Matsushima and Dupont send Clermont and Toulouse into Champions Cup quarters

The two French victories made up in part for the elimination of Toulon on Friday after their match against Leinster in Dublin was cancelled because of a COVID-19 case in the visitors's squad.

 Clermont came from behind to beat Wasps 27-25 in the European Champions Cup round-of-16 on 3 April 2021. Picture: @ASMOfficiel/Twitter

PARIS - Kotaro Matsushima wriggled over the line with the last play of the game on Saturday as Clermont came from behind to beat Wasps 27-25 in the European Champions Cup round-of-16.

Their reward will be a home quarterfinal meeting with fellow French side Toulouse, after Antoine Dupont's late double-strike saw the four-time champions past Munster 40-33 at Thomond Park.

The two French victories made up in part for the elimination of Toulon on Friday after their match against Leinster in Dublin was cancelled because of a COVID-19 case in the visitors's squad.

Clermont trailed by five points with barely 20 seconds left on the clock, when Wasps replacement Zach Kibirige went for an interception on the halfway line. He was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and was shown a yellow card.

From the penalty, Clermont kicked for a lineout on the Wasps 22 metre line.

After Clermont's forwards and bigger backs spent three minutes battering their way towards the Wasps line, Matsushima found a gap and, although tackled short of the line, squirmed over to level the scores.

Camille Lopez converted with the last kick of the game to send Clermont into the quarterfinals.

"I thought the boys showed massive character in the last 10 minutes," said Clermont No. 8 Fritz Lee

Clermont have reached the final of the competition three times but lost each time.

"As a club, as a personal dream, we're always trying to chase down that European Cup," said Lee.

After six minutes, Wasps centre Michael Le Bourgeois burst through a weak tackle and flipped the ball inside to winger Paolo Odogwu who had a clear run to the line.

Two minutes later, Wasps fullback Matteo Minozzi completed a passage of individual brilliance by dropping the ball as he opted for a spectacular dive over the tryline.

Within two minutes, France wing Damian Penaud pounced on a sloppy Wasps pass deep in the Clermont half and fed Sebastien Bezy who cantered over in the corner.

The visitors took the lead when prop Peni Ravai crashed over from close range but Wasps hit back when Bassett finished a fluid move.

Jacob Umaga converted a couple of penalties to put Wasps 20-14 ahead at the break.

Ben Harris touched down again for Wasps but two Camille Lopez penalties kept Clermont in touch and left the door open for Matsushima's last gasp heroics.

"You hold on. You hold on. You take your opportunities," said Neil McIlroy, the Clermont team manager.

DUPONT DOUBLE

Ireland wing Keith Earls gave Munster the perfect start against Toulouse, going over for two superbly taken tries within the space of three minutes, midway through the first half.

Three penalties from Romain Ntamack meant Toulouse only trailed 16-9 at the break and they moved level shortly after the restart when Ntamack chipped over the defence for wing Mathis Lebel to leap, catch, dive and finish all in one fluid movement.

After that, momentum swung back and forth.

"It was a bit of a ping-pong match for the rest of that second half," said Toulouse No. 8 Jerome Kaino.

Munster flanker Damian Coombes and Toulouse hooker Julian Marchand both rumbled over to keep the two giants toe to toe at 23-23.

In their previous six meetings, Munster held a 4-2 advantage, having won the last three encounters including the 2008 final and it looked as though they might make it 5-2 when JJ Hanrahan nudged them ahead with a penalty with 13 minutes remaining.

Toulouse, however, again responded in style as Lebel left Hanrahan clutching at thin air before feeding scum-half Antoine Dupont who went through for the try.

Ntamack added the conversion to make it 30-26 and added a penalty when James Cronin was penalised at a ruck.

Two minutes from time France scrum-half Dupont assured Toulouse's place in the last eight with his second try with his second try of the game.

Munster had the final say when Coombes also went over for his double but Toulouse marched on.

"Proud of the boys, how tight we were and how we set a plan and executed," said Kaino.

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