European Rugby Challenge Cup Round Six review: Things you might have missed
The final round of European Pool games always provides thrills, spills and dollops of drama – and the Challenge Cup did not let us down.
We saw matches postponed, new heroes emerge and everyone working out the standings every few minutes on a crazy day of action.
Here’s what happened:
Newcastle Falcons have one of the sharpest back-lines in Aviva Premiership Rugby but the likes of Sinoti Sinoti and Veneniki Goneva have strong competition for their place.
Adam Radwan has made a name for himself in the Anglo-Welsh Cup this season and he has taken that form onto the European stage.
📸 Images from our first match of the day at the Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi, Georgia.
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) January 20, 2018
Radwan scored a hat-trick in the Round Five win at home to Enisei, and he repeated the trick in the reverse fixture on Saturday.
One of the fastest players in the game, Radwan is developing a reputation as a lethal winger and league appearances can’t be far away.
For Newcastle, the convincing 33-19 win ensures they reach the quarter-finals with a 100 per cent winning record.
But they were lucky to make it to Tbilisi at all after the club posted footage of their bus getting stuck in a ditch on their way to the ground.
When your team bus gets stuck in a ditch in Istanbul pic.twitter.com/Vz2bbWOM51
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) January 19, 2018
Fortunately, on the pitch everything is free-flowing.
Gloucester down but not out
Gloucester Rugby will have to settle for an away quarter-final after Pau delivered an expert display to win at the Kingsholm.
The Cherry & Whites secured their place in the last eight last week and had the chance to book a home tie with a win against the French side.
Thank you for your fine support tonight.
Tonight beaten by a better team. Now our job to become the better team 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/j5qcve1tAi
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) January 19, 2018
But they could not capitalise, going down 34-24, despite tries from Jeremy Thrush, Callum Braley and Jake Polledri – who is set to play in the upcoming Six Nations for Italy.
Sale and Irish fall short
Injury has hampered Marland Yarde’s time at Sale Sharks since his mid-season switch from Harlequins – but he got back on the scoresheet at Toulouse.
With Sale needing a win to at least give themselves a chance of reaching the last eight, they were forced to play an open brand of attacking rugby – just what Yarde thrives on.
The winger scored their first of the match but Toulouse were too strong at home and prevailed 28-21 to knock the Sharks out.
London Irish will also sit on the sidelines when the knock-out stages begin despite beating Krasny Yar in Tbilisi.
— London Irish (@LiRFC) January 20, 2018
Tom Fowlie scored two tries for Irish, along with scores from Matt Williams and Ben Loader, but Stade Français’ win over Edinburgh denied them second place in the pool.
Rain wipes away Worcester’s hopes
Heavy rain caused Worcester Warriors’ make-or-break clash at Brive to be relocated, but that did not help Gary Gold’s men – who got knocked out.
The Warriors were due to start at 2.30pm but the match was moved to nearby Tulle – where former Sale No.8 Sisa Koyamaibole scored two tries in Brive’s 33-7 win.
Was good to see my friends at @WorcsWarriors good luck on the rest of the season. Safe travels back home brothers! 👌🏽
— James Johnston (@JayVJohnston) January 21, 2018
The hosts made a fast start and Worcester could not live with them as Benito Masilevu, Dominiko Waqaniborutu and Seremaia Burotu all crossed.
Tom Howe scored for Worcester but in the end it was just a consolation.