Heineken Champions Cup: Permutations for final pool-stage matches

Saracens' Elliot Daly, Northampton's Taqele Naiyaravoro, Gloucester's Louis Rees-Zammit and Glasgow's Adam Hastings
Saracens, Northampton, Gloucester and Glasgow go into the final round of matches with qualification in doubt
Heineken Champions Cup
Coverage: Listen to live commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, local radio and online, with text commentary of Saracens v Racing 92 on the BBC Sport website and app on Sunday. Full schedule here.

Saracens, Northampton, Gloucester, Glasgow and Ulster are duelling it out for the three remaining Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final spots this weekend.

Exeter, Leinster and French trio Racing 92, Toulouse and Clermont Auvergne are already into the last eight.

They will be chasing the home advantage that has often proved crucial in the knockout stages.

Premiership sides Sale, Harlequins and Bath, along with Welsh side Ospreys, are already out of contention.

Final round of Champions Cup pool stage
Saturday 18 January
Lyon 24-36 Northampton
Benetton 0-18 Leinster
Ulster 22-15 Bath
Harlequins 19-26 Clermont
Sale v Glasgow (17:30 GMT)
Exeter v La Rochelle (17:30 GMT)
Sunday 19 January
Munster v Ospreys (13:00 GMT)
Saracens v Racing 92 (13:00 GMT)
Toulouse v Gloucester (15:15 GMT)
Montpellier v Connacht (15:15 GMT)

How it works

The five pool winners and the three best runners-up will make up the quarter-finalists.

The pool standings are initially decided on points - four for a win, with bonus points on offer for scoring four tries, and also for keeping a losing margin down to seven points or fewer.

If teams are level on points, the tie is broken by whichever has got more points from their head-to-head meetings, followed by the aggregate score and most tries in those same two matches.

If two teams from different pools finish level on the same points in the race for a runners-up spot or a quarter-final seeding, points difference and tries scored are the tie-breakers.

The four highest-ranked teams from the pool stages will be at home in the last eight. The two highest-ranked teams will also play the semi-finals at home if they progress that far.

The current standings

TeamPlayedPoints
Leinster628
Clermont624
Racing 92522
Exeter522
Toulouse522
Ulster621
Northampton619
Saracens514
Gloucester514
Glasgow512

Leinster secured a home quarter-final with victory at Benetton, while Northampton moved into the top eight with a bonus-point win at Lyon, but Saints could yet be pushed out again if results go Saracens and Gloucester's way.

Ulster secured their place in the knockout stages with a 22-15 win against Bath, while Clermont boosted their chances of a home quarter-final with victory against Harlequins.

As it stands, the quarter-final line-up would be:

Leinster v Saracens

Exeter v Toulouse

Racing 92 v Ulster

Clermont v Northampton

But there is still plenty to play for...

Who is getting the runners-up spots?

With three spots open to the best-placed runners-up, here are the respective records of the second-placed teams in more detail.

TeamPlayedTries forPoints differenceMatch points
Ulster6162221
Northampton619-1719
Saracens5103014
Gloucester5172114
Glasgow511-1212
Munster58011

Ulster have confirmed their runners-up qualification after beating Bath, meaning there are just two spots left.

Saracens host free-running, fast-scoring Pool Four leaders Racing 92 in their final pool-stage game. The defending champions, who face Premiership relegation over salary cap breaches, lost 30-10 in the reverse fixture in the French capital in November. A bonus-point victory would all but guarantee their place given their healthy points difference. A win would probably be enough. Anything less and they are in danger.

Gloucester have a tricky trip to Toulouse, who lead Pool Five with a 100% record. However, their points difference, considerably better than both Northampton and Glasgow, may prove telling.

Northampton claimed a late bonus-point victory at Lyon, putting pressure on Saracens and Gloucester who may have harder encounters given their opponents will be chasing home quarter-finals.

Glasgow are an outside bet. However, a bonus-point victory away to Sale, who are bottom of Pool Two, combined with Saracens and Gloucester failing to win or gain a try bonus point would take them through.

Munster, third on 11 points in Pool Four, have an even slimmer chance. They need Saracens and Gloucester to lose and for Glasgow to fail to win, plus a bonus-point win of their own at home to Ospreys.

Home advantage

TeamPlayedTries forPoints differenceMatch points
Leinster62812328
Clermont6249324
Racing 925237122
Exeter5206222
Toulouse5145622

Leinster confirmed their place as the quarter-finals' top seeds with an 18-0 victory at Benetton.

Exeter will guarantee a home quarter-final with a home victory over La Rochelle, and will book themselves in for a potential semi-final at Sandy Park if they better both Racing 92 and Toulouse's results.

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