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Big guns fire into quarters

Monday, January 13, 2014

PARIS - Defending champions Toulon, heavyweight French rivals Clermont, and former winners Munster all secured places in the quarter-finals of the European Cup yesterday.

The day's results also ensured Ulster will advance as at least one of the two best runners-up.

A Jonny Wilkinson-skippered Toulon side had too much power for Cardiff Blues in Pool 2, running out 43-20 winners thanks largely to a completely dominant scrum. A bonus point for a fourth try at the death — unusually a third penalty try, set Toulon atop their pool on 20 points, with the Blues in second on 13.

Winger David Smith scored Toulon's other try, with Wilkinson booting four penalties and four conversions.

The Blues scored tries through Filo Paulo and Sam Hobbs, with British Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny hitting two penalties and two conversions, but they paid for four yellow cards.

Clermont overcame a 10-point half-time deficit to claim a narrow 16-13 away victory over Harlequins.

The win meant the French giants will top Pool 4, having already amassed 19 points from their five games, seven ahead of second-placed Quins with a game in hand.

Munster, meanwhile, booked their 15th appearance in the last eight as Pool 6 winners after an impressive 20-7 win at Gloucester.

The 2006 and 2008 champions had tries from Keith Earls and Peter O'Mahony to thank for the win. Elsewhere in Pool 6, Edinburgh beat Perpignan 27-16.

In Pool 5 action, two-time Cup winners Leicester withstood an early onslaught from Italian outfit Treviso to run out 34-19 bonus-point winners.

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