Wednesday 21 March 2018

Explained - What Connacht must do to advance to the Champions Cup last eight and which teams Leinster and Munster are likely to face

Connacht head coach Pat Lam during squad training at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Connacht head coach Pat Lam during squad training at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Ian Keatley scores Munster's third try against Racing 92. Photo: Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Munster joined Leinster among the four teams with home draws in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup after a tough enough struggle against Racing 92 at Thomond Park last night.

In the end they didn't need a bonus point to secure second place on the list of qualifiers, thanks to being two points ahead of Saracens on points difference.

Leinster will play Wasps if the English club pick up the expected five points this afternoon against Zebre, while Munster will have to wait until Connacht wrap up in Toulouse before knowing their opponents who could come from that pair, or Glasgow who wiped out the troubled Leicester Tigers in Welford Road.

"I'm a wee bit relieved," Rassie Erasmus said afterwards. "We've got the home quarter and to sneak in there at second (on the qualifying list) is satisfying. It's been eight tough weeks and especially playing the three Europe games - and the Glasgow game especially, you could see it told on the guys. It definitely wasn't pretty but we knew we had to beat them by 11, and we beat them by 12, so it's satisfying. It wasn't beautiful but it was effective."

Racing made more or a contest of the game than they had in Paris a fortnight ago.

"I wasn't worried (during it) about losing the game - first prize was just to get to a quarter final but to finish second as we go further hopefully in the competition, as we get to hopefully, maybe, the semifinals, it might be a better draw for a home one, if it works out like that.

"Beating Racing home and away - I wouldn't say it's a great achievement but we're going in the right direction. "Peter O'Mahony summed it up well, we are frustrated with our performance but we have a chance to compete now and it shows we are growing."

Connacht lead Toulouse by four pool points, and are 4-1 up on match points between the teams following the first leg in Galway.

Another historic victory at the Stade Ernest-Wallon would earn Connacht a place in the last eight.

If the French side win and deny Connacht a losing bonus point, they will advance.

If Connacht lose, they must finish within seven points of the Top 14 side and stop them from scoring four tries.

Pat Lam's men would also go through if they claim two bonus points in defeat.

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