The Rugby’s On - Episode 9Jan 25
Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16: Your ultimate guide to this weekend's second legs as Europe's elite fight it out for a place in the quarter-finals
Everything you need to know as BT Sport brings you live coverage of every game from the last 16 of the Heineken Champions Cup
It's half-time in the last 16 of the Heineken Champions Cup as the great and good of European rugby do battle for a place in the quarter-finals.
With another intoxicating weekend of knockout drama in store, we preview every game from the last 16, with all eight matches available to watch exclusively live on BT Sport.
Read on for TV channel information, team news and live stream details.
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Friday 15 April
Leinster (26) vs Connacht (21) - 5.15pm, BT Sport 1HD
Our coverage of this weekend's eight second legs gets under way with an almighty bang as United Rugby Championship rivals Leinster and Connacht face-off again on Good Friday.
Leinster return to the Aviva Stadium with a narrow first-leg advantage after narrowly edging the first-leg encounter at 26-21 Connacht.
Despite making their debut in the knockout stage of the Heineken Champions Cup, Connacht produced a resilient display in front of a capacity Galway crowd to restict the four-time winners to a slender five-point first-leg advantage ahead of their rematch in Dublin this week.
As the two Irish sides prepare to settle their score in the Irish capital, Connacht Rugby head coach Andy Friend insists his side is relishing their underdog tag.
“No-one gave us a chance on Friday and probably no-one will give us a chance this week, which is great, because they’re the games that you just go and play - just go and do what you’re meant to do," said Friend.
“We know that if we do that, we can beat any team. So we go up there with nothing to lose and everything to gain."
With a a mouth-watering quarter-final tie with Premiership leaders Leicester in store should they progress past Connacht, can Leinster continue their quest for a record-equalling fifth Heineken Champions Cup crown or will Connacht write their name in Irish sporting folklore with an almighty upset?
Bristol Bears (10) vs Sale Sharks (9) - 7.45pm, BT Sport 1HD & BT Sport Ultimate
Having reached the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time in their history, Bristol will have high hopes of reaching the quarter-finals on Friday evening as they entertain Premiership rivals Sale.
The two sides met in the league back in January in a game featuring six tries at Ashton Gate, but it was less of a spectacle at the AJ Bell last weekend as Bristol edged an attritional affair 10-9.
The wait for the game's opening try was a long one as substitute Semi Radrada galloped over from halfway to give the Bears a slim first-leg advantage.
Bristol head coach Pat Lam had benched a host of first-team regulars - including Radrada - with the 2020 Challenge Cup winners languishing near the bottom of the Premiership table.
And the move had the desired effect as Radrada, Charles Piatau and captain Steven Luatua all made positive impacts off the bench to snatch victory at the death.
Looking ahead to Friday’s return leg, Lam said: “It’s all finals now and our whole season. We know it’s on the line, but we have a lot of confidence that the boys are tight and we will be better, but so will they.
Sale know a marked improvement in performance is required if they are to make the last eight for the second season running.
One silver lining for Sale and Sanderson was the return of Manu Tuilagi from injury, with the England centre appearing as a 49th-minute replacement.
Sanderson said: “He’s going to be massive for us. Manu is going to play a big part in the second leg.
“Getting him through the game, getting him fit, getting him more minutes than he had last week. He will be raring to go again.”
Saturday 16 April
Harlequins (26) vs Montpellier (40) - 12pm, BT Sport 2HD
Premiership champions Harlequins have given themselves an outside chance of progressing to the last eight after mounting a spectacular second-half fightback in their nine-try thriller at Montpellier.
Quins had lost all four of their previous Heineken Champions Cup knockout matches but their recent form promised more as they prepared to take on Top 14 leaders Montpellier.
But that optimism quickly evaporated as the hosts scored four tries and 26 unanswered points to take a seemingly unassailable lead into the break.
Gabriel N’gandebe, Cobus Reinach and Titi Lamositele all crossed for the French giants but it was former England number eight Zach Mercer who stole the show.
The ex-Bath back-rower gave English audiences a timely reminder of his talents with a brace of tries, including one sensational solo effort from 50 metres out.
But in echoes of their miraculous comebacks on the way to Premiership glory last season, Quins rose from the dead to keep the tie alive.
The visitors scored four second-half tries to keep themselves in in contention ahead of the second leg at Twickenham Stoop as George Hammond, Andre Esterhuizen, Joe Marchant and Louis Lynagh dotted down for the visitors.
Try-scorer Lynagh insists the Londoners remain confident they can overturn the 14-point deficit and move on to the last four.
“At half-time, we said we’ve been in this place before and come back. We just told ourselves to believe," he said.
“We did really well in the second half to come back and make it a closer game. We are really looking forward to getting better for next week.
“We have two more halves of rugby to come and we are looking forward to winning those two.”
Can the west Londoners produce another comeback for the ages to keep their European hopes alive or will the 14-point deficit prove too much to overhaul?
Munster (8) vs Exeter Chiefs (13) - BT Sport 2HD & BT Sport Ultimate
Thomond Park will be the setting for another unmissable European knockout tie as two-time Heineken Cup winners Munster bid to stay in the competition against 2020 champions Exeter.
The Chiefs will hope they don't end up rueing a golden opportunity to kill the tie off at Sandy Park after they failed to secure a significant first-leg advantage against an under-strength Munster.
With the visitors ravaged by injury and illness, Exeter started the game on the front foot with an early try from Stuart Hogg.
With half-time approaching and Munster's Jack O'Sullivan in the sin bin, the flood games threatened to open as the Chiefs crossed for a second try inside 40 minutes through Jacques Vermuleun.
But as the second half unfolded the momentum changed dramatically, first through the boot of Munster's Ben Healey and then yellow cards for Exeter's Olly Woodburn and Patrick Schickerling.
With the numbers game favouring Munster, Jack Daly capitalised to dot down for the Irish province's first try of the afternoon.
Waves of Exeter attacks were repelled in the closing stages to leave the Devonians disappointed, but it all makes for a mouth-watering return leg on Saturday afternoon with the tie delicately poised.
With Peter O'Mahony, Joey Carberry and Simon Zebo all set to return for the second leg, Johann van der Graan is relishing the prospect of a winner-takes-all clash on home turf,
He said: “In terms of the research we’ve done, you can’t win it in the first leg, but you can certainly lose it in the first leg and we feel we’re still in it at home.
“We’ve got to beat Exeter by six points at Thomond Park. We’ll go back and learn from this, so will Exeter. Two clubs that respect each other. ”
Tune in to find who will land the knockout blow when these two heavyweights slug it out on Saturday afternoon.
La Rochelle (31) vs Bordeaux-Begles (13) - 2.45pm, BT Sport 3HD
2021 runners-up La Rochelle will be looking to take another step towards avenging last season's Twickenham heartbreak when they welcome Bordeaux to the Stade Marcel Deflandre.
La Rochelle made it two away wins over Bordeaux in the space of a week as they followed up last Saturday’s Top 14 victory with a conclusive 31-13 first leg win in their Heineken Cup last 16 tie.
Five tries lit up a lively last-16 first leg at Stade Chaban-Delmas that saw La Rochelle pull away in the third quarter.
Raymond Rhule and France's Grand Slam winning centre Jonathan Danty touched down for the visitors, who were also awarded a penalty try, while Ihaia West slotted four penalties.
Cameron Woki and Federico Mori crossed for Bordeaux meaning they need to overturn an 18-point deficit to stand any chance of reaching the last eight.
La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara will be back on the sidelines this weekend after serving a two-week suspension for “indiscipline, in particular for challenging the decisions of match officials” incurred against Racing 92 three weeks ago.
Leicester Tigers (29) vs Clermont (10) - 5.15pm, BT Sport 2HD
Leicester Tigers play host to Clermont this weekend with the cushion of a commanding 19-point lead as they look to book a quarter-final meeting with either Leinster or Connacht.
The Premiership leaders produced a statement performance to down three-time European Cup finalists Clermont on their own patch in front of a capacity Stade Marcel-Michelin crowd in a result that will have sent shockwaves across the continent.
The result was all the more remarkable given Tigers were forced to play out the final 20 minutes with 14 men after Guy Porter saw red for a dangerous tackle.
But the hosts failed to make their numerical advantage count as Steve Borthwick's side held on for a memorable 29-10 win at the one of the most hostile venues in club rugby.
It was only Leicester’s second victory in Clermont, and a first in 17 years, but despite their healthy lead Borthwick stressed that the tie was far from over.
Borthwick said: “There is still 80 minutes to play and, as we saw today, it is up against a top-quality side in Clermont.
“The focus now goes to Saturday’s game at Mattioli Woods Welford Road and making sure we prepare well enough during the week to put in a performance in the second leg that will make our supporters proud.”
Tigers assistant coach and veteran scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth echoed Borthwick by dismissing any notion of complacency as Leicester close in on the last eight of the competition for the first time since 2016.
“We’ve got to attack this weekend because we are playing a brilliant, big French team that can score three tries in three minutes.
“We are pretty conscious of how hard it was to win on Sunday – the amount of try-saving tackles, the amount of defending on your own line. That’s what a team that wants to go somewhere and actually do something will recognise.”
Ulster (26) vs Toulouse (20) - 7.45pm, BT Sport 2HD
1999 winners Ulster are on the brink of dumping holders Toulouse out of the competition after pulling off the scalp of the season so far on Saturday afternoon.
Ulster knew they could be in for a tough time against a side that had won nine of their last 10 home games in European knockout rugby, so the early onslaught from Toulouse was no surprise.
Toulouse raced into a seven-point lead through Emmanuel Meafou's try, but then came a game-changing moment as Cruz Mallia's red card for a reckless tackle swung the tie in Ulster's favour, leaving the hosts to play for over an hour with 14 men.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Toulouse led going into the break but Ulster knew patience and so it proved as winger Robert Baloucoune scored a hat-trick of tries to seal a famous win on the road.
A win was secured but in the closing moments Toulouse showed their champions mentality with fly-half Romain Ntamack crossing the whitewash to give Ulster food for thought ahead of the second leg at Ravenhill.
Having kept Toulouse's stellar cast of world-class operators largely quiet during the first leg, Ulster's hat-trick Baloucoune admitted the defensive effort had taken a huge physical toll.
“We talked about Dupont and Ntamack and their world class players, but we always said we had the same ability, and we knew what we could do on our side of the game, and that showed in the match.
“It was still a really tough game (despite the early red card) and that showed at the end where there were a lot of boys cramping and as the game ended a lot of boys just falling down."
With Toulouse sure to come back with renewed vigour this weekend, can Ulster's wounded soldiers complete the job on Saturday evening?
Sunday 17 April
Racing (22) vs Stade Francais (9) - 7.45pm, BT Sport 2HD
Paris neighbours Racing 92 and Stade Francais will settle their Heineken Champions Cup score on Sunday afternoon after the two sides met for the very first time in European competition last weekend.
In a match dominated by kicking, Racing scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec slotted five penalties to provide the foundation for a 22-9 first-leg win as the Parisians look to end their long wait for European silverware.
Any hope Stade Francais had of reducing the deficit ahead of this weekend's second leg went up in smoke as hooker Tolu Latu was shown a straight red card 13 minutes from time for a dangerous tackle.
France's Grand Slam-winning centre Gael Fickou has taken his fine form onto the European stage and will once again play a pivotal role at La Defense Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The European Player of the Year nominee scored the only try at Stade Jean-Bouin, with Le Garrec kicking the other 17 points for the visitors.
With a 13-point deficit to overturn, two-time finalists Stade Francais will have to be at their very best to reach the showpiece for a third time.
Meanwhile three-time runners-up Racing are hoping to book their place in the final at Marseille's Stade Velodrome for the first time since losing out to Exeter in 2020.