of the TOP 14 champions and bolstering their qualification hopes.

Munster saw Jack O’Donoghue sent off against Northampton Saints but held on for a 27-23 win at Thomond Park, leaving them in a promising position, one point behind DHL Stormers and Ospreys.

Clermont have six points on the board after one win in three, and will be playing close attention to Sale’s Round 4 result, with the Gallagher Premiership team one point adrift and just outside the qualification places.

Ulster, London Irish and Northampton are the three winless sides in Pool B, with the Irish province retaining faint Round of 16 hopes after picking up three bonus points in their three losses.


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