Domestic dramas set up European thrillers

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 13:46
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CHAMPIONS CUP: A dramatic weekend of domestic competition has set up the European Rugby Champions Cup doubleheaders in Rounds 3 and 4 perfectly, with thrills aplenty possible from first to last.

The next programme opens with runaway Pro14 Conference A leaders Glasgow Warriors entertaining second-placed TOP 14 side Montpellier on Friday and closes with Premiership front-runners Exeter Chiefs hosting PRO14 Conference B challengers Leinster Rugby on Sunday, both in Pool 3.

The Warriors still await their first point in Pool 3, but they approach their game against Montpellier in deadly domestic form, after a six-try, 40-16 victory over Cardiff Blues gave them a 10th win from 10 Pro14 games.

Reigning English champions Exeter also warmed up for their potential Pool decider against Leinster with a six-try show, stretching eight points clear at the top of the Premiership thanks to a 42-29 success against West Country rivals and Pool 5 leaders Bath Rugby at Sandy Park.

Leinster are in equally lethal form, having triumphed 36-10 at Pool 5 side Benetton Rugby, where new signing James Lowe marked his debut for the Irish province with two of their five tries as they closed to within three points of Conference B table-toppers Scarlets.

As well as Pool 3, Pool 1 boasts three in-form teams, with Harlequins and Wasps snatching nail-biting victories at the weekend, and leaders La Rochelle leapfrogging Montpellier to move to the head of the TOP 14 table after beating them 26-14.

Former England flyhalf Danny Cipriani celebrated his return from a knee injury a month early by inspiring Wasps to 32-25 victory over Pool 4 front runners Leicester Tigers with the pass that set up Kearnan Myall's last-minute try.

And it was an England international who was at the centre of Quins' last-gasp 20-19 home win over European champions Saracens, scrumhalf Danny Care displaying his kicking skills from hand as he created two tries for Charlie Walker and the 79th-minute match-winner for fellow wing Tim Visser.

Elsewhere, Pool 4 province Munster Rugby consolidated second place in PRO14 Conference A with a 36-10 home triumph against Pool 2 region Ospreys, which sets the Irish province up nicely for their doubleheader with Leicester, Johann van Graan's first European games in charge of Munster.

In the TOP 14, ASM Clermont Auvergne warmed up for their two 2017 Champions Cup final rematches against Saracens with a 35-26 home win over Agen and RC Toulon were even more convincing prior to their doubleheader against Bath, beating Lyon 39-11 at home.

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 27 April 2018
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 18h45 Welford Road
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Kings v Cheetahs 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 14h00 Sandy Park
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins 14h00 Sixways
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
Connacht v Leinster 14h05 Sportsground
Dragons v Scarlets 14h05 Rodney Parade
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Treviso v Zebre 16h00 Stadio Monigo
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 16h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Ulster 16h35 Thomond Park
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Myreside
Sun, 29 April 2018
London Irish v Saracens 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Wasps v Northampton Saints 14h00 Ricoh Arena
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 27 | 22
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
La Rochelle 6 4 0 2 20
Wasps 6 3 0 3 17
Ulster 6 4 0 2 17
Harlequins 6 1 0 5 7
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 6 5 0 1 22
Saracens 6 3 1 2 18
Ospreys 6 2 1 3 15
Northampton Saints 6 1 0 5 6
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 6 6 0 0 27
Exeter Chiefs 6 3 0 3 15
Montpellier 6 2 0 4 13
Glasgow Warriors 6 1 0 5 7
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 6 4 1 1 21
Racing Metro 6 4 0 2 19
Castres 6 2 1 3 12
Leicester Tigers 6 1 0 5 7
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Scarlets 6 4 0 2 21
Toulon 6 4 0 2 19
Bath 6 4 0 2 18
Treviso 6 0 0 5 4