sports 4 days ago

Ospreys, Clermont set-up European Cup last-eight decider

AFP

London (AFP) -

Welsh international fly-half Dan Biggar kicked a last-minute penalty as Ospreys drew 15-15 with Saracens on Saturday, setting-up a win-or-bust clash with Clermont next week for a spot in the European Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Biggar slotted over all of his team's points to match English counterpart Owen Farrell whose personal haul may still not be enough to keep the defending champions in the tournament.

Clermont's hopes of becoming the first team to guarantee a quarter-final spot stalled in a 34-21 loss at Northampton.

Now Pool 2 will be decided in France when they host Ospreys.

Clermont, last season's runners-up, have 18 points, three more than the Welsh region who will be hoping to make the quarter-finals for the first time since 2010.

Saracens have 13 points and will finish their campaign at home to Northampton knowing their hopes of hanging on to their trophy are slim at best.

"Qualification is still in our control, we're not dependent on other results," said Ospreys coach Steve Tandy.

"It's about us going to France and hopefully scoring points and taking the game."

Injury-ravaged Clermont, who had won all four of their Pool 2 games this season, failed to even garner a losing bonus point at Northampton who ran in five tries courtesy of Teimana Harrison, Nafi Tuitavake, Ben Foden, Ken Pisi and Cobus Reinach.

Clermont have been ravaged by injuries, so much so that last weekend they were forced to field nine youth players in their matchday squad in the 58-6 rout by Racing 92 in the Top 14.

"The season is very complicated for us at the moment," said Clermont's English winger Nick Abendanon.

"We have virtually an entire team in the casualty room but we remain a great side. We will just have to finish the job at home next week."

On a miserable day for French clubs, Ulster moved top of Pool 1 with an impressive 20-13 home victory over La Rochelle while, in Pool 3, Exeter crushed visiting Montpellier 41-10.

La Rochelle could have ensured a place in the last eight with a win but will enter the final round of games trailing Ulster, who leapfrogged them with the win, by a single point.

The victory represented a rapid change in form by Ulster, thrashed 38-7 away to Leinster in the Pro14 last week.

"Today we knew that we had to do better against a team as good as La Rochelle," try-scorer Rory Best said after the match. "We showed the determination and resilience of our side."

In the final round next weekend, Ulster travel to Wasps while La Rochelle host Harlequins.

Harlequins later downed Wasps 33-28 to leave the destiny of the pool in the hands of Ulster and La Rochelle.

Wasps' England flanker James Haskell was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Jamie Roberts late in the game and faces a suspension that could affect his availability for the Six Nations.

At Sandy Park, Dave Ewers scored a 28th-minute try to give Exeter a narrow half-time lead against Montpellier.

Montpellier cracked after the break as Exeter scored five tries in 19 minutes, the pick of them two acrobatic touchdowns in the left corner by Olly Woodburn.

Exeter are second in Pool 3, a point ahead of Montpellier, but Leinster can now clinch first place when they host Glasgow on Sunday.

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