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Home bonus if Ulster can raise the bar

By Niall Crozier

With Harlequins and Clermont Auvergne having 24 and 23 points after five of the six Heineken Cup pool-stage matches, they are assured of home quarter-finals.

Toulon also have 23 points and are definitely going through, either as pool six winners or runners-up depending on the outcome of their trip to Montpellier on Saturday.

However, Montpellier could yet top the group if they record a improbably big bonus point win.

A Toulon victory will give them 27 points — 28 with a bonus — and a home tie in the quarters.

Ulster have 19 points and have also qualified. Their goal, however, is a home match and that will not be easy to secure. Victory in Castres on Saturday would leave them with 23 points. Four tries or more would give them 24 thereby guaranteeing a Ravenhill quarter-final.

But the heat is on, for in addition to Montpellier, Mark McCall’s Saracens and Toulouse could finish with 23 points,too, whereupon the placings would hinge on tries scored and, if that fails to separate the sides, for-against points differentials.

The top eight go through, with the top four at home. The current situation is:

Harlequins: Pool 3 winners, 24 points, 27 tries, 227 pts for, 62 pts against, +165 (maximum possible 29 pts). Guaranteed home draw.

Clermont Auvergne: Pool 5 winners, 23 points, 19 tries, 184 for, 64 against, +120 (maximum possible 28 pts). Guaranteed home draw.

Toulon: Pool 6, 23 points, 23 tries, 183 for, 61 against, +122 (maximum possible 28 pts). Guaranteed quarter-finalists.

Ulster: Pool 4 winners, 19 points, 12 tries, 117 for, 47 against, +70 (maximum possible 24 pts). Guaranteed quarter-finalists.

Those scrambling for the remaining slots are:

Montpellier: Pool 6, 18 points, 15 tries, 145 points for, 106 against, +39 (maximum possible 23 pts)

Toulouse: Pool 2, 18 points, 14 tries, 127 for, 75 against, +52 (maximum possible 23 pts)

Saracens: Pool 1, 18 points, 10 tries, 140 for, 69 against, +71 (maximum possible 23 pts)

Leicester Tigers: Pool 2, 16 points, 13 tries, 110 for, 98 against, +12 (maximum possible 21 pts)

Munster: Pool 1, 15 points, 9 tries, 104 for, 67 against, +37 (maximum possible 20 pts)

Leinster: Pool 5, 15 points, 8 tries, 95 for, 76 against, +19 (maximum possible 20 pts)

Biarritz Olympique: Pool 3, 14 pts, 14 tries, 114 for, 85 against, +29 (maximum possible pts 19)

Northampton Saints: Pool 4, 14 pts, 6 tries, 74 for, 82 against, -8 (maximum possible pts 19)

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