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Two teams with almost identical Pool B records meet in Round 4 of the EPCR Challenge Cup as Toyota Cheetahs host Section Paloise in a crucial encounter on Sunday.
Both teams have won one and lost two heading into the pool stage finale and sit level on six points. Pau hover just inside the all-important top six, while Toyota Cheetahs are just outside on points difference.
It is set to be a hotly contested affair at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma – in the reverse fixture last month, Toyota Cheetahs came away with a battling 21-16 victory in France.
The match kicks off on Sunday at 15:15 (UK & Irish time), and can be watched on SuperSport, beIN SPORTS, Viaplay-Premier Sports, and FloRugby.
Round Three ✅
1️⃣ qualification spot left in Pool A, with 5️⃣ teams still in with a shot 👀
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 15, 2023
- Siya Masuku kicked the ball more in Round 3 than any other player (19). A round-high four of these kicks were retained. He has made more kicking metres than any other player in the competition (1,447).
- Friedle Olivier has made the most carries in the tournament (37). He has also made more metres than any other forward (146).
- Olivier and David Brits have both made four errors when carrying the ball – the highest individual total in the competition.
- Ewan Bertheau successfully claimed ten lineouts last weekend – more than any other player in Round 3.
- Thibault Debaes has made the joint-most crossfield kicks in the tournament (five, equal with Tiff Eden).
- Clovis le Bail has made more box kicks than any other player, with 25.
- Thibault Hamonou has made the joint-most dominant tackle contacts in the competition (six, equal with Scarlets’ Ken Owens).
- Section Paloise have the highest rate of tackle success in the competition, with 93 per cent.
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Siya Masuku kicked a last-gasp penalty to send Toyota Cheetahs through to the EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 with a 9-6 win over Section Paloise, who fell out of the qualification spots.
Masuku kicked three penalties from four attempts, with his pressure kick from distance the deciding factor in the scrappy, heavy-hitting affair at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
For Pau, Thibault Debaes kicked two penalties from three as his side failed to hold onto the draw which would have sent them through instead of Toyota Cheetahs.
It wasn’t until the 23rd minute when the game finally saw its first points, Masuku converting a penalty to put his side three to the good. But Pau quickly responded, with Debaes kicking a penalty of his own in the 29th minute.
Both sides missed penalties in the closing stages of the first half, with Toyota Cheetahs’ Jeandre Rudolph sent to the sin-bin on 37 minutes.
3️⃣6️⃣ #ChallengeCupRugby matches
We have our final 16 teams, who’s ready for knockout rugby? 🙋 pic.twitter.com/KpAZWpuFwJ
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 22, 2023
That gave Pau a man advantage for the opening moments of the second half, but the French side were only able to notch a further three points when Debaes kicked his second penalty to give his side the lead for the first time in the game.
Masuku eventually restored parity to the scoreboard, kicking three points on 65 minutes, and that appeared to be where the scoring would end as Pau edged towards qualification.
That was until the visitors conceded a penalty in the final play, which Masuku masterfully converted to send his fellow players into raptures.
Toyota Cheetah’s will now face another TOP 14 side in the Round of 16, visiting Pool A winners RC Toulon.