Ross Byrne dominates for Leinster, Exeter can still make progress, and Maro Itoje returns for Saracens who stay on top
Pool 1: Leinster primed to swat Wasps next
There is no stopping Leinster, that defeat at Toulouse proving a blip, and they will surely be too powerful for Wasps when the champions travel to Coventry next Sunday. Johnny Sexton watched his replacement Ross Byrne give a dominant display in the 29-13 win over Toulouse, once the bluebloods of Europe who are rediscovering some of their old princely form. If ever there was an illustration of English clubs’ fall from grace in Europe it was at the Recreation Ground where Bath and Wasps, with three Heineken Cup wins between them, fought out a meaningless game with Bath squeaking home 18-16 thanks to a late kick from Rhys Priestland. For Wasps there is some consolation in the return of Joe Launchbury who followed his return against Northampton with another captain’s performance.
Pool 2: Exeter still in frame but face Munster task next
Exeter Chiefs can still make progress after their convincing win over a demoralised Castres but Munster have only lost four times at Thomond Park in their European history and are dominating Pool Two. Saturday evening’s trip to Limerick will be mightily difficult for Rob Baxter’s men. It seems a long time ago now that Gloucester were celebrating that shock win at Exeter in the autumn. Danny Cipriani’s comeback was overshadowed by a brilliant performance by his opposite number Joey Carbery at Kingsholm on Friday evening. Carbery scored 26 points in a 41-15 win for Munster and controlled the game brilliantly. Johnny Sexton’s injured calf made may yet give Carbery the chance to shine against England. The game will not have made comfortable viewing for Exeter.
• Match report: Exeter 34-12 Castres
Pool 3: Lyon’s aged pack fail to dent Saracens
• Match report: Lyon 10-28 Saracen
Pool 4: Ulster will struggle to emulate class of ‘99
Ulster’s 1999 Heineken Cup winners were presented to the crowd before Saturday’s pulsating 26-22 victory over Racing 92, the tournament’s highest scorers in this season’s competition. Can Ulster repeat their feat of 20 years ago? They are three points adrift of Racing at the top but look much too strong for Leicester, who crumbled at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday evening, when they meet the Tigers next weekend. Ulster, though, may struggle to make it to the last eight as Racing will be too strong for the Scarlets in Paris. The Parisians are odds-on to secure a bonus-point win and the likes of Finn Russell and Simon Zebo can profit from the work of Racing’s powerful pack. Leicester, meanwhile, paid the price of fielding a weakened side in west Wales and their only goal is to not finish bottom of this pool. How the mighty have fallen.
Edinburgh are on course for their first quarter-final place for six years. If there were any doubts about their resurgence under coach Richard Cockerill they were dispelled at Stade Félix Mayol with a historic 28-17 win over Toulon, the first Scottish side to triumph there. A repeat display in Friday night’s meeting with Montpellier in the Scottish capital can give Edinburgh the bonus of a home draw in the last eight. Newcastle’s Champions Cup has been a mixed bag. They were also winners in Toulon, a result that really raise eyebrows, and they overcame Montpellier with a dramatic win with the last move of the game at Kingston Park but the battle against relegation and a raft of injuries did for them in Montpellier, hammered 45-8 to wipe out any mathematical hopes of making it to the last eight.
• Match report: Toulon 28-17 Edinburgh