Our recap of an enthralling Heineken Champions Cup competition continues with a look back on the Round of 16, which served up a classic encounter between Munster Rugby and Toulouse at Thomond Park.
Dupont brace sees Toulouse claim victory in Ireland
The first knockout round of the competition threw up a monumental clash between two giants of European rugby, and it was Toulouse that prevailed in a gripping contest.
Keith Earls scored twice in four minutes to give Munster the lead heading into half-time, but Toulouse hit back after the break through Matthis Lebel, who benefitted from a delightful Romain Ntamack kick.
The two sides continued to trade blows, with Gavin Coombes driving over for Munster before Julien Marchand crossed from close range for Toulouse.
Munster then came out of a series of penalties with a three-point lead, but a slick Toulouse move on 67 minutes released Antoine Dupont for a score, and the scrum-half squirmed over once again with three minutes to play to seal the French side’s victory.
Matsushima heroics send Clermont into quarter-finals
Kotaro Matsushima scored a dramatic 82nd minute try to deny Wasps victory in a hard-fought game at the at the Ricoh Arena.
Wasps took an early lead through a Paolo Odogwu score and nearly went further in front through a wonderful chip and chase from Matteo Minozzi, but the Italian was adjudged to have knocked on over the line.
A flowing ASM Clermont Auvergne move saw Sebastien Bezy dot down on ten minutes, before Peni Ravai wriggled over the whitewash to put the visitors ahead.
Wasps then produced a slick set-piece routine to send Josh Bassett over, and two Jacob Umaga penalties saw the hosts go into half-time with the advantage.
Ben Harris powered over for a try on 54 minutes that looked to have secured Wasps’ quarter-final place, but an excellent finish from Matsushima deep into overtime levelled the scores, before Camille Lopez held his nerve to kick Clermont into the next round.
Chiefs run riot after early wobble
Reigning European champions Exeter Chiefs endured a torrid start at Sandy Park, going 14-0 down in ten minutes after Toby Arnold and Xavier Mignot crossed for Lyon.
Jonny Hill’s try kick-started Exeter’s recovery on 14 minutes, and the lock grabbed his second score of the game moments later from close range.
Tom O’Flaherty’s try completed the Chiefs’ turnaround, with Ollie Devoto then crossing the whitewash two minutes before half-time as the English side atoned for their early setback.
A much-improved second-half display saw Dave Ewers and Olly Woodburn go over in addition to a penalty try, with Lyon grabbing a consolation score through Dylan Cretin.
Bordeaux avenge Challenge Cup semi-final defeat
The Round of 16 set up a re-run of the 2020 European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final between Bordeaux-Bègles and Bristol Bears, when the latter of which came out on top and went on to lift the trophy.
Henry Purdy crossed for Bristol on six minutes after some neat handling, before Bears’ Callum Sheedy and Bordeaux’s Matthieu Jalibert engaged in a kicking battle that spanned the remainder of the half.
Jalibert, who grabbed Heineken Star of the Match, then added to his points haul with a try just after half-time, swinging the momentum of the game in the French side’s favour.
Another Sheedy kick kept Bristol within striking distance, but in the final ten minutes Joseph Dweba crossed for Bordeaux before Nans Ducuing intercepted a Chris Vui pass and sealed Bordeaux’s passage into the last eight.
Full Round of 16 results:
Gloucester Rugby 16 La Rochelle 27
Wasps 25 ASM Clermont Auvergne 27
Munster Rugby 33 Toulouse 40
Exeter Chiefs 47 Lyon 25
Racing 92 56 Edinburgh Rugby 3
Bordeaux-Bègles 36 Bristol Bears 17
Scarlets 14 Sale Sharks 57
Leinster Rugby C RC Toulon C*
*Leinster advanced to quarter-finals