Gloucester Rugby stayed on target for their third European Rugby Challenge Cup final appearance in four years by beating Connacht Rugby 33-28 in a thriller in Ireland on Saturday to reach the semi-finals.

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The Pool 3 runners-up – who lost 25-17 to Stade Français Paris in last year’s final after winning the tournament in 2015 – secured a semi-final at  Kingsholm Stadium later this month by ending Connacht Rugby’s unbeaten run in this year’s competition.

Fly-half Owen Williams kicked 10 points for the visitors, while tries from hooker James Hanson, wing Tom Marshall, centre Henry Trinder and prop John Afoa – making his 100th appearance for Gloucester – secured victory at the Sportsground.

They will now take on Aviva Premiership rivals Newcastle Falcons, who maintained their 100 per cent record in this year’s competition by navigating their way past Brive 25-10 on Friday night at Kingston Park.

Wing Alex Tait bagged a brace of tries in the second half to follow touchdowns in the first period from prop Scott Wilson and wing Zach Kibirige to set up the Pool 1 winners’ fourth meeting this season with Gloucester.

So far the Falcons lead 2-1, having defeated Gloucester 31-19 at home in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in February and triumphed 21-20 at Kingsholm in the Aviva Premiership last month, after Gloucester won 29-7 in Newcastle in November.

Pau also made it seven wins from seven games in the 2017/18 Challenge Cup on Friday night with an exciting 35-32 home win over Stade Français Paris.

They now travel to Cardiff Arms Park later this month, after Cardiff Blues won 20-6 at BT Murrayfield on Saturday, the Pool 2 winners defeating Pool 4 table-toppers Edinburgh Rugby with tries from wing Blaine Scully and back-row Ellis Jenkins.

Challenge Cup semi-finals – 20/21/22 April
Cardiff Blues v Pau, Cardiff Arms Park
Gloucester Rugby v Newcastle Falcons, Kingsholm

Exact dates, kick-off times, TV coverage and media accreditation details will be announced shortly.