European Rugby Champions Cup round-up: Newcastle claim brilliant victory over Montpellier, Leinster suffer agonising defeat at Toulouse

21 Oct

It’s been an eventful day in the European Champions Cup. Here is the best of Sunday’s action.

Newcastle 23-20 Montpellier

Newcastle snatched a dramatic 23-20 victory over star-studded Montpellier to go top of their pool in the Champions Cup.

With England head coach Eddie Jones in the stand, Newcastle led 16-6 at half-time and after last weekend’s heroics against Toulouse, the Falcons looked to be heading for another win against a side boasting a dozen internationals led by France number eight Louis Picamoles.

But Ruan Pienaar kicked two crucial penalties and lock Paul Willemse rumbled over for a try to give the visitors a 20-16 lead. But with the clock showing full time, the Falcons mounted one last attack following a penalty to the corner and after a staggering 39 phases, lock Callum Chick was driven over and Joel Hodgson converted for a last-gasp victory which takes Newcastle top of pool five.

Callum Chick and Gary Graham celebrate the brilliant win for Falcons

Toulouse 28-27 Leinster

Leinster’s impressive unbeaten run in the Heineken Champions Cup shuddered to a dramatic halt as the reigning champions fell to a 28-27 defeat at Pool 1 rivals Toulouse.

After last weekend’s bonus-point victory over Wasps, Leinster – who won all their games on their march to the title last season – started the match at Stade Ernest Wallon as favourites against their fellow four-time European champions.

But an end-to-end game turned on a raking length-of-the-field interception try in the dying minutes.

Replacement Louis-Benoit Madaule picked up a loose pass and released Toulouse’s flying backs division. Moments later, Maxime Medard scored his second try of the afternoon to wrest back a lead the hosts had held until midway through the second half.

Leinster was so close to claiming the win

Cardiff Blues 12-29 Glasgow

Glasgow opened their Heineken Champions Cup account with a 29-12 bonus point victory over Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.

But the real beneficiaries were Pool Three leaders Saracens, who are four points clear of their rivals heading into December home and away fixtures against the Blues.

Glasgow, beaten at home by Saracens last weekend, did not look back after fly-half Adam Hastings and wing DTH van der Merwe scored tries in the first five minutes.

Hastings also added a conversion and penalty before half-time, and when scrum-half Ali Price rounded off a crisp move early in the second period, the only serious debate was whether or not Glasgow would claim a five-point maximum.

Early tries from Adam Hastings (pictured) and DTH van der Merwe set Glasgow on their way to victory

Glasgow got there when lock Jonny Gray added a fourth try 12 minutes from time – again converted by Hastings – and there was no doubting their supremacy over a Blues side that fell way short of repeating last Sunday’s performance when they beat Lyon in France.

Wing Aled Summerhill claimed two consolation tries for the Blues, with Gareth Anscombe adding a conversion, but they were also chasing a game that, in truth, was beyond reach following Glasgow’s early onslaught.

European Champions Cup: Newcastle claim shock win at Toulon, Danny Cipriani impresses for Gloucester in front of Eddie Jones

14 Oct

Here’s what happened in Sunday’s European games.

Toulon 25-26 Newcastle

Newcastle kick-started their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a stunning 26-25 win against three-time European champions Toulon on their own patch, becoming just the second side to do so.

Their only previous defeat in 24 games in Europe’s top tournament had been against Saracens two years ago, and Newcastle – bottom of the Gallagher Premiership going into the game – had to do it the hard way.

Newcastle celebrate their stunning victory

Dean Richards’ side found themselves 10 points behind early on after conceding one of the quickest tries in the history of the competition when giant lock Romain Taofifenua charged down a clearing kick with only 21 seconds on the clock.

Francois Trinh-Duc added the conversion and then kicked a seventh-minute penalty to make it 10-0 to the home side, but that was as good as it got for the hosts.

They had three players sent to the sin-bin – prop Jean-Baptiste Gros, full back Daniel Ikpefan and winger Julian Savea – and were left to rue a decision in the final five minutes to kick for the corner, rather than take the three points on offer that might have won the game.

But after Loan Goujon’s opening try and Lionel Beauxis’ conversion and penalty, the visitors gradually took command to show their attacking prowess, with Gareth Anscombe scoring a spectacular solo try during the fightback.

Gloucester 19-14 Castres

Gloucester became the first English club to win a game in this season’s Champions Cup as they beat Castres at Kingsholm.

And four days before England head coach Eddie Jones names his autumn Test squad, fly-half Danny Cipriani led from the front.

The Gloucester playmaker, who was left out of Jones’ latest training group last month, kicked four penalties and a conversion for a 14-point haul as the England boss looked on.

Cipriani was on form in Gloucester’s win

Glasgow 3-13 Saracens

Saracens were made to scrap all the way as Mike Rhodes’ early try proved enough to see off gritty Glasgow 13-3 at Scotstoun.

The two sides had crossed a combined 57 tries in just six matches apiece in the build-up to their Heineken Champions Cup opener but the expected score-fest failed to materialise.

Instead, the cross-border skirmish proved to be a tense, bad-blooded affair pot-marked by basic errors, inexplicable refereeing calls and numerous feisty head-to-heads.

Rhodes’ early try set Sarries on their way to the win

In the end, Rhodes’ first-half touchdown and eight points from the boot of Owen Farrell gave the joint-Gallagher Premiership leaders first blood in Pool 3, leaving Glasgow ahead of what already appears to be a make-or-break trip to Cardiff next Sunday.

Lyon 21-30 Cardiff

Cardiff Blues marked their return to the Champions Cup after a four-season gap with only their fourth win in 21 games on French soil.

Lyon’s debut in the tournament got off to a flyer, taking a 10-0 lead as they sought revenge for their double defeat to the Blues as the Welsh side went all the way to win the Challenge Cup for the second time last season.