Carbery's late penalty gives Munster European quarter-final spot

Paris (AFP) –


Joey Carbery kicked a penalty with eight minutes to play on Saturday to give Munster a 9-7 victory over Exeter and a quarter-final berth in the European Champions Cup.

Exeter's only chance of reaching the last eight had been to win and overtake Munster at the top of Pool 2.

Their defeat means that the final eight are settled ahead of the last two pool matches on Sunday.

Saracens beat Glasgow earlier on Saturday to win Pool 3 and secure the top seeding.

Racing 92 then held off Scarlets to top Pool 4 and clinch a home quarter-final, Edinburgh won Pool 5, and also secured a home quarter-final, when they beat Montpellier on Friday.

Ulster clinched a spot as one of the three best second-place teams when they came from 13 points down to beat Leicester. Glasgow will also advance as a runner up.

Toulouse, who host Bath, and defending champions Leinster, who visit Wasps, are already assured of places in the last eight ahead of Sunday's final round of games in Pool 1.

For an hour in Limerick on Saturday, after Don Armand squirmed over from a ruck for the only try of a grim and gritty game, it looked as if the Chiefs might pull off a victory at Munster's Thomond Park fortress.

"The passion the boys showed today and the belief," said Tadgh Beirne, the Munster lock.

"We had to go to a dark place and the crowd today was phenomenal as well and gave that extra bit of push especially in those last 10 minutes."

Munster qualified for their 18th quarter-final in the Champions Cup. In six campaigns, Exeter have only played knockout game, back in 2016.

Rob Baxter, Exeter's director of rugby, said after the match that Saturday's performance was a sign that his team were close to cracking Europe.

"I'm hugely proud, we've kind of achieved everything we kind of said we wanted to achieve and it's not quite added up to winning the game," Baxter said. "We're very close in Europe now."

Racing trailed the visiting Scarlets after 50 minutes.

Juan Imhoff and Henry Chavancy touched down for the home team but Steff Evans and Johnny McNicholl and the kicking of Dan Jones put the Scarlets ahead.

"You mustn't forget that in the Scarlets ranks there are 12 Wales players," said Laurent Travers, the Racing forwards coach.

Two tries from Ireland wing Simon Zebo bracketing touchdowns by Virimi Vakatawa and Teddy Iribaren put Racing in control.

"When you can ensure a home quarterfinal and, if you win that, a home semi, that's far from negligible," said Travers.

Scarlets kept fighting and were rewarded with McNicholl's late second try.

"The team we put out there showed we can compete with the best teams (in Europe)," said Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac.

In Leicester, Ulster awoke in the last 21 minutes as prop Marty Moore and winger Robert Baloucoune scored to secure a 14-13 win.

"Hats off to Leicester," Iain Henderson, the Ulster lock who made a surprise return from injury for the game, told BT Sport.

"They went in at half time the better team. We knew we needed to do something."

- Farrell blow -

Saracens saw off a furious challenge from the Warriors to win 38-19 at Allianz Park.

In a frenzied opening 30 minutes, both teams scored three tries, with Ben Spencer, Vincent Koch and Billy Vunipola scoring for Saracens and Tommy Seymour, Ali Price and Ryan Wilson for Glasgow.

After that Sarries stifled Glasgow, before Maro Itoje and Will Skelton touched down for the hosts in the final 11 minutes.

"They challenged us physically and played a very expansive brand of rugby," Itoje told BT Sport.

The only setback for Saracens was the absence of England captain Owen Farrell who has suffered a thumb injury which could rule the fly-half out of the Six Nations opener away to Ireland in a fortnight.

In the other Pool 3 game, Cardiff Blues scored six tries as they beat visiting Lyon, 33-14. The result meant Lyon ended the pool without a point, a first for a French club.