We continue our account of gripping Heineken Champions Cup season with a recap of Round 4, which featured a host of thrilling encounters as the pool stage concluded.
Stade Francais miracle
Stade Français Paris were reduced to 14 men 34 minutes into their Pool B finale against Connacht Rugby but managed a brilliant 37-31 home victory which ultimately secured their place in the Round of 16.
Adrien Lapegue (2), Ngani Laumape, Kylan Hamdaoui and Ryan Chapuis all dotted down for the TOP 14 side, with four of those scores coming in the second half after hooker Tolu Latu was sent off.
Connacht would still reach the knockout stage after finishing fifth in the pool but were left stunned as Joris Segonds’ last-gasp penalty won it for Stade Français, after tries from Alex Wootton, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell and Jarrad Butler looked to have been enough to see the Irish province home.
Montpellier Hérault Rugby came into their Pool A clash with Exeter Chiefs needing a single point to secure their qualification for the Round of 16 – and they delivered a superb 37-26 home win over Exeter Chiefs to achieve that.
A blistering opening 21 minutes saw Anthony Bouthier, Paul Willemse and Jan Serfontein all score tries for Montpellier, but a Sam Simmonds try hat-trick and a Sean O’Brien effort for Exeter left the game finely poised early in the second half.
However, there was a collective sigh of relief from Montpellier fans on 69 minutes, when Cobus Reinach intercepted and streaked clear to dive over for the crucial bonus point try, confirming Montpellier’s passage to the knockout stage.
Harlequins’ place in the Round of 16 was already sealed prior to their home clash with Castres Olympique, but they produced an incredible comeback to win 36-33 and send the TOP 14 side into the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Castres, needing a win to reach the knockout stage, crossed through Gaetan Barlot, Antoine Zeghdar, Rory Kockott and Filipo Nakosi to take a slender lead into the dying seconds.
However, Quins’ Alex Dombrandt, who had dotted twice previously in addition to scores from Huw Jones and Viliami Taulani, completed his hat-trick with the clock in the red to break Castres’ hearts and see his side advance with four wins from four pool stage games.
Round of 16 confirmed
Munster Rugby, Sale Sharks, Stade Rochelais, Bristol Bears, Leinster Rugby and Ulster Rugby all advanced to the Round of 16 with wins in their final pool stage games.
Ulster held off a late resurgence from ASM Clermont Auvergne to triumph 34-31 at the Kingspan Stadium, though the TOP 14 club had done enough to progress too.
Round 4 results:
Stade Toulousain 0 Cardiff Rugby 28*
Leicester Tigers 28 Union Bordeaux-Bgles 0*
Harlequins 36 Castres Olympique 33
Racing 92 28 Northampton Saints 0*
Bath Rugby 7 Leinster Rugby 64
Ulster Rugby 34 ASM Clermont Auvergne 31
Scarlets 21 Bristol Bears 52
Glasgow Warriors 30 Stade Rochelais 38
Sale Sharks 49 Ospreys 10
Stade Français Paris 37 Connacht Rugby 31
Munster Rugby 45 Wasps 7
Montpellier Hérault Rugby 37 Exeter Chiefs 26