Ihaia west. (Photo by Xavier Leoty/AFP)
Kiwi playmaker Ihaia West picked up 16 points as last season’s losing finalists La Rochelle beat Bordeaux-Begles to face Montpellier in the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup, who clinched a points win over English champions Harlequins on Saturday.
West, along with compatriot Tawera Kerr-Barlow, was instrumental in La Rochelle’s 31-23 win over Bordeaux by a 62-36 aggregate score.
Bordeaux’s chances crumbled when they were reduced to 14 men after 26 minutes when referee Wayne Barnes had no choice but to show Ma’ama Vaipulu the red card for a dangerous off-ball shoulder injury.
The visitors had no response as West, France No.8 Gregory Alldritt, Kerr-Barlow and Fiji center Levani Botia all crossed for tries.
La Rochelle meet Montpellier, who lost the second leg 33-20 but scraped past Harlequins 60-59 on aggregate after England semi-finalist Marcus Smith missed a conversion in the closing stages.
“We are happy to have them as guests and, above all, to be able to play a quarter-final in front of our fans,” said Alldritt.
“We really need to keep our feet on the ground,” he added.
“We’re happy with our performance and our qualifying. Just because we reached the final last year doesn’t mean that you can deny our place in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup.”
Bordeaux-Begles manager Christophe Urios said Vaipulus’ red card was the game’s turning point but called it ‘tough’.
“I don’t understand how unsportsmanlike a shoulder bump on a player can be. I didn’t find it dangerous even if it was done at pace.”
Munster achieved a 26-10 win over Exeter and a 34-23 aggregate win. They will play the winner of Saturday’s late game between Toulouse and Ulster in the quarter-finals.
“That’s what it takes against a side like Exeter,” said Munster captain Peter O’Mahony, whose side lost the first leg 13-8.
“We knew we had to come and go after the game and I thought we did that, especially in the first half. We have to do our best to beat a side like Exeter by more than five points.”
English Premier League leaders Leicester secured their place in the quarter-finals with a 27-17 home win over Clermont, finishing 56-27 on aggregate.
Leicester meet four-time champions Leinster in the last eight after the Irish province beat Bristol 35-29 (44-39 on aggregate) despite playing much of the game with just 14 men after Arron Reed in the first game had been sent off -half.
Champions Toulouse have a tough task later on Saturday as they are six points adrift of hosts Ulster and key players like hooker Julien Marchand are injured.
Sale looks set to take on Racing 92 in the next round – the three-time runners-up leading 22-9 against Stade Francais ahead of Sunday’s second leg.
La Rochelle, Munster into the quarter-finals of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup
Source link La Rochelle, Munster into the quarter-finals of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup