Only Wasps sure of place


With one round of matches to go, only English champions Wasps are guaranteed a European Cup quarter-final place. The five group winners will secure berths in the last eight, with the best four given home draws.

The five runners-up and the best third-placed team enter the play-offs on November 1st-2nd, producing the remaining three quarter-finalists.

The groups look set to break down as follows:

Pool A: French champions Toulouse will win the group if they beat Leinster next weekend. Leicester should finish second, given their final match is against bottom team Milan. Pool B: Wasps have already won the pool with Glasgow in pole position for second spot. The Scottish side, level on points with Swansea, may have an easier task in entertaining Ulster next weekend while Swansea visit Wasps. Pool C: Leaders Bath must beat Pontypridd next Saturday to confirm first place. If they lose and cup holders Brive beat Scottish Borders, then the French club will take the automatic spot. Pontypridd are still best placed to be the third place qualifiers. Pool D: Harlequins are in pole position and will top the group providing they avoid defeat in Munster next weekend. Cardiff and Bourgoin meet at the Arms Park with the runners-up prize at stake, although Bourgoin would require a comprehensive victory to deny Jonathan Humphreys' team. Pool E: A win for leaders Pau over Caledonia yesterday would have effectively wrapped up the group - but it was not to be, and the 30-24 success for the Scots kept their hopes alive of qualifying via the play-offs. Llanelli are still favourites for the runners-up berth and need a point against Caledonia at Stradey Park next weekend. Forecast: Toulouse, Bath, Harlequins and Pau are likely to join Wasps as group winners. Favoured quarter-final play-off sides are Leicester, Glasgow, Brive, Cardiff, Llanelli and Pontypridd, whose matches will produce the three other qualifiers for the lasteight stage on November 8th-9th.

St Mary's College conveyor belt of talent, particularly behind the scrum, was in full flow as they orchestrated a runaway 32-12 win over Old Belvedere in the Kitty O'Shea's Leinster Championship at Anglesea Road yesterday.

Carlow continued their success in such lofty company with a wellmerited 27-12 away victory to Blackrock.