Fourteen-man Exiles in dramatic win
CHALLENGE CUP WRAP: Curtis Rona’s last-gasp try stole 14-man London Irish a dramatic 41-35 victory over Cardiff Blues.
Jarrod Evans’ drop-goal put the Blues back into a 35-34 lead with time ticking away, but Irish broke the length of the field with centre Rona finishing in style.
Declan Kidney’s side was forced to play the majority of the second half with 14 men after prop Will Goodrick-Clarke was sent off, but Irish pulled a victory out of the bag to book a quarterfinal trip to the Recreation Ground to face Bath.
Irish beat Bath 36-33 only last weekend in a feisty Premiership battle that featured two red cards and also led to a citing which all resulted in bans for a trio of Bath players.
Kristian Dacey, Josh Adams, Jason Harries and Lloyd Williams all crossed for Cardiff, with flyhalf Evans slotting three conversions and two penalties to add to his late drop-goal.
But Ollie Hassell-Collins bagged a brace for Irish, who also had Ben Loader and Terrence Hepetema on the score sheet.
Former Ireland flyhalf Paddy Jackson’s five conversions and two penalties also proved pivotal for the hosts.
Bath had earlier set up that last-eight Challenge Cup battle with Irish by fighting back to beat Zebre in Italy.
Beno Obano, Anthony Watson and Jacques du Toit plundered tries to drag Stuart Hooper’s team back from the brink with a 35-27 win over the Italians who struggled in the recently finished Pro14 season.
Pierre Bruno bagged a hat-trick for Zebre, but the hosts were ultimately unable to hold off the Bath comeback.
Joe Cokanasiga and Will Stuart also crossed for five-try Bath, who now move into the last eight.
Paolo Pesetto posted two penalties to tee up a tense finale in Parma, but Bath ground home with du Toit’s try proving crucial.
All Friday’s scores and scorers
Zebre 27-35 Bath
Tries: Bruno 3
Cons: Canna 3
Pens: Pescetto 2
Tries: Cokanasiga, Stuart, Obano, Watson, Du Toit
Cons: Spencer 5
Zebre: 15 Gabriele Di Giulio, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Tommaso Boni (captain), 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Maxime Mbanda, 6 Potu Junior Leavasa, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 David Sisi, 3 Giosue Zilocchi, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Jacopo Bianchi, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Paolo Pescetto, 23 Federico Mori.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Miles Reid, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Josh McNally (captain), 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Max Wright, 23 Alex Gray,
Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)
Assistant referees: Andrea Piardi (Italy), Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)
London Irish 41-35 Cardiff Blues
For London Irish
Tries: Loader, Hassell-Collins 2, Hepetema, Rona
Cons: Jackson 5
Pens: Jackson 2
For Cardiff Blues
Tries: Dacey, Adams, Harries, Ll Williams
Cons: J Evans 3
Pens: J Evans 2
DG: J Evans
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Rob Simmons, 4 George Nott, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke.
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Sean O’Brien, 22 Ben Meehan, 23 Terrence Hepetema.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan , 14 Josh Adams , 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull (captain), 7 James Botham, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Corey Domachowski.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Ben Thomas, 23 Jason Harries.
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson (England), Gareth Holsgrove (England)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)
Montpellier 26-21 Glasgow Warriors
Tries: Guirado, Bouthier
Cons: Lozowski 2
Pens: Lozowski 4
For Glasgow Warriors
Pens: Hastings 5, Thompson 2