Rory Kockott scored three tries for Castres against the Worcester Warriors in the final round of pool fixtures in the European Challenge Cup this weekend.
– Kockott‘s hat-trick helped Castres claim a 33-27 bonus-point win over the Worcester Warriors and top Pool 1 to qualify for the quarter-finals. Kockott crossed for his first try in the first half, but Castres went 20-12 down at half time, before the scrumhalf led the fightback by scoring twice in the second half, including a 74th-minute try which sealed the result. Castres had Robert Ebersohn at outside centre, while hooker Jody Jenneker and tighthead prop Daniel Kotze were second-half replacements. The Worcester Warriors, who missed out on a place in the playoffs, had Cornell du Preez at No 8 and Nic Schonert at tighthead prop with Richard Palframan, loose-forward Gerrit-Jan van Velze and centre Francois Venter as replacements.
– The Dragons were the next team to secure their playoff place as they thrashed Enisei 47-5. Despite the heavy loss, former Vodacom Bulls wing Bjorn Basson put in an outstanding individual performance for the Russian side, scoring their only try of the match while adding 83 running metres with three clean breaks and two offloads. Basson was joined by fullback Earll Dowrie in the starting lineup, while tighthead prop Ewald van der Westhuizen and lock Jeremy Jordaan came off the bench.
– Toulon completed a clean sweep of their pool as they powered to a 50-6 demolition of fellow Top 14 side Bayonne. The home side only led 14-6 at half time but cut loose and scored a further six tries in the second half. The result has Toulon topping the pool with 28 points.
– The Scarlets set up a meeting with Toulon in the playoffs after sneaking in as the eighth seed thanks to a 33-14 bonus-point win over London Irish. The Welsh side had Uzair Cassiem at No 8, with tighthead prop Werner Kruger getting 40 minutes from the bench. Lock Franco van der Merwe started for London Irish, while loosehead prop Allan Dell was a replacement.
– Duhan van der Merwe celebrated his new deal by scoring a try in a fine performance as Edinburgh claimed a 36-0 victory against Agen. The result has Edinburgh going through to the quarter-finals as one of the best pool runners-up. Along with his try Van der Merwe ran 82m from 10 carries, with one offload and one clean break. Jaco van der Walt was at flyhalf for Edinburgh and slotted two conversions and a penalty, while assisting one of their five tries. Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel both put in impressive showings in the Edinburgh front row, with Schoeman clocking 18 carries. Hooker Michael Willemse played 20 minutes as a replacement for Edinburgh. Johann Sadie started at outside centre for Agen, who finished bottom of Pool 3 with no wins and no points.
– Bordeaux will host Edinburgh in the final eight after beating Wasps 27-0 to ensure a home playoff. Going into the final round, Bordeaux had already made sure that they would win Pool 3. Jandre Marais was at lock for the French side and made nine tackles missing none. Meanwhile, Nizaam Carr stole the show in a solid outing at No 8 for Wasps. The loose forward made 20 tackles, missing just one, while also carrying for 55m and making a clean break. Ashley Johnson also started for Wasps at blindside flank but struggled to get involved before being replaced before the hour mark.
– Brive edged a thrilling nine-try match against Top 14 rivals Stade Francais. Ruan Combrinck and Lionel Mapoe were both in action for Stade, who finished bottom of Pool 4. Combrinck scored of the Parisian’s four tries after crossing the line in the first half, while Mapoe made 23m from four carries, with one clean break. Loose-forward Retief Marais played for Brive, who finished second in the pool.
– The Bristol Bears needed a try after the hooter to rescue a 7-7 draw with a 14-man Zebre side and progress unbeaten to the playoffs. In a game played in wet and muddy conditions, the Bears found themselves 7-0 down for much of the contest. However, the balance of the tie changed when Zebre lost flank Johan Meyer to a red card for a high no-arms tackle. That gave the Bears the boost they needed and after waves of attack, they found the breakthrough just after the full-time hooter.
The Leicester Tigers were able to progress to the final eight despite losing 24-17 to Pau. The Tigers secured a home quarter-final after a last-minute penalty gave them a losing bonus point, which was enough to have them top Pool 5. In the same pool, the Cardiff Blues went on a 10-try scoring spree to demolish Calvisano 64-3, but that was for nought as they missed out on a place as the best of the runners-up. Wing Kayle van Zyl, who was shown red for a high tackle, and lock Adam Wessels played for Calvisano.
European Challenge Cup quarter-finals:
Bordeaux vs Edinburgh
Toulon vs Scarlets
Leicester Tigers vs Castres
Bristol Bears vs Dragons
Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images