Defending champions Leinster thrashed Bath 52-27 on Saturday to go six points clear at the top of their group after four rounds of Heineken Cup pool matches.
Leinster’s classy display, which included seven tries, saw the Irish side collect a four-try bonus point and effectively put one foot into the knockout stages. Leinster now top Pool 3 with 16 points, while Bath are at the bottom with six.
It was the second time in a space of a week that Leinster had beaten the English side, though their performance was a huge improvement over their scrappy 18-13 win on Dec. 11.
The race to be the best-placed runners-up from the pool stages is already heating up and the Glasgow Warriors battled hard to finish level with Montpellier after a pulsating game that ended 13-13. However, it was the Scottish team that was fortunate in the end, with the French side missing a last-gasp penalty.
Glasgow’s forwards coach Shade Munro felt that with 10 points already to their name, they could progress to the knockout stages.
Glasgow face Leinster in Pool 3’s fifth round fixture and Munro believes it is fair to label the clash as the “biggest game in the history of Glasgow Warriors.”
In Pool 2, a hat-trick of drop-goals by Jonathan Wisniewski earned Racing Metro 92 their first win in the Heineken Cup, defeating the London Irish 25-19.
The French side’s revival might have come too late, but it has also made life difficult for the London Irish, who are now five points adrift of joint-leaders the Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh, both on 13 points. The London Irish will have to beat the two leaders in their remaining games to have a chance of progressing.
A late try by Jonny May also saw Gloucester claim a narrow victory over Connacht. The 23-19 win pushed the English side up to second in Pool 6 with nine points, three behind group leaders Toulouse.
Earlier in the day, Ulster fought off a spirited fightback from Aironi to go top of Pool 4 with 14 points after a 46-20 success. Ulster established a 27-3 lead in the first half, before tries by Sinoti Sinoti and Roberto Quarteroli gave the Italian side a ray of hope.
However, in the end Ulster’s quality showed as Craig Gilroy, Robbie Diack and Adam Macklin added to the scoreline and elevated Brian McLaughlin’s men to the top of their group, two points ahead of the Leicester Tigers.
The Tigers also showed grit in an early Saturday kickoff to overturn a nine-point deficit against ASM Clermont Auvergnand during a gripping 23-19 win, ensuring qualification from Pool 4 remains a three-horse race.
Leicester are now in second place with 12 points, one ahead of their French rivals. However, Clermont picked up a losing bonus point during the game and have a better head-to-head record.