Leinster romp into Euro quarter-finals

 Isa Nacewa (Getty)
Isa Nacewa (Getty)

Paris - Three-time winners Leinster raced into the European Champions Cup last-eight on Friday with an eight-try, 57-3 humiliation of Montpellier who had Springboks star Francois Steyn red-carded for a sickening tackle on Jonny Sexton.

The Irish side, champions in 2009, 2011 and 2012, ensured top spot in Pool 1 with 21 points with a trip to Castres to come next week where they will aim to guarantee a home tie in the quarter-finals.

Leinster were already 14-3 ahead by the 26th minute thanks to tries from skipper Isa Nacewa and flank Jack Conan.

But Montpellier's hopes were dashed when 2007 World Cup winner Steyn was sent-off for a head-high dangerous tackle on Irish fly-half counterpart Sexton.

While Sexton lay pole-axed on the ground, the bearded 29-year-old Steyn, who had kicked the French side's only points, was red-carded despite his protests.

Nacewa popped over the resulting penalty before Leinster grabbed their third try of the first half through flying winger Adam Byrne who sprinted over for his third try in the tournament this season.

The onslaught continued after the break with Conan adding the fourth try just before the hour mark, bullying his way past four defenders to score under the posts.

It gave Leinster the bonus point with Sexton adding the extras for good measure against a weary-looking Montpellier.

Conan went on to complete his hat-trick later in the half with Luke McGrath, Cian Healy and Garry Ringrose also scoring for a rampant Leinster.

On Sunday, three-time champions Toulon welcome back Australian playmaker Matt Giteau for their make-or-break match against Sale.

Toulon trail reigning champions Saracens by eight points in Pool 3 and with a visit to the English giants to come in round 6, their penultimate round-robin outing against the Sharks is a must-win encounter.

Giteau, a key man in Toulon's hat-trick of titles from 2013-15, is back to fitness after suffering a broken ankle and an additional leg fracture playing for the Wallabies against New Zealand in the Rugby Championship.

Munster and Glasgow are locked at the top of Pool 1, with Leicester in third and Racing 92, last year's beaten finalists, pointless in fourth.

And Pool 2 sees a three-way shared lead between Wasps, Toulouse and Connacht, with Italian whipping boys Zebre bottom.

Arguably one of the matches of the weekend will be Munster's trip to Glasgow on Saturday, with the two teams having hit some great form.

The Irish province smashed Racing last week and have already beaten the Warriors, 38-17, in the second round of matches.

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