Two-time European Cup champions Munster reached the quarterfinals for the 13th time on Saturday with a battling 26-10 win over Castres to clinch a fifth victory in five Pool One matches this season.
After missing out on the knockout rounds last season, the Irish side became the first to make the quarterfinals this time around with a gritty win over the French side who are now out of contention.
Johne Murphy gave Munster an eighth-minute lead with a try while Ronan O'Gara kicked the conversion and three penalties for a 16-7 interval advantage although a Yannick Caballero try kept Castres in touch.
But South African loosehead prop Wian du Preez then ensured victory with a 68th-minute try - his first in the competition - with O'Gara again hitting the extras.
Munster's Australian coach Tony McGahan demanded his team step up their ruthlessness in the next round.
"We understand the opportunities which were created. What was poor was the handling on the end of things more than the positions we got ourselves in," he said.
"I thought we worked extremely hard to put ourselves in good positions, but the final pass and ruck detracted from the end product we were looking for."
Four-time champions Toulouse clinched a four-try, bonus-point 24-3 win over Connacht which gave them a two-point at the top of Pool Six over Harlequins who defeated Gloucester 20-14.
Louis Picamoles, Maxime Medard and a double from Fijian winger Timoci Matanavou gave the French giants victory.
Harlequins were indebted to a late try from Mike Brown for a victory which kept them in contention and eliminated Gloucester.
In Pool Two, Cardiff Blues, playing their 100th match in the competition, beat London Irish in Reading with Welsh skipper Sam Warburton grabbing the only try of the game early in the second half.
The win moved Cardiff to 17 points, the same as Edinburgh who had needed a last-minute drop goal from replacement flyhalf Phil Godman to secure a 27-24 win over Racing Metro on Friday.
Cardiff face Racing in their final match next weekend as they look to reach the knock-out stages for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
"The game last night did focus the mind somewhat," said Cardiff coach Gareth Baber.
"You can't avoid it but our whole focus this week has been making sure we control what we are doing irrespective what is happening outside of our environment.
"That extended to last night and what happened in Paris so we're pleased that we kept that focus.
"We certainly kept it through the game today and came away with the victory."
In Pool Four, Clermont ran in 12 tries in a 82-0 rout of hapless Italian side Aironi to move to 16 points, three behind Ulster, who eliminated double-champions Leicester 41-7 on Friday.
Clermont and Ulster will meet in France next weekend in the final round of matches, a game which will decide top spot in the section.
All Blacks winger Sitiveni Sivivatu grabbed a hat-trick of tries for Clermont as did fellow winger and Fench international Julien Malzieu.
Welsh fullback Lee Byrne scored two as did lock forward Alexandre Lapandry.
Australian flyhalf Brock James scored a try and was seven for seven in conversions while back-row forward Elvis Vermeulen completed the rout.
Defeat left the Italians without a point from their five matches.
Munster 26 Castres 10
Tries: Murphy, du Preez
Cons: O'Gara 2
Pens: O'Gara 4
Yellow card: Lacrampe (Castres - 54th min)
Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Johne Murphy, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (captain), 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Denis Fogarty, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Billy Holland, 21 Tomas O'Leary, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Danny Barnes.
Castres: 15 Romain Martial, 14 Vincent Inigo, 13 Paul Bonnefond, 12 Pierre-Manuel Garcia, 11 Pierre-Gilles Lakafia, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Jannie Bornman, 7 Steve Malonga, 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Matthias Rolland, 3 Anton Peikrishvili, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements: 16 Mathieu Bonello, 17 Michaël Coetzee, 18 Karena Wihongi, 19 Scott Murray, 20 Ibrahim Diarra, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Seremaia Bai, 23 Matthieu Nicolas.
London Irish 15 Cardiff Blues 22
For London Irish:
Pens: Jarvis 4, Armitage
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Halfpenny 5
Yellow card: Davies (Blues - 79th min)
London Irish: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Alex Gray, 7 David Sisi, 6 Bryn Evans, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 David Paice, 1 Clarke Dermody (captain).
Replacements: 16 James Buckland, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Paulica Ion, 19 Bob Casey, 20 James Sandford, 21 Tom Homer, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Paul Hodgson.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Paul Tito (captain), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Tyrell, 17 John Yapp, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Maama Molitika, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Richard Mustoe.
Toulouse 24 Connacht 3
Tries: Matanavou 2, Medard, Picamoles
Cons: Beauxis 2
Toulouse: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Yann David , 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Timoci Matanavou, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Louis Picamoles , 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Jean Bouilhou, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 William Servat, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Dan Human, 19 Grégory Lamboley, 20 Jean-Marc Doussain, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Clément Poitrenaud, 23 Shaun Sowerby,
Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (captain), 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Kyle Tonetti, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Paul O'Donohoe, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Ray Ofisa, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Dylan Rogers, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke 17 Denis Buckley 18 Stewart Maguire 19 Mick Kearney 20 Eoin McKeon 21 Dave Moore 22 Miah Nikora 23 Henry Fa'afili.
Harlequins 20 Gloucester 14
Tries: Hopper, Brown
Con: Evans 2
Pen: Evans 2
Pen: Burns 3
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Tim Fairbrother, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Richard Bolt, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Tom Casson.
Gloucester: 15 Jonny May, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Luke Narraway (captain), 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Will James, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Henry Trinder.
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