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Home knock-out berths at stake in Europe

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

19 Jan 2017

Leinster, mighty impressive with the imperious nature of their eight-try rout of Montpellier at the RDS, will also secure a home tie in the last eight provided they finish the pool competition by winning on familiar territory at Castres. The former triple European champions have already won there twice in the last four seasons.

Connacht also retrace their steps to a venue with fond memories. A repeat of their wonderful 16-14 victory in Toulouse three seasons back will guarantee the Guinness PRO12 champions a place in the quarter-finals alongside their provincial neighbours.

A losing bonus point would be enough for John Muldoon’s frontiersmen to break new ground but only if they stop Toulouse taking all five points with a try bonus.

John Muldoon

The outcome will have some influence, for better or worse, on whether another Guinness PRO12 team reaches the knock-out stage.

The Warriors, so close against Munster last week, head to Leicester needing to complete the double over the Tigers if they are to go where no Glaswegian team has gone before, into the last eight.

Scotland’s other team, Edinburgh, leads the Guinness PRO12 assault on the Challenge Cup.   Their magnificent double over Harlequins, achieved with a fair bit to spare in London last week, leaves them knowing that a win over the Romanians from Timisoara at Myreside on Saturday will complete their qualification.

Ospreys are already there, deservedly so as the only team in either competition to win all five pool rounds. Better still, they have done it without dropping a single point – 25 out of 25 and the chance of rattling up their 100th try of the season at Newcastle on Saturday.

Hanno Dirksen

At least one more of the Guinness PRO12 could follow them into the last eight. Cardiff Blues will make it if they beat Bristol at the BT Arms Park on Saturday afternoon when Newport Gwent Dragons have the chance of staging a grandstand finish at Brive.

If they succeed but don’t claim a bonus point, the Welsh region will then be relying on the Blues losing at home to Bristol and Benetton Treviso defying the odds at La Rochelle.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017, 27th May, Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Ticket Information: Fans can still avail of an exclusive number of €30 tickets. Book via www.ticketmaster.ie.
Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final