Toulouse march on as Saracens subdue Munster in Champions Cup

Paris (AFP) –


Four-time champions Toulouse all but booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup with a 26-18 win in round 4 at Montpellier on Saturday.

A last minute try from Lucas Tauzin, who came on as a 71st minute replacement for South African World Cup winning winger Cheslin Kolbe, secured the bonus point for Toulouse who head Pool 5 with 18 points.

They are nine points clear of Gloucester who lost in a dramatic finale to Connacht in Galway.

Champions Saracens edged Munster in a gruelling battle in north London to boost their hopes in Pool 4 while Treviso chalked up their first win in the competition since 2015 when they beat French Top 14 leaders Lyon.

Montpellier, who can no longer qualify for the last eight, made the worst possible start when they lost former France number eight Louis Picamoles after two minutes with a twisted left knee.

Picamoles, who spent seven years at Toulouse, was stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious injury.

France fly-half Romain Ntamack scored Toulouse's first try and they led 14-13 at the break. Australian lock Rory Arnold touched down twice in the second half before Tauzin's score in the right hand corner closed the contest.

Montpellier, who scored a try in each half, can no longer qualify.

The other game in Pool 5 brought a dramatic finish as Connacht scored twice in the last four minutes to dent Gloucester's hopes of keeping Toulouse in their sights.

Caolin Blade scored a first-half try for Connacht who led 10-7 at the break in the Pool 5 encounter.

Despite missing some key men, Gloucester battled back in the second half with Mark Atkinson (two) and captain Lewis Ludlow adding to Gerbrandt Grobler's first-half try.

The English side led 24-13 in the 76th minute but with Ludlow in the sin-bin, Connacht delighted the home crowd with converted tries from Shane Delahunt and Robin Copeland.

Both sides remain in the hunt for a place in the knockout stage.

- Saracens survive -

Champions Saracens scored twice late as they outmuscled Munster in north London and kept their defence alive in Pool 4.

Owen Farrell and JJ Hanrahan scored a penalty each in an arid first half.

Hanrahan nudged the Irish province ahead but Saracens replied when Scottish international wing Sean Maitland slithered in down the right. England prop Mako Vunipola sealed the win when he crashed over from close range.

Munster stay second in the pool with 11 points, six behind French side Racing. Saracens are a further point back in third.

Lyon's hopes, however, appear to be over after they slipped to a 25-22 defeat at Treviso in Pool 1.

Both sides scored two tries in the opening half with Lyon turning around with a 14-12 lead.

Pierre-Louis Barassi scored Lyon's third try after 65 minutes to put the French Top 14 leaders 22-18 ahead but Marco Lazzaroni's converted try eight minutes from time snatched the win for Treviso.