Saracens through in 11-try romp

Saracens scored 11 tries to blow away Connacht 64-6 and earn the last quarter-final place in the European Cup.

With a powerful display by their forwards, led by Schalk Brits, they ran wild on Saturday. The scoreline should have been more emphatic, but flyhalf Charlie Hodgson and Alex Goode missed eight conversions.

Brits set up a try for wing David Strettle with a smart, sharp throw-in and then scored one himself as the scrum pushed Connacht over the line. The familiar rolling maul became a feature of their play which demoralised the Irishmen and allowed the Saracens backs to break free at will. Strettle went on to score a hat-trick and wing Chris Ashton two as the game became an embarrassing romp.

Toulouse, as expected, consolidated their position at the top of Pool 3 by beating lowly Zebre 16-6 although they had to wait until the Italian team were down to 13 men before Sebastien Bezy scored their first try and only in the 37th minute. Mauro Bergamasco and former Free State and Lions No 8 Dries van Schalkwyk were binned within three minutes of each other. Toulouse, off colour and off the pace, could not make any further headway against a dogged defence apart from two penalties in the second half.

So the final eight was weighted decidedly towards Irish and French teams – Ulster, Munster, Leinster; Toulon, Toulouse, Clermont – against the English pair of Leicester and Saracens.

In a fight for last-eight positioning, Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar scored all of Ulster's 22 points with a try, conversion and five penalties, to lock up a home quarter-final when he dominated the Pool 5 match against Leicester. He produced a display of unwavering control and turned the tide when he charged down Toby Flood's lethargic clearance as the Irish ran out 22-19 winners. They will play Saracens in the quarter-finals.

In Pool 2 former Stormers flank Don Armand scored Exeter's only try as they surprised Cardiff 19-13 for only their second win of the tournament, while Toulon held off a spirited fight by Glasgow to win 15-8 (all to Jonny Wilkinson penalties) and secure a home quarter-final.

Weekend results:

Northampton Saints 13 Castres 3
Leinster 36 Ospreys 3
Saracens 64 Connacht 6
Zebre 6 Toulouse 16
Cardiff 13 Exeter 19
Glasgow 8 Toulon 15
Leicester 19 Ulster 22
Montpellier 24 Benetton Treviso 6

Sunday fixtures:

Scarlets vs Harlequins
Clermont Avergne vs Racing Métro
Munster vs Edinburgh
Perpignan vs Gloucester

European Cup logs

Leinster through to last eight

Photo: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images