Wiped-out Pro12 sides left to play catch-up
Published 25/01/2016 | 02:30
For the first time since the 1997-98 season there will no Irish teams involved in the quarter-finals of Europe's premier competition, with the entire Pro12 left playing catch up as English and French sides make up the last eight.
Top-seeded qualifiers Saracens will play Northampton in the last eight, while Exeter's reward for a remarkable late dash for qualification is a trip to Coventry to face Wasps.
The Chiefs secured top spot in Pool 2 in the closing stages of yesterday's game against the Ospreys.
Exeter ran in five tries, two each from James Short and Thomas Waldrom, plus a Don Armand touchdown, to win 33-17.
Clermont would have progressed through to the quarter-finals with a losing bonus point at home to Bordeaux-Begles but Morgan Parra failed to realise the significance of a last-minute penalty awarded to them in front of the posts and, instead of going for goal, ran the ball in a vain attempt to score a fifth try.
The 37-28 defeat ended Clermont's 25-game winning run at home in Europe going back to 2008 as they finished bottom of the group.
Leicester are seeded second and they will host Stade Francais in the quarter-finals, with the other tie pitting Top 14 rivals Racing 92 and Paul O'Connell's Toulon together - the latter have won the competition for the last three years.
Manu Tuilagi scored his first try since returning from a 15-month injury absence but could not prevent Leicester from losing their 100pc Champions Cup record as the Tigers went down 36-21 to Stade, who secured their place in the last eight - they will travel Welford Road for a repeat of their clash against their pool rivals.
The draw for the semi-finals is already known, with the winners of the two all-Premiership ties guaranteed to meet for a place in the final, which will take place at the Stade des Lumieres in Lyon.
Quarter-final draw: Saracens v Northampton Saints, Wasps v Exeter, Racing 92 v Toulon, Leicester Tigers v Stade Francais.
Semi-final draw: Saracens/Northampton v Wasps/Exeter, Racing/Toulon v Leicester/Stade Francais.
Elsewhere, Ireland Women were beaten 15-5 by Wales in their final warm-up game before they kick off their Six Nations defence in two weeks.
Scrum-half Larissa Muldoon's try cut the deficitto 10-5 at half time but Wales had the upper hand in the second half and scored a third try.
The uncapped game was the final chance for Tom Tierney to look at his players before Ireland host Wales in Donnybrook on February 6.