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Gloucester seal last-eight berth

Gloucester sealed their place in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a straightforward 33-3 victory over Oyonnax at Kingsholm Stadium.

Gloucester needed only to avoid defeat to secure their place in the knockout rounds and top Pool Five, but they maintained their perfect group-stage record with a bonus-point win against the French side, who went into the game trailing the Cherry and Whites by seven points.

Gloucester scored five tries in total - with a penalty try and Billy Burns, Jonny May, Mark Atkinson and Dan Robson crossing the whitewash - to seal a comprehensive victory.

A strong first half helped the Newport Gwent Dragons secure top spot in Pool Three by beating Newcastle 40-29 at Kingston Park.

It was all but over by half-time as Newport ran in five tries in the first period - a penalty try accompanying scores from Tyler Morgan, Andrew Coombs, Hallam Amos and Rynard Landman - as the Welsh side raced into a 35-3 lead at the break.

Newcastle, who can now only reach the last eight by finishing as one of the three best runners-up, replied after the interval with tries from Chris Harris, William Welch, Andy Saull, and Juan Pablo Socino to earn themselves a losing bonus point, but it was too little, too late to rescue a result.

Edinburgh moved a point ahead of Bordeaux-Begles in Pool Four after picking up a losing bonus point in their 21-19 defeat by Lyon Olympique.

The Scottish side were seemingly cruising after first-half tries from Tim Visser and Matthew Scott, but the French outfit hit back with a score from Romain Loursac just before half-time and another from Damien Fitzpatrick 13 minutes into the second period.

Jerome Porical's 70th-minute penalty reduced Edinburgh's lead to one point and Fabrice Estebanez won the match for Lyon five minutes from time with a drop-goal.

Edinburgh still top the pool but only three points separate them and Lyon in third place with one round of fixtures remaining.

London Irish fought back from a seven-point deficit at half-time to beat Grenoble 43-41 and move to within a point of Pool One leaders Cardiff.

A seventh-minute penalty try after Alex Lewington's third-minute score gave the Irish a superb start, but Grenoble hit back with a brace of tries from Laurent Bouchet to take a 27-20 lead into the interval.

Tom Guest and Geoff Cross touched down to put the Irish into the lead after the break, but Grenoble wrestled back control of the game through tries from Louis Marrou and Julien Caminati.

There was, however, a late twist in the tale as Myles Dorrian and Andrew Fenby dotted down to hand victory to the Irish, whose director of rugby Brian Smith stepped down in midweek for family reasons.

Stade Francais kept up the pressure on Newcastle in Pool Three with a 47-12 win against Bucuresti in Paris to keep their chances of reaching the quarter-finals alive.

Jeremy Sinzelle, Jono Ross and Djibril Camara each scored a brace of tries as the Parisians picked up a bonus-point victory.

Montana Iaone also crossed the whitewash for the hosts, while scrum-half Vincent Mallet converted six of his side's seven tries.

The clash between Pool Five strugglers Zebre and Brive went the Italian side's way at the Stadio XXV Aprile.

A 56th-minute try from Kelly Haimona, a penalty try six minutes later and 13 points from the boot of Luciano Orquera gave Zebre a 23-13 win - only their second of the European campaign.

Brive, who have lost all five of their games, replied with a consolation try from Venione Voretamaya and eight points from Romain Sola.

Bayonne ended a run of three consecutive Challenge Cup defeats with a 14-0 win over La Rochelle.

The Basque side had not won since their opening triumph against Exeter - losing twice to Connacht and once to La Rochelle - but were too strong for their Top 14 counterparts, who are currently bottom of their domestic standings.

A first-half penalty try and a late score by Mathieu Visensang wrapped up victory for Patricio Noriega's side.


From Belfast Telegraph