Round two of the Heineken Champions Cup Last-16 knockouts got underway yesterday with both ties hanging in the balance.
First up four-time champions Leinster welcomed Connacht to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Heading into the fixture Leinster had a five-point head start courtesy of their 26 – 21 win in Galway a week earlier.
Despite starting out the better of the two sides, Connacht felt the full power of what an in-form Leinster can bring to the table as they succumbed to a 56 – 20 loss.
For Leinster the win sets up a likely Quarter-final clash with an in-form Leicester Tigers who thrashed Top14 giants Clermont Auvergne 29 – 10 in round one.
In the second fixture of the bank holiday weekend, Sale Sharks and Bristol Bears met at Ashton Gate in Bristol. Following a tetchy and close affair in round one, the Bears came into the game with a one-point advantage.
Despite this one-point advantage and being at home the Bears couldn’t come close to Sale who despite being a man down for a large junk of the contest came away with a deserved 35 – 29 victory.
Both sides scored some scintillating tries but none more so than this one from the Sharks. Following a high hanging kick-off from Robert Du Preez to start the second half, Bristol got their jump slightly off which saw the ball fall into the hands of Manu Tuilagi.
The England centre showed once again why he is so crucial to both his club and countries success as he barged his was forward before popping up a slick offload to a charging Jean-Luc Du Preez who in turn found winger Tom Roebuck for the score.
The away side’s victory sets up a clash with either Racing92 or Stade Francais depending on today’s result.