European Rugby Champions Cup
Kiwis star in final pool matches
Sam Bruce
January 25, 2016
Charles Piutau© David Rogers/Getty Images

Wasps have returned to the promised land of the European Rugby Champions Cup quarterfinals after crushing Leinster 51-10, a victory that was in no small part down to their Kiwi contingent and Wallabies great George Smith.

Charles Piutau, Frank Halai and Jimmy Gopperth all crossed for tries at the Ricoh while the latter also chipped in with a further 14 points from the kicking tee.

Smith, meanwhile, played a key defensive role with a match-high 16 tackles - the veteran No.7 showing England fans a glimpse of the experience and expertise he'll offer when he drops in on Eddie Jones' squad ahead of the Six Nations.

Wasps will now welcome Exeter Chiefs to the Ricoh Arena in early April after the West Country outfit finished top of Pool 2 on a dramatic afternoon at Sandy Park.

Clermont's failure to pick up a bonus point in their loss to Bordeaux Begles - which included a spurned penalty opportunity late on - meant the Chiefs finished at the summit of the Pool.

Thomas Waldrom© Stu Forster/Getty Images

New Zealand-born England international Thomas Waldrom played a key role in their win over the Ospreys, the back-rower scoring a double in the 33-17 triumph at Sandy Park.

In Paris, former Melbourne Rebels lock Hugh Pyle took the Australian bragging rights over Lachie McCaffrey and Peter Betham as Stade Francais proved too strong for Leicester.

And the two sides will face off again in the quarterfinals, this time at Welford Road, giving McCaffrey and Betham a shot at redemption against a side that could then feature Will Genia; the Wallabies half-back has been struggling with a knee injury since the Rugby World Cup.

There was no such joy for Stade's Parisian rivals, Racing 92, who suffered their first loss of the campaign in the absence of Dan Carter.

Chris Masoe© David Rogers/Getty Images

The 22-5 defeat by Glasgow couldn't be attributed to the work of Carter's fellow Kiwi Chris Masoe, though, the former Hurricanes and All Blacks forward running for an incredible 113 metres on a tough night for Racing in Scotland.

The result mattered little for Racing with them having already secured a home quarterfinal.

Toulon on Sunday were confirmed as their opposition with the three-time defending champions qualifying as one of top three runners-up. Bernard Laporte's side had a day earlier joined Wasps in progressing from Pool 5 with victory over Bath at The Rec.

The French side scored two tries to one, through Steffon Armitage and Springboks winger Bryan Habana, to triumph 19-14. Wallabies Quade Cooper and James O'Connor started at fly-half and full-back respectively, the custodian kicking three penalties to help Toulon across the line.

The European Challenge Cup quarterfinalists are also set, and Jake White's Montpellier will likely take some beating after warming up for the knockout stage with a thumping 42-9 victory over the previously unbeaten Harlequins. Former Brumbies backs Nic White and Jesse Mogg both picked up five-pointers for Montpellier while South African Demetri Catrakilis kicked 13 points.

Grenoble joined their French counterparts in the knockout stage with a victory over Edinburgh, with former Springboks and Stormers flyer Gio Aplon picking up a double in the 34-23 win.

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