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La Rochelle, Munster into Euro Cup quarters


Paris (AFP) – Kiwi playmaker Ihaia West notched up 16 points as last season’s losing finalists La Rochelle beat Bordeaux-Begles to line up an European Champions Cup quarter-final against Montpellier, one-point victors over English champions Harlequins on Saturday.

West, along with compatriot Tawera Kerr-Barlow, was instrumental in La Rochelle’s 31-23 win over Bordeaux for a 62-36 aggregate score.

Bordeaux’s chances crumbled when they were reduced to 14 men after 26 minutes as Wayen Barnes was left with no choice but to red card Ma’ama Vaipulu for a dangerous off-the-ball shoulder barge.

The visitors had no answer as West, France No 8 Gregory Alldritt, Kerr-Barlow and Fiji centre Levani Botia all crossed for tries.

La Rochelle will play Montpellier, who lost the second leg 33-20 but scraped past Harlequins 60-59 on aggregate after England fly-half Marcus Smith missed a conversion in the dying stages.

Munster powered to a 26-10 victory over Exeter for a 34-23 aggregate win. They will play the winners of Saturday’s late match between Toulouse and Ulster in the quarters.

“That’s what it takes against a side like Exeter,” said Munster skipper Peter O’Mahony, whose side lost the first leg 13-8.

“We knew we had to come in and go after the game and I thought we did that in the first half particularly. We have to be at our best to beat a side like Exeter by more than five points.”

Champions Toulouse have a tough task later on Saturday as they trail hosts Ulster by six points and have key players, such as hooker Julien Marchand, injured.

On Friday, James Lowe scored four tries for Leinster as the four-time champions cruised to a 56-20 win over Connacht on the night (82-41 on aggregate) and a place in the last eight.

They will face either Leicester or Clermont in the last eight — the English side lead 29-10 from the first leg.

Sale joined Leinster in the quarter-finals, beating Bristol 35-29 (44-39 on aggregate) despite playing a large part of the match with just 14 men after Arron Reed was sent off in the first-half.

Sale look set to face Racing 92 in the next round — the three-time finalists lead Stade Francais 22-9 going into Sunday’s second leg.

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