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Frank Quinn takes a look at the broader picture of pool outcomes

By Frank Quinn
TWO from three Irish Clubs qualified for knockout stages:
As pool winners both Leinster and Munster have home draws in 2018.
Leinster and Munster finished on a high on the final day with wins and deserved their results and lofty positions. The odd one out was Ulster who went down in a winner take all game at Wasps. They lost two from six and finished on 17 points and Saracens qualified on 18 points as a runner up in pool 2 – that is how close they came (a couple of bonus points)
The overall result was France has four qualifiers: Clermont, Toulon, La Rochelle and Racing Metro 92 and looking at it in a business fashion it sets them up for a good 6N campaign on the back of winning club teams.
We have two qualifiers who are supplying the most players in Joe Schmidt’s squad, so they arrive in winning form to Ireland’s head coach; it is too early to say if there are any casualties along the way.
Scarlets are welcome to the top eight with a great comeback for a Welsh Club after a dozen years in the wilderness of Euro football, they are the current Guinness PRO 14 champions and they will enhance the competition.
Saracens are the sole representatives of the Aviva Premiership in this edition, having squeaked in as a pool runner up in the final game with a bonus point demolishing win over Northampton. They are going for a hat trick of successive Cup wins and play Leinster at the RDS at the end of March, they will be formidable opponents.
Munster has drawn the French side Toulon at Thomond Park – The Toulon Director of Rugby is Fabien Galthie and they won the Cup in 2013-2015 a record and Munster won it in 2006 and 2008 – ten years on. A Munster triumph would make a nice going away present for Simon Zebo.
The quarter-final matches to be played on 30/31 March/1 April are as follows:
QF 1: Leinster Rugby v Saracens
QF 2: Scarlets v La Rochelle
QF 3: Munster Rugby v RC Toulon
QF 4: ASM Clermont Auvergne v Racing 92
NB The exact dates, venues, kick-off times and TV coverage for the matches will be announced later.
So they are the winners for 2017/2018: Leinster unbeaten 6/6 scored 22 tries and 176 points to top both tables. Wasps picked up 4 TB points to top that table.
And the losers were: Harlequins 1 win from 6, Northampton won 1 game, Glasgow won 1 game, Leicester Tigers won 1 game, and Benetton Treviso lost 6 games and so supplied a runner up qualifier from their pool. Northampton shipped the most points against with 239. Bath and Ulster won 4 out of 6 to finish on 18 and 17 points respectfully, without qualifying.

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