Seven teams bagged their places in the EPCR Challenge Cup knockout stage amid an enthralling Round 3 last weekend.
Cardiff Rugby, RC Toulon, Connacht Rugby, Bristol Bears, Glasgow Warriors, Scarlets and Benetton Rugby have all ensured their progression from the pool stage with a game to spare.
Round 4 this weekend is set be an intriguing watch as teams vie for the remaining five qualification places and those already qualified gun for top seeding and home advantage in the knockout stage.
Cardiff and Toulon are level at the summit of Pool A on 15 points, with Owen Lane’s try double helping the Welsh region to a 42-10 thrashing of Newcastle Falcons while the TOP 14 side triumphed 35-23 at Bath Rugby.
Connacht are a point adrift of that pair after they drubbed CA Brive 61-5 at The Sportsground, Alex Wootton going over for a hat-trick of tries.
Bristol and Glasgow are also on 14 points, easing to victories at Zebre Parma (34-11) and USAP (40-26) respectively, Harry Thacker another hat-trick scorer in the former.
Round Three ✅
1️⃣ qualification spot left in Pool A, with 5️⃣ teams still in with a shot 👀
Bring on next weekend 🔥#ChallengeCupRugby pic.twitter.com/TzDklEv4HD
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 15, 2023
Scarlets are runaway leaders in Pool B, beating Toyota Cheetahs 20-17 at Parc y Scarlets thanks to Leigh Halfpenny’s penalty to become the only team in the pool to win all three of their games so far.
Benetton will also advance after they eased to 26-7 win over Aviron Bayonnais at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Niccolò Cannone crossing twice for the Italian side.
Just one qualification place remains up for grabs in Pool A – USAP’s point difference sees them lead a contingent featuring Bath, Zebre and Brive on a solitary point, with Newcastle bottom having yet to register.
In Pool B, Emirates Lions are on the brink of qualification, as are Stade Français Paris, who recovered to beat the South African outfit 17-7 at the Stade Jean Bouin, drawing level with their opponents on eight points.
Tries from Ashton Hewitt and Max Clark helped Dragons RFC win 21-15 at Section Paloise and move onto eight points in a huge boost to their Round of 16 hopes.
Toyota Cheetahs are level with Pau on six points – their Round 4 clash is set to be a belter, with the French side occupying the last qualification place on points difference as it stands.
Bayonne are the only side to lose all three games in Pool B, with their defeat at Benetton ultimately ending their hopes of progressing.