Saints discover Challenge Cup quarter-final opponents

Saints and Clermont will clash again in the quarter-finals (picture: Kelly Cooper)
Saints and Clermont will clash again in the quarter-finals (picture: Kelly Cooper)

Saints will travel back to Clermont Auvergne for the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

Having finished as one of three best runners-up, Chris Boyd's men must face Clermont, who are top seeds in the last eight.

Saints met Les Jaunards in Pool 1, which was topped by the French team, who enjoyed a blemish-free record, racking up 30 points from a possible 30.

Clermont beat Saints 41-20 at Franklin's Gardens in October, but the return meeting was much closer, with Saints scoring six tries in a thrilling 48-40 defeat.

And Chris Boyd's men, who smashed Timisoara Saracens 111-3 on Friday night, will now hope it's third time lucky as they return to Stade Marcel Michelin on the weekend of March 29.

Saints were handed the trip to Clermont after Bristol Bears thrashed Russian side Enisei-STM 107-19 on Saturday and Connacht claimed a bonus-point 33-27 success at Bordeaux-Bègles.

Should Saints win their quarter-final, they will definitely be on the road again, facing the winner of Worcester Warriors' home tie against Harlequins.

The semi-finals will be played on the weekend of April 19.

The Challenge Cup final takes place at Newcastle's St James' Park on Friday, May 10 (kick-off 7.45pm).

The qualifiers for the 2018/19 Challenge Cup quarter-finals and their rankings at the conclusion of the pool stage are as follows...
1 ASM Clermont Auvergne (winner Pool 1 – 30 points)
2 La Rochelle (winner Pool 4 – 24 points)
3 Sale Sharks (winner Pool 3 – 22 points)
4 Worcester Warriors (winner Pool 2 – 22 points)
5 Harlequins (winner Pool 5 – 21 points)
6 Connacht Rugby (best pool runner-up – 22 points)
7 Bristol Bears (second best pool runner-up – 21 points)
8 Northampton Saints (third best pool runner-up – 21 points)

The quarter-final matches to be played on March 29/30/31 are as follows...
QF 1: ASM Clermont Auvergne v Saints
QF 2: Worcester Warriors v Harlequins
QF 3: Sale Sharks v Connacht Rugby
QF 4: La Rochelle v Bristol Bears

SEMI-FINAL 1 - winner of QF 1: ASM Clermont Auvergne v Saints will play the winner of QF 2: Worcester Warriors v Harlequins

SEMI-FINAL 2 - winner of QF 3: Sale Sharks v Connacht Rugby will play the winner of QF 4: La Rochelle v Bristol Bears
The following clubs will have home venue advantage in their respective semi-final matches...

SEMI-FINAL 1
If ASM Clermont Auvergne (ranked No 1) and Worcester Warriors (ranked No 4) win their quarter-finals, Clermont will have home venue advantage
If ASM Clermont Auvergne (ranked No 1) and Harlequins (ranked No 5) win their quarter-finals, Clermont will have home venue advantage
If Worcester Warriors (ranked No 4) and Saints (ranked No 8) win their quarter-finals, Worcester will have home venue advantage
If Harlequins (ranked No 5) and Saints (ranked No 8) win their quarter-finals, Harlequins will have home venue advantage

SEMI-FINAL 2
If La Rochelle (ranked No 2) and Sale Sharks (ranked No 3) win their quarter-finals, La Rochelle will have home venue advantage
If Sale Sharks (ranked No 3) and Bristol Bears (ranked No 7) win their quarter-finals, Sale will have home venue advantage
If La Rochelle (ranked No 2) and Connacht Rugby (ranked No 6) win their quarter-finals, La Rochelle will have home venue advantage
If Connacht Rugby (ranked No 6) and Bristol Bears (ranked No 7) win their quarter-finals, Connacht will have home venue advantage