Leicester, Saracens storm into European Cup quarter-finals

Paris (AFP) - English giants Leicester and Saracens stormed into the European Champions Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, securing crucial home ties in the process.

Leicester, the 2001 and 2002 winners, ran in seven tries in a 47-7 mauling of Italian minnows Treviso for a fifth win in five games in Pool 4.

Saracens also claimed a bonus-point 33-17 victory over Ulster in Pool 1 to keep their perfect record intact.

At a cold, snow-hit Welford Road, Leicester had their bonus point wrapped up by half-time, running in four tries through Mike Fitzgerald, a penalty try awarded after Treviso collapsed a maul, Vereniki Goneva and Adam Thompstone.

In between, Treviso had grabbed a shock try when they were 21-0 down as Andrea Pratichetti burst through a rare gap in the home side's defence.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs claimed the fifth Tigers' try early in the second half after sprinting 50 metres off a quickly-taken line-out.

Freddie Burns added a sixth from close range, pouncing on his own, quick-thinking kick ahead before replacement back-rower Laurence Pearce scored his maiden European try.

"We are very pleased to put 47 points on the opposition, we spoke in the week about doing a professional job and not taking our foot off the gas and I feel like we did that," said Leicester lock Dom Barrow.

"It's hugely exciting to be playing in the competition and a home quarter-final to look forward to."

Irish centre Luke Marshall gave Ulster an early lead at Saracens but a try from Billy Vunipola helped the English Premiership leaders into a 13-7 advantage at the interval.

Duncan Taylor, Maro Itoje and Schalk Brits added further scores for Saracens in the second half which allowed them to secure a home tie in the quarter-finals.

The win also helped Saracena ease the disappointment of losing their unbeaten record in the Premiership at the hands of Harlequins last week.

Saracens, the runners-up to Toulon in 2014, have 24 points while 1999 champions Ulster stay in second place in the pool on 13 points, still with a chance of making the knockout rounds as one of the three best runners-up.

"This competition is massive -- it's the best of the best," said Saracens' England fly-half Owen Farrell, who was named man of the match for his inspirational playmaking and his 13 points.

"We don't pick and choose when to turn up in matches, because we want to win every game, but we have been up there in the Champions Cup in the last few years."

- Toulouse slump -

Four-time champions Toulouse slumped to the foot of the table after a 32-14 loss at French rivals Oyonnax.

In the same Pool 4 as Leicester, Irish province Munster severely dented the hopes of French champions Stade Francais with a 26-13 home win.

The bonus point win was just their second success of the pool stages and left them in third place with 10 points.

Munster, the 2006 and 2008 champions, had the best of a physical first half at Thomond Park, scoring two tries through hooker Mike Sherry and centre Keith Earls.

The French had only two Morne Steyn penalties to show for their efforts as Munster turned with a 12-6 lead.

Winger Simon Zebo extended Munster's lead early in the second period before Stade got themselves back into the game when flanker Jonjo Jones thundered in under the posts from 25 yards out.

The door was briefly open for Stade but three minutes later it shut again as the Munster pack bossed their way forward and South African flanker and club skipper CJ Stander muscled his way over.

Bordeaux edged Exeter 34-27 in a Pool 2 thriller but Welsh side Ospreys still lead the group after a superb 21-13 win on Friday over last year's runner-up Clermont and remain two points clear.

In Pool 5, 2011 and 2012 champions Leinster recorded their first win in the tournament this season, beating 1998 winners Bath 25-11 with Ian Madigan enjoying a 20-point haul.

However, neither side can make the last eight with Wasps and defending champions Toulon, who meet Sunday, battling for qualification.