Top Teams Inch Closer In Heineken Champions Cup

Two tries from scrumhalf Antoine Dupont and 17 points from the boot of fullback Thomas Ramos led Toulouse to a superb 42-27 win over Wasps on Saturday which all but guarantees the French club a place in the last eight of the Heineken Champions Cup.

(USA prop David Ainuu has been a part of the Toulouse effort this season but did not play this week.)

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Saracens also strengthened their chase for the last eight with a tough win at Cardiff. (USA prop Titi Lamositele did not suit up for this game, while USA players Samua Manoa and Blaine Scully did play for Cardiff.) The game was within a try until the final four minutes, but Saracens pulled away, and did enough to go 4-0.

French champions Castres avenged a thrashing in Ireland in the previous round when they edged Munster 13-12 to stay alive in an extremely tight Pool 2.

In the other late match, Leinster thrashed Bath 42-15 to stay on the heels of Toulouse in Pool 1. 

Four-time champions Toulouse ran in five tries at the Stade Ernest-Wallon to collect an offensive bonus point and make it four wins from four.

Even if they finish second behind Leinster they are likely to figure as one of the best two runners-up.

"Having 17 points after four rounds in such a tough group: we earned the right to have a little smile," said Toulouse coach Ugo Mola.

Defeat for Wasps means they are eliminated from quarterfinal contention.

France wing Yoann Huget crossed for Toulouse in the opening two minutes as the game opened at a frantic rate. 

Billy Searle, playing in his first European game, scored a penalty for Wasps and then converted Josh Bassett's try as the English side went in front. 

Joe Tekori and Romain Ntamack hit back for Toulouse before Willie le Roux went over for Wasps' second try.

At halftime it was anyone's game as Toulouse led 22-20 but in the second half the gap in class began to show as Dupont took the match beyond Wasps. 

Two-time champions Saracens also moved closer to the quarterfinals after coming from behind at halftime to beat Cardiff Blues 26-14 and make it four wins from four in Pool 3.

Saracens made the perfect start at Cardiff Arms Park when Scotland winger Sean Maitland crashed over in the corner in the eighth minute. Owen Farrell was on target with the conversion and then added a penalty to open a 10-point lead. 

Cardiff came storming back though with tries from Rey Lee-Lo and Dan Fish to take a 14-13 lead at the break.

Farrell put Saracens back in front with two more penalties before Jamie George's late converted try sealed the win for the English Premiership leaders. 

Saracens top the pool with 18 points. Cardiff Blues have no chance of reaching the last eight with three defeats and one win.

Glasgow Warriors tightened their hold on second place in Pool 3 and maintained their last eight hopes after overcoming terrible weather conditions at home to beat Lyon 21-10, the French side's fourth straight defeat.

Winger Niko Matawalu dotted down after just 45 seconds and added a second try later in the half as Glasgow, spurred on by the unerring boot of fly-half Adam Hastings, opened up an 18-3 lead by half-time. 

Lyon hit back early in the second half with a try from center Pierre-Louis Barassi but later had Etienne Oosthuizen sent off for a forearm thrust into the face of Hastings.

Castres beat Munster for the first time since 2004 as Paea Fa'anunu scored the only try, after 23 minutes, in a game played in the rain and dominated by kicking.

The home team played half of the second half with 14 after yellow cards to Rory Kockott and Marc-Antoine Rallier. Munster also had Niall Scannell sin-binned and helped the home team by squandering potential points. 

Andrew Conway knocked on as he went to touch down his own kick for a try. Joey Carberry missed three of his seven penalty kicks including a potential match-winner with 10 minutes left.

"The whole team wanted to win and you could see that in the way we defended," said Kevin Firmin, the Castres hooker.

In Dublin, six different players touched down for Leinster as they swept Bath aside.


© Agence France-Presse


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