Connacht fightback earns quarterfinal spot
EURO CHALLENGE CUP WRAP: Connacht overturned a 10-point half-time deficit to qualify for the Challenge Cup quarterfinals with a 24-24 draw at Worcester Warriors on Saturday.
Worcester needed a win to keep their hopes of topping Pool Five alive and looked to be in control as they ran in four first-half tries to go in at the break 24-14 in front, with John Muldoon and Niyi Adeolokun crossing for the Irish province, who ended the half with 13 men.
However, they could only convert two of those touchdowns and that profligacy from the tee would come back to haunt the Premiership strugglers, as Tiernan O’Halloran went over and Craig Ronaldson kicked five points to clinch the draw.
The result moves Connacht onto an unassailable 21 points at the summit ahead of the final round of fixtures, with Worcester's bonus point only enough to close the gap to six, although they could yet qualify as one of three second-placed teams.
Brive later pulled within three points of Worcester with a 29-19 win against eliminated Oyonnax.
Pau and Gloucester will face off for Pool Three's automatic qualification spot after the Top 14 side moved back to the top of the standings with a 42-14 demolition of Zebre.
The French club now lead the Cherry and Whites by three points ahead of their clash at Kingsholm on Friday.
Sale Sharks' second win of the campaign – 15-13 at home to Lyon – opened the door for Cardiff Blues to potentially clinch Pool Two with a win over Toulouse on Sunday, while London Irish thumped Krasny Yar 47-17 in a clash between Pool Four's bottom two sides.
The day's remaining fixture saw second-placed Bordeaux Begles pull five points clear of the Dragons with a 36-28 win at Stade Chaban-Delmas, although Pool One looks set to be won by Newcastle Falcons when they host winless Enisei STM on Sunday.
Scores and scorers
Worcester Warriors 24-24 Connacht:
Tries: Humphreys 2, Lewis, Adams
Cons: Pennell 2
Tries: Muldoon, Adeolokun, O'Halloran
Cons: Ronaldson 3
Yellow Cards: Quinn Roux (Connacht); Jarrad Butler (Connacht); Chris Pennell (Worcester)
Worcester: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Chris Pennell, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 David Denton, 5 Pierce Phillips, 4 Darren Barry, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Bi Alo, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Ben Howard.
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Darragh Leader, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Tom Farrell, 11 Niyi Adeolokun, 10 Craig Ronaldson, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Conor Carey, 2 David Heffernan, 1 Peter McCabe.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Eoin Griffin, 23 Cian Kelleher.
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant referees: Laurent Cardona (France), Cédric Clave (France)
Sale Sharks 15-13 Lyon:
Tries: Ostrikov, Beaumont
Pens: Beauxis 2
Yellow Card: Denny Solomona (Sale)
Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Will Addison, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Denny Solomona, 10 Sam James, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jono Ross, 7 David Seymour, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 George Nott, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Marc Jones, 1 James Flynn.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Alexandru Tarus, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Matthew Postlewhaite, 22 Josh Charnley, 23 Luke James.
Lyon: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Delon Armitage, 13 Rudi Wulf, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Baptiste Couilloud, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Dylan Cretin, 6 Julien Puricelli, 5 Etienne Oosthuizen, 4 Felix Lambey, 3 Clément Ric, 2 Virgile Lacombe, 1 Alexandre Menini.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Tornike Mataradze, 18 Stéphane Clement, 19 Francois van der Merwe, 20 Theophile Cotte, 21 Thibaut Regard, 22 Jone Tuva, 23 Frédéric Michalak.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Aled Evans (Wales)
London Irish 47-17 Krasny Yar:
For London Irish:
Tries: Loader, Brophy Clews 4, Chawatama, Cokanasiga
Cons: Bell 2, Atkins 4
For Krasny Yar:
Tries: Pruidze, Latu
Cons: Malaguradze 2
Yellow Card: V Tsnobiladze (Krasny Yar)
London Irish: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Ben Ransom, 13 Matt Williams, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Jacob Atkins, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 7 Max Northcote-Green, 6 Jack Cooke, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 4 William Lloyd, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 2 David Paice, 1 Harry Elrington
Replacements: 16 Todd Gleave, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Josh Basham, 20 Tom Woolstencroft, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Tom Fowlie, 23 Joe Cokanasiga
Krasny Yar: 15 Soso Matiashvili, 14 Igor Galinovskiy, 13 Giorgi Pruidze, 12 Lasha Malaguradze, 11 Vas Artemyev, 10 Fangatapu Apikotoa, 9 Vasilii Dorofeev, 8 Aleksandr Khudiakov, 7 Viktor Arhip, 6 Viktor Gresev, 5 Andrei Garbuzov, 4 Andrei Mahu, 3 Sione Fukofuka, 2 Valeriy Tsnobiladze, 1 Grigory Tsnobiladze
Replacements: 16 Andrei Kondakov, 17 Oleg Prepelitse, 18 Mikheil Tsiklauri, 19 Alexander Ilin, 20 Rushan Iagudin, 21 Anton Riabov, 22 Sunia Latu, 23 Kirill Golosnitskii
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Graeme Ormiston (Scotland), Bob Nevins (Scotland)