Champions Cup quarter-final draw confirmed

The quarter-finals of the Champions Cup have been confirmed, with top seeds Leinster hosting Saracens in the pick of the matches.

In the other last-eight games, Scarlets host La Rochelle, Toulon travel to Munster while Clermont face Racing 92 in an all-French showdown.

The huge fixtures will take place over the weekend of March 30-April 1, with the schedule to be announced in due course by the organisers.

Champions Cup quarter-finals

Leinster v Saracens
Scarlets v La Rochelle
Munster v Toulon
Clermont v Racing 92

Champions Cup semi-finals

Leinster or Saracens v Scarlets or La Rochelle
Munster or Toulon v Clermont or Racing 92

Semi-finals will take place over the weekend of April 20-22

La Rochelle top pool after nervy win

La Rochelle booked a spot in the Champions Cup quarter-finals but are set for a road trip in the knockouts after a 16-7 win over Harlequins.

It wasn't pretty and at times the hosts were nervous and full of errors, but to qualify for the last eight is a huge feat for the French outfit.

They scored two tries in this home win, through Pierre Aguillon and Kini Murimurivalu, with Alexi Bales kicking two penalties off the tee.

For Harlequins they can take a lot from their performance on the road with Danny Care scoring their try, but ultimately bow out at this stage.

La Rochelle knew they needed a favour from Wasps if they were to finish top of their pool and at the break everything was going perfectly. The hosts led 13-0 in a rather one-sided half of rugby in France while Wasps were also in front, 14-7, against Ulster in the other match.

It was all La Rochelle in the early stages and a Bales penalty saw them take a deserved 3-0 lead on five minutes, with Quins then losing lock George Merrick to injury. Merrick hobbled off in a further setback for the visiting side as they'd lost prop Kyle Sinckler before kick-off.

La Rochelle were sensing a big win and opted for tries over shots at goal thereafter, with penalties going to the corner. But Quins managed to stand form after a sustained spell, despite the offences racking up against them. Referee George Clancy started to lose patience.

Finally though on 21 minutes the defence was breached as space was created on the right wing for Aguillon to finish in the corner for 8-0, with that becoming 13-0 two minutes before the break as Victor Vito and Dany Priso combined to send Murimurivalu over on the left wing.

Everything was going to plan for La Rochelle, both at home and in Coventry, but when Care sniped over on 47 minutes to make it 13-7, the tension mounted at Stade Marcel Deflandre. Bales' second penalty did put them two scores ahead but Quins continued to bang on the door.

Like last week at Ulster, La Rochelle appeared to go into their shell as the contest reached its final quarter, with Harlequins very much on top and pressing for a score that would further crank up the pressure in France.

Fortunately for the hosts they managed to keep them at bay, claiming a hard-fought 16-7 victory that sees them finish at the pool summit.

The scorers:

For La Rochelle:
Tries: Aguillon, Murimurivalu
Pens: Bales 2

For Harlequins:
Try: Care
Con: Smith

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Rene Ranger, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Vincent Rattez, 10 Jérémy Sinzelle, 9 Alexi Bales, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Afaesetiti Amosa, 6 Levani Botia, 5 Mathieu Tanguy, 4 Jason Eaton (c), 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Pierre Bourgarit, 1 Dany Priso
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Lekso Kaulashvili, 18 Mohamed Boughanmi, 19 William Demotte, 20 Romain Sazy, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Benjamin Noble, 23 Eliott Roudil

Harlequins: 15 Ian Prior, 14 Ross Chisholm, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 James Lang, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Archie White, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 George Merrick, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 Dave Ward (c), 1 Lewis Boyce
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Josh McNulty, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Dino Lamb, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Joe Marchant, 23 Aaron Morris

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Leo Colgan (Ireland)
Television match official: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Racing hold on to book last-eight spot

Racing 92 held off a late Leicester onslaught on their line to win 23-20 at Welford Road, sealing a spot in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

The visitors finish the pool stage on 19 points and therefore qualify for the knockout stages thanks to tries from Henry Chavancy and Maxime Machenaud, with the scrum-half crucially kicking two conversions and three penalties to boot.

Leicester meanwhile can take credit from this performance as, despite losing, they displayed a character that had been missing of late.

With Leicester in the midst of a dismal run of form and firmly out of the reckoning for the quarter-final positions, this was a shot to nothing for the home side. But with plenty of empty seats at Welford Road and Manu Tuilagi a late withdrawal due to a tight calf, hopes weren't high.

Indeed, Racing began the stronger and scored on seven minutes via the driving maul, an unlikely man at the tail being Chavancy. The conversion from Machenaud was solid and the Paris outfit had themselves a 7-0 lead that was soon to become 14-0 as they came out firing.

That second try came on 12 minutes on the back of a Leicester scrum that was shunted backwards. The ball subsequently shot out of the back of that set-piece close to the Tigers' line and Machenaud grounded before Jonny May and Ben Youngs to give them a perfect start.

Tigers, however, managed to claw their way back in what became a scrappy game in the conditions, with Ford slotting penalties in the 17th and 28th minute. He would further close the scoreline just before the break to 14-9 as rival sides elsewhere were given hope.

That hope was handed a further boost five minutes into the second period when Leone Nakarawa was adjudged to have taken out a Tigers jumper at a line-out. Ford kicked into the corner and the line-out drive resulted in a try for Brendon O'Connor at the tail. The extras were missed.

Racing did manage to nudge themselves back in front on 55 minutes when O'Connor was penalised for side entry. But, after a frantic period that saw the visitors have plenty of ball in Leicester's half, suddenly the hosts had a shot from 40 metres that Ford took to level again.

Machenaud though was on target with 11 minutes remaining following another O'Connor ruck offence, crucially moving his team in front.

And despite Leicester levelling when Boris Palu was caught offside by the assistant referee, Racing would have one final chance to strike following a scrum penalty, which Machenaud took on 76 minutes before the final drama unravelled.

Leicester pounded the visitors' line for the closing stages but Racing held on, winning a breakdown penalty that was greeted with loud cheers.

The scorers:

For Leicester:
Try: O'Connor
Pens: Ford 5

For Racing 92:
Tries: Chavancy, Machenaud
Cons: Machenaud 2
Pens: Machenaud 3

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Nick Malouf, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Greg Bateman
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Valentino Mapapalangi, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Adam Thompstone

Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Rémi Tales, 9 Maxime Machenaud (c), 8 Leone Nakarawa, 7 Yannick Nyanga, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Viliamu Afatia, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 20 Boris Palu, 21 Teddy Iribaren, 22 Dan Carter, 23 Louis Dupichot

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
Television match official: Neil Hennessy (Wales)

Quartet re-sign with Exeter Chiefs

Exeter have announced that Greg Holmes, Elvis Taione, Harry Williams and Jack Yeandle have all agreed new deals to stay with the Chiefs.

Club captain Yeandle has signed a new three-year deal keeping him at Sandy Park until 2021, while international trio Holmes, Taione and Williams have all agreed two-year deals.

The confirmation of the quartet signing on comes in the same week as club-mates Gareth Steenson, Ian Whitten and Mitch Lees also announced they too were extending their own Chiefs’ careers.

Naturally, director of rugby Rob Baxter is delighted all four players are hanging around for the foreseeable future. He said: “If anybody has seen how we have built over a number of years, where we have pushed, and what has helped us be more successful in the Premiership has been having a great foundation around that forward platform and what they can deliver.

“Rob Hunter has done a fantastic job over the last number of years, our forward play has improved year upon year, not just around scrum and set-piece which I know a lot of people talk about, but also the attributes these guys show around the field. It’s all very well having big guys who can scrummage and maul, but actually they have all shown they have great ability all around the field when they are playing multi-phase and they are all great defenders as well.

“What we like to think is that they have all worked really hard on the little details of their game that in turn help make our overall game stick together. Primarily they have a huge role to play in our set-piece, but they have a huge role in our attack and defence systems. They all perform them very well and we’re delighted they are all hanging around the place for the next few years at least.”

Pocock to miss start of Super Rugby season

Brumbies are set to be without David Pocock for the start of the 2018 Super Rugby season after the flanker underwent surgery for a knee complaint.

The flanker has been on a year-long sabbatical from Australian rugby duties but played for the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan between August and January.

He featured in the Top League final as the Wild Knights went down 12-8 to Suntory Sungoliath in the final, but returned to Australia with an injury.

“Upon David Pocock’s return from playing in Japan he sought advice for a complaint with his knee,” a Brumbies’ statement said.

“Following consultation with his orthopaedic surgeon, the Plus500 Brumbies and David were informed that it would be in the best interest of both parties that he underwent a minor operative procedure.

“The surgery took place yesterday, Saturday 20 January, and identified damage to his meniscus. His timeline for return to play is up to three months. After appropriate post-operative rehabilitation, David is expected to make a full recovery.”

Pocock also expressed his frustration at being sidelined for a few months having not featured for the Brumbies since 2016.

“There is always frustration and disappointment, but all you can do is control your reaction to it. Having a bit of time off [last year], I realise how fortunate I am,” he told the Canberra Times.

“I was looking forward to arriving back in Canberra with some match fitness and ready to go, but this is probably the better approach. I've managed it for ages, this is the smart decision.

“It's the kind of thing that if you keep managing, at some point if it tears it will be a lot worse. You wouldn't want that to be halfway through the season.”

Challenge Cup quarter-finals confirmed

The qualifiers for the 2017/18 Challenge Cup quarter-finals and their rankings at the conclusion of the pool stage have been finalised.

1 Pau (winner Pool 3 – 29 points)
2 Newcastle Falcons (winner Pool 1 – 28 points)
3 Connacht (winner Pool 5 – 26 points)
4 Edinburgh (winner Pool 4 – 25 points)
5 Cardiff Blues (winner Pool 2 – 21 points)
6 Gloucester (best pool runner-up – 21 points)
7 Brive (second best pool runner-up – 17 points)
8 Stade Français (third best pool runner-up – 17 points)

The quarter-final matches to be played on 29/30/31 March / 1 April are as follows:

QF 1: Pau v Stade Français
QF 2: Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues
QF 3: Connacht v Gloucester
QF 4: Newcastle Falcons v Brive

NB The exact dates, venues and kick-off times for the matches will be announced next week.

Wins for Cardiff Blues, Toulouse, Brive and Stade Français

Cardiff Blues and Toulouse ended their Challenge Cup pool campaigns with wins but it is only the Blues who progress from Pool 2.

In Pool 5 Brive have qualified at the expense of Worcester while in Pool 4 Stade Français joined Edinburgh in making it into the last eight.

Lyon 18-21 Cardiff Blues

Cardiff Blues made it five wins from six games in the pool stages after they beat Lyon 21-18 at Matmut Stadium de Gerland on Saturday.

Despite finishing top of their pool, the Welsh region will however be on the road in the quarter-finals due to other sides' superb records.

Lloyd Williams, a penalty try and Tomos Williams provided the five-pointers for Cardiff, while Jarrod Evans slotted four points off the tee.

Lyon, who finish in fourth place, scored tries through Dylan Cretin and Pierre-Louis Barassi as their campaign ended in a fourth defeat.

The scorers:

For Lyon:
Tries: Cretin, Barassi
Con: Beauxis
Pens: Beauxis 2
Yellow Cards: Cotte, Barassi

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: L Williams, Penalty try, T Williams
Cons: Evans 2
Yellow Card: Evans

Lyon: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Delon Armitage, 13 Pierre-Louis Barassi, 12 Thibaut Regard, 11 Jone Tuva, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Frédéric Michalak, 8 Tai Tuifua, 7 Theophile Cotte, 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Hendrik Roodt, 4 Francois van der Merwe, 3 Clément Ric, 2 Virgile Lacombe, 1 Stéphane Clement
Replacements: 16 Enzo Pakihivatau, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Richard Choirat, 19 Tanginoa Halaifonua, 20 Josh Bekhuis, 21 Alexis Palisson, 22 Theo Belan, 23 Jonathan Pélissié

Cardiff Blues: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Blaine Scully, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 Damian Welch, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Rhun Williams

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Adam Leal (England), Dean Richards (England)

Toulouse 28-21 Sale Sharks

Sale had their hopes of quarter-final qualification ended at the hands of Toulouse, who won 28-21 at Stade Ernest Wallon on Saturday.

A late try from replacement Semi Kunatani saw the French side to victory, which was their second of the Challenge Cup pool campaign.

Maks van Dyk, David Roumieu and Julian Marchand were their other scorers in the bonus-point win that sees them finish in second.

Marland Yarde, Luke James and Josh Beaumont crossed for the Sharks as they finish in third position, with this their third pool defeat.

The scorers:

For Toulouse:
Tries: Van Dyk, Roumieu, Marchant, Kunatani
Cons: Ntamack 3, Bezy
Yellow Cards: Tolofua

For Sale:
Tries: Yarde, L James, Beaumont
Cons: Addison 3

Toulouse: 15 Jarrod Poi, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Paul Perez, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Tala Gray, 7 Louis-Benoit Madaule, 6 Carl Axtens, 5 Piula Faasalele, 4 Florian Verhaeghe, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 David Roumieu, 1 Daniel Mienie
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Selevasio Tolofua, 21 Semi Kunatani, 22 Sébastien Bézy, 23 Lucas Tauzin

Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Josh Charnley, 13 Will Addison, 12 Luke James, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Sam James, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Cameron Neild, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 George Nott, 3 Alexandru Tarus, 2 Marc Jones, 1 James Flynn
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Matt Postlewhaite, 20 Sam Moore, 21 Ben Curry, 22 Paulo Odogwu, 23 Aaron Reed

Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Jonathan Peak (Ireland)

Brive 33-7 Worcester Warriors

Brive secured a place in the last eight of the Challenge Cup after claiming a bonus-point 33-7 victory over Worcester Warriors in Tulle.

The rescheduled game saw the match moved to Stade Alexandre Cueuille but it didn't affect the Brive mindset as they ran in five tries.

Sisa Koyamaibole scored a brace while Benito Masilevu,  Dominiko Waqaniborutu and Seremaia Burotu also crossed in the big win.

Worcester subsequently miss out on the knockout stages and finish third in Pool 5, with Tom Howe claiming their only try of the game.

The scorers:

For Brive:
Tries: Koyamaibole 2, Masilevu, Waqaniborutu, Burotu
Cons: Germain 4

For Worcester:
Try: Howe
Con: Pennell
Yellow Cards: Cox, Kerrod

Brive: 15 Gaetan Germain, 14 Guillaume Namy, 13 Felix Le Bourhis, 12 Seremaia Burotu, 11 Benito Masilevu, 10 Nicolas Bézy, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Poutasi Luafutu, 6 Etienne Herjean, 5 Jan Uys, 4 Johan Snyman, 3 James Johnston, 2 Mike Tadjer, 1 Karlen Asieshvili
Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Demba Bamba, 18 Soso Bekoshvili, 19 Dominiko Waqaniborutu, 20 Péniami Narisia, 21 Florian Cazenave, 22 Sevanaia Galala, 23 Thomas Laranjeira

Worcester: 15 Ben Howard, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Chris Pennell, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Michael Dowsett, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Matt Cox, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Pierce Phillips, 4 Darren Barry, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Kurt Haupt, 1 Ryan Bower
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Gareth Milasinovich, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Matti Williams, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Tom Howe

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales), Gareth John (Wales)

Stade Francais 17-10 Edinburgh

Stade Français sealed a spot in the Challenge Cup knockouts as a best runner-up after beating Edinburgh 17-10 at Stade Jean Bouin.

The hosts finished one point above London Irish in the pool and eight behind eventual Pool 4 winners and today's opponents in Paris.

Paul Alo-Emile, Jonathan Danty and Sergio Parisse scored Stade Français' three tries, while Damien Hoyland and Dougie Fife crossed for Edinburgh, who picked up a losing bonus-point and progress as a home quarter-finalist.

The scorers:

For Stade Français:
Tries: Alo-Emile, Danty, Parisse
Con: Geraghty

For Edinburgh:
Tries: Hoyland, Fife

Stade Français15 Tony Ensor, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Djibril Camara, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Sekou Macalou, 7 Matthieu Ugena, 6 Mathieu De Giovanni, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Laurent Panis, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Steevy Cerqueira, 20 Sergio Parisse, 21 Arthur Coville, 22 Paul Williams, 23 Jimmy Yobo

Edinburgh: 15 Darcy Graham, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Lewis Carmichael, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Cameron Fenton, 1 Rory Sutherland
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Kevin Bryce, 18 Matt Shields, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 James Johnstone, 23 Dougie Fife

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: John Carvill (Ireland), Cillian Hogan (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

Baxter ruing missed opportunity

Disappointed Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter felt his side failed to grasp a golden opportunity to book themselves a place in the last eight of this season’s Champions Cup.

Knowing they needed a victory ahead of their final Pool 3 clash with Glasgow Warriors, it was the Scotsmen who prevailed at an icy Scotstoun, claiming their first European victory of the season with a 28-21 success.

Full-back Stuart Hogg gave the home side the lead inside two minutes with a try converted by Finn Russell, but parity was restored just before the break when Exeter number eight Sam Simmonds rumbled over from close range for a try of his own, which skipper Gareth Steenson was able to add the extras to.

The second half continued to be a tight affair, that was until Chiefs scrum-half Nic White was controversially shown a yellow card by French referee Romain Poite for a supposed deliberate knock-on close to his own try-line.

Not only did the Aussie international get banished to the sidelines for a ten-minute stint, but the Warriors were awarded a penalty try for his indiscretion.

Worse was to follow for the visitors as the Warriors exploited the man advantage to add two further converted tries from Tommy Seymour and Matt Fagerson.

With their Champions Cup hopes all but ended in an instance, the Chiefs dug deep late on and threatened a comeback of sorts as first Don Armand, then Ian Whitten, added late tries to haul them back to within a converted score.

Although the Chiefs did their best to try and rescue something in the dying embers, it was not to be and ended Exeter’s bid of joining Europe’s elite clubs in the quarter-finals.

“I am disappointed, not just because we lost or because this European campaign has slipped away from us, but we weren’t as good as we needed to be,” said Baxter at the final whistle. “Playing in the Champions Cup, playing away to good sides, you know you have to be good and the truth is there were too many times today where we weren’t good enough.

“We conceded that early try and that was kind of indicative of where we were today. It was a pretty soft score, we didn’t talk, we didn’t number up, we kind of looked all over the place in those early minutes. However, we recovered well, we started to get into the game and by half-time I thought we were well placed.

“At 7-7, there have been plenty of games, even in this past month, where we have been level at half time, but then come through and won the game so I wasn’t too worried about that as we had laid some good foundations. Our scrum was looking good and on the whole our attacking shape looked pretty good, and I would normally have backed us to push on from there.”

The turning point came, however, when White was shown yellow and Baxter acknowledged it was a defining moment in the contest.

“The yellow card came at a crucial moment,” added Baxter. “But did we then deal with being down to 14 men that well? I don’t think we did.

“All of a sudden we were getting picked off by by Glasgow. Yes, some of it was good play from them, but if you are fully focused on how you should defend with 14 men, you should be able to deal with the threat. If we’re honest, we didn’t do that. We go caught on the edges a lot and if you are going to give up length of the field tries, you’re not going to win games.”

Asked by the media for his view on the yellow card, Baxter replied: “It’s tight. I’ve seen as many times as you did on the big screen. I also had a chat with Romain as we walked off and he acknowledged it’s a tight call as well.

“You can look at it over and over again and say there is nothing really happening and that it’s just a tackle scenario. At other times, you can say it looks like Glasgow were going to score. My feeling is I’m not sitting here massively bothered about the refereeing decisions, I’m more bothered about us. I think there was a lot more we could have done to keep things in our hands and that’s what has bothered me more than anything.”

Glasgow hold off Exeter

Glasgow left Exeter's European hopes in tatters with a 28-21 bonus-point victory in Champions Cup action at Scotstoun on Saturday.

Exeter will feel hard done by as they dominated the match for large periods but weren't their usual clinical selves.

Tries from Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Matt Fagerson and a penalty try proved too much for Exeter who scored through Sam Simmonds, Don Armand and Ian Whitten.

Glasgow got off to a fantastic start when Hogg went over for the game's first try with just a minute gone on the clock. It was Finn Russell who made the break down the blindside and passed to George Horne who made the final pass to Hogg for the free run in to the line. Russell added the extras as the home side took an early 7-0 lead.

The Chiefs seemed to have hit back on the 20-minute mark but the ball was held up as Whitten slid over the whitewash. However, it was a definite warning sign of things to come.

Glasgow were holding on at this point; having to repel one attack after another from the Exeter battalion. It was truly one-way traffic and the pressure finally told on the stroke of half-time when Simmonds bashed over from close range after a series of powerful carries from the Exeter forwards. Gareth Steenson's conversion meant the sides went into the interval locked at 7-7. 

The game was a more even contest at the beginning of the second-half but with 12 minutes gone Nic White was yellow-carded and this swayed the odds in Glasgow's favour.

A brilliant counter-attacking move that started on their own try-line and went coast to coast saw the Glasgow backline combining brilliantly as the ball shifted between Russell, Seymour, Hogg, Horne and back to Seymour who finished off one of the tries of the tournament thus far.

Glasgow further capitalised on their numerical advantage with Hogg made the initial break from turnover ball and caught the Exeter defence on the back foot before the ball was shifted through the hands and Fagerson crashed over with the Exeter defence back-pedalling.

But the Premiership champions, with a quickfire double salvo of tries from Armand and Whitten, saw them to within a converted try of the hosts.

First, the courageous Armand hit back for the Chiefs, bashing over from close range. It was substitute Joe Simmonds who made the initial break. Steenson added the extras with Glasgow leading 28-14.

And with ten minutes to go, Exeter got themselves well and truly back in to the game when Whitten made sure of the try this time finishing off a well-worked move. Steenson's conversion brought Rob Baxter's men within seven points, making for a fascinating last ten.

But Glasgow held on for their first win of the competition, all but ending Exeter's hopes of progression.

The scorers:

For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Hogg, Seymour, Fagerson, Penalty Try
Cons: Russell 3

For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Simmonds, Armand, Whitten
Cons: Steenson 3
Yellow Card: White

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Finn Russell, 9 George Horne, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Matt Smith, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Jonny Gray (c), 4 Rob Harley, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 George Turner, 1 Jamie Bhatti

Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Ali Price, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Lee Jones

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Moray Low, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Toby Salmon, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Tom Hendrickson

Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon (France), Vincent Blasco Baque (France)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Scarlets win thriller with Toulon

Scarlets leapfrogged Toulon to finish top of Pool 5 with a 30-27 victory at Parc y Scarlets in European Champions Cup action on Saturday.

Scarlets qualified for the quarter-finals and can dare to dream as they remain on course to win their first ever Champions Cup after beating three-times winners Toulon much to the delight of their rapturous home crowd.

Tries from Tom Prydie, Hadleigh Parkes and Dan Jones proved too much for Toulon who scored through Duane Vermeulen and Chris Ashton.

The first-half was a more open affair than the second, with the sides adopting a less expansive game after the break.

The Scarlets got off to a fantastic start stretching the Toulon defence by taking them from right to left before Rhys Patchell's long skip pass allowed Prydie with a clear run on the overlap out on the right wing to dot down in the corner. Jones added the extras.
 
Soon after, Toulon responded with a cheeky lineout move which saw South African Juandre Kruger act as the decoy at the lineout to free up space for his compatriot Vermeulen, who exploited the gap in the centre of the lineout to carry himself over the line and carry his side back in to the game. Anthony Belleau missed the conversion.

Jones added a penalty to extend the Scarlets' lead to 10-5 with ten minutes gone.

But indiscipline began to creep into the Scarlets' game. On one such occasion, they were penalised for hands in the ruck and Toulon captain Vermeulen pointed to the poles. Belleau obliged to cut the deficit to two.

Then against the run of play, Ashton intercepted Patchell's lofted pass brilliantly and showed searing pace to run coast to coast for the score. Belleau's conversion gave Toulon a 15-10 lead after 18 minutes.

Soon after, Aaron Shingler charged down a Belleau kick which he then kicked further ahead for Parkes to gather and dot down as the Scarlets retook the lead after Jones' conversion.

Once again, Jones restored the five-point buffer with a penalty for the home side after Toulon were guilty of collapsing the scrum.

Belleau reduced the deficit to two with a penalty of his own.

But Scarlets stepped up the intensity once again when a good chip ahead earned them an attacking lineout deep in Toulon territory. Paul Asquith broke beautifully from the lineout and as the ball was recycled the Toulon defence had already committed too many players to the breakdown and Jones couldn't believe his luck as he was allowed to canter over the line.

Soon after, Scarlets captain Ken Owens was penalised for taking the scrum-half out before the ball was out and Belleau duly punished the hosts, cutting the deficit to six as the sides went into the interval with Scarlets 27-21 in the lead.

The sides traded blows as Patchell and Francois Trinh-Duc exchanged penalties keeping it to a six-point game, meaning a converted try for the visitors would be enough.

Nerves began to mount as Trinh-Duc slotted another penalty to reduce the deficit to just three points; Scarlets leading 30-27 with 15 minutes to go.

But the Scarlets held on for an historic win to book their place in the knockout stages.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Tries: Prydie, Parkes, Jones
Cons: Jones 3
Pens: Jones 2, Patchell

For Toulon:
Tries: Vermeuelen, Ashton
Con: Belleau 
Pens: Belleau 3, Trinh-Duc 2

Scarlets: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Steff Hughes, 23 Leigh Halfpenny

Toulon: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Chris Ashton, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Raphael Lakafia, 6 Facundo Isa, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Juandre Kruger, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Florian Fresia
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Emerick Setiano, 19 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 20 Francois Trinh-Duc, 21 Jean Monribot, 22 Eric Escande, 23 Samu Manoa
 
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Tom Foley (England), Paul Dix (England)
Television match official: David Grashoff (England)