Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading

La Rochelle, Munster into European Cup quarters

La Rochelle's Ihaia West. ©AFP

Paris (AFP) - Kiwi playmaker Ihaia West notched up 16 points as last season's losing finalists La Rochelle beat Bordeaux-Begles to line up a European Champions Cup quarter-final against Montpellier, one-point victors over English champions Harlequins on Saturday.

West, along with compatriot Tawera Kerr-Barlow, was instrumental in La Rochelle's 31-23 win over Bordeaux for a 62-36 aggregate score.

Bordeaux's chances crumbled when they were reduced to 14 men after 26 minutes as referee Wayne Barnes was left with no choice but to red card Ma'ama Vaipulu for a dangerous off-the-ball shoulder barge.

The visitors had no answer as West, France No 8 Gregory Alldritt, Kerr-Barlow and Fiji centre Levani Botia all crossed for tries.

La Rochelle will play Montpellier, who lost the second leg 33-20 but scraped past Harlequins 60-59 on aggregate after England fly-half Marcus Smith missed a conversion in the dying stages.

"We're pleased to be able to host them and above all play a quarter-final in front of our fans," Alldritt said.

"We've really got to keep ourselves grounded," he added. 

"We're happy with our performance and qualifying.Just because we made the final last year, it doesn't mean you can belittle making the Champions Cup quarters."

Bordeaux-Begles coach Christophe Urios said Vaipulu's red card was the turning point of the game, but called it "harsh". 

"I don't understand how a shoulder barge on a player is unsportsmanlike.I didn't find it dangerous even if it happened at pace."

Munster powered to a 26-10 victory over Exeter for a 34-23 aggregate win.They will play the winners of Saturday's late match between Toulouse and Ulster in the quarters.

"That's what it takes against a side like Exeter," said Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony, whose side lost the first leg 13-8.

"We knew we had to come in and go after the game and I thought we did that in the first half particularly.We have to be at our best to beat a side like Exeter by more than five points."

English Premiership leaders Leicester made sure of their place in the quarters with a 27-17 win at home over Clermont for a comprehensive 56-27 aggregate score.

Leicester will play four-time champions Leinster in the last eight, the Irish province having beaten Bristol 35-29 (44-39 on aggregate) despite playing a large part of the match with just 14 men after Arron Reed was sent off in the first-half.

Champions Toulouse have a tough task later on Saturday as they trail hosts Ulster by six points and have key players, such as hooker Julien Marchand, injured.

Sale look set to face Racing 92 in the next round -- the three-time finalists lead Stade Francais 22-9 going into Sunday's second leg.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.