Saracens’ bid to win a third straight European Rugby Champions Cup title remains alive and kicking after Aviva Premiership Rugby rivals Wasps did them a huge favour on Sunday.
Wasps ran out 26-7 winners over Ulster at the Ricoh Arena and that helped Saracens pip the Irish outfit to the eighth and final quarter-final qualification berth.
Seven different try-scorers went over as Mark McCall’s troops beat Northampton Saints 62-14 on Saturday and, after finishing second in Pool Two behind Clermont Auvergne, who they defeated 28-17 at BT Murrayfield in last season’s final, they will now travel to Leinster in the knockout stages.
Wasps 26 Ulster 7
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) January 21, 2018
Wasps narrowly missed out on a quarter-final spot after a bonus-point success against Ulster at the Ricoh.
Tries from Guy Thompson and Tom Cruse cancelled out Sean Reidy’s first-half effort and then Willie le Roux and Jake Cooper-Woolley rounded off a fine afternoon’s work for Dai Young’s men, Danny Cipriani kicking three conversions.
Thanks to yesterday’s 62-14 win over @SaintsRugby and today’s results, Saracens will take their place in the Quarter-Finals of the @ChampionsCup to continue the defence of their title, get in there!!!
Fixture details to follow…
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) January 21, 2018
La Rochelle 16 Harlequins 7
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) January 21, 2018
A try from Danny Care wasn’t enough to prevent Harlequins going down in their final game at the hands of La Rochelle, who have qualified for the knockout stages in their debut Champions Cup campaign.
John Kingston’s side failed to get themselves on the scoreboard during the first half at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre, Alexi Bales’ penalty and tries from Pierre Aguillon and Kini Murimurivalu giving the hosts a 13-0 advantage.
Harlequins tore out of the blocks, Care dotting down and Marcus Smith adding the extras inside seven minutes of the second period but, for all their endeavour, they couldn’t hit back further with La Rochelle’s Bales landing another penalty.
Leicester Tigers 20 Racing 92 23
— Tom Youngs (@TomYoungs87) January 21, 2018
George Ford booted five penalties for Leicester tigers but a late kick from Maxime Machenaud saw them edged out by Racing 92 at Welford Road.
Henry Chavancy and Machenaud both crossed the whitewash for the French visitors inside the opening 12 minutes while England star Ford bisected the posts three times in the opening 40 minutes to make it 14-9 at the break.
Brendon O’Connor then went over in the 44th minute while Ford and Machenaud slotted away two penalties apiece to tie things up at 20-20 but, with four minutes remaining, Racing’s Machenaud converted one final kick to break Leicester hearts.