European Champions Cup: Two mistakes from Freddie Burns costs Bath game against Toulouse, Exeter and Munster play out tense draw plus more

13 Oct

The European Champions Cup is back for another season and it was certainly a day to remember.

Here is the best of Saturday’s action from the competition.

Bath 20-22 Toulouse

Freddie Burns was guilty of two late blunders as Toulouse continued English clubs’ painful start to the Heineken Champions Cup by claiming a 22-20 victory over Bath.

A visibly upset Burns is consoled after the game

Less than 24 hours after European title holders Leinster crushed Wasps under a half-century of points in Dublin, Toulouse clinched a crucial Pool One win at the Recreation Ground.

And they were helped by Bath full-back Burns, who missed an easy 74th minute penalty chance and then blew a try barely 60 seconds later after crossing the Toulouse line before losing control of the ball under pressure from Toulouse defender Maxime Medard.

Centre Sofiane Guitoune scored two tries for Toulouse, including a clincher 17 minutes from time, while wing Medard also touched down and full-back Thomas Ramos kicked two conversions and a penalty.

Exeter 10-10 Munster

Exeter’s European Champions Cup campaign got off to a disappointing start after they were held to a 10-10 draw in a titanic struggle at Sandy Park.

The Gallagher Premiership leaders were unable to get past Munster

Exeter had only lost once in their last 17 games but came perilously close to losing this one as Munster had the lion’s share of possession and territory.

Luke Cowan-Dickie scored Exeter’s only try with Gareth Steenson adding a penalty and a conversion.

CJ Stander scored for Munster with Joey Carbery kicking a penalty and a conversion.

Ulster 24-10 Leicester

Second-half tries from Alan O’Connor, Will Addison and Jacob Stockdale earned Ulster a 24-10 win over Leicester in their Heineken Champions Cup opener.

Ulster’s John Cooney kicked all three conversions and a penalty to complete the Irish province’s scoring in the Pool Four clash at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.

Manu Tuilagi’s 75th-minute try came too little too late

The Tigers led at half-time thanks to a George Ford penalty but failed to score again until Manu Tuilagi’s 75th-minute converted try.

Montpellier 21-15 Edinburgh

Referee Wayne Barnes ruled out two tries for Edinburgh as they fell just short of a famous Champions Cup victory over Montpellier on French soil.

Montpellier, coached by the former Scottish national coach Vern Cotter, scored three first half tries on the way to a 21-15 victory, but it was Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh who dominated the final 40 minutes.

Edinburgh crossed for a try in each half and would have won the game if Barnes not ruled out a Hamish Watson try at the posts for offside and another by Magnus Bradbury for obstruction.

It was a brave effort from Edinburgh

In the end they had to settle for a losing bonus-point, although they had to scramble to keep hold of it after home skipper Louis Picamoles intercepted 30 metres out and almost reached the line for what would have been an extra point for the hosts.

Scarlets 13-14 Racing 92

Racing 92 opened their Heineken Champions Cup Pool Four campaign with a dramatic and controversial 14-13 victory over Scarlets.

The French side were trailing 13-7 in the final minutes when referee Matthew Carley awarded Racing a penalty try and also sent scrum-half Gareth Davies to the sin bin, and from there, Racing held on to win.

Racing’s two tries came at the end of the first and second halves with a losing bonus point being little consolation for Scarlets, last year’s semi-finalist’s, who led for most of the match.

Six Nations: Blair Kinghorn to make first Scotland start against Ireland

7 Mar
Six Nations: Blair Kinghorn to make first Scotland start against Ireland
Blair Kinghorn in action for Edinburgh

Blair Kinghorn will make his first start for Scotland against Ireland on Saturday after being named in Gregor Townsend’s side for their pivotal NatWest 6 Nations clash in Dublin.

The on-form Edinburgh wing’s inclusion is the only alteration to the side which beat England last time out, as he replaces the injured Tommy Seymour.

Kinghorn – who has scored eight tries for his club side this term – made his debut off the bench in that triumphant Calcutta Cup win a fortnight ago.

Now he will hope to play a part in a victory over Joe Schmidt’s side that will see the Dark Blues claw themselves back into Championship contention.

Glasgow wing Lee Jones comes onto the bench following the withdrawal of Scotstoun colleague Seymour with a back injury, while the Warriors’ Fraser Brown – who featured in all but two Scotland Tests last year – returns from injury to take Scott Lawson’s place as replacement hooker.

There is no place for Richie Gray, despite the giant Toulouse lock rejoining the squad after shaking off a troublesome calf injury as Grant Gilchrist gets the nod to start alongside his brother Jonny Gray.

Flanker John Hardie also misses out despite being handed a recall to Townsend’s squad this week for the first time since being suspended by his club side Edinburgh following allegations of cocaine use.

Scotland lost their opening clash to Wales but back-to-back wins over France and England have now raised hopes that they can make a bid for their first title since their 1999 Five Nations success.

Townsend said: “We were delighted with the result against England and backing up our win against France with an improved performance.

“The intent we showed in attack and defence in the first half was very encouraging and we continued to work hard in the second half. The effort that went into denying England a second try in the closing minutes was great to see.

“Our players had prepared very well for the challenge of taking on England and there has been a similar focus and commitment this week at training.

“There are a few areas of our game that we are working to improve and we are aware that we will have to be better if we are to beat a very good Ireland side in Dublin.”