John Mulvihill urges Cardiff Blues to build on Lyon win

Cardiff Blues boss John Mulvihill has challenged his side to build on their victory over Lyon in Sunday's Champions Cup opener at Stade de Gerland, as they prepare to welcome Glasgow Warriors to the Welsh capital.

Tries from Tomos Williams, Olly Robinson and Gareth Anscombe helped Wales' capital region to make it nine wins from the last 10 fixtures against French opposition.

The head coach was proud of his side's effort at Stade de Gerland, but insists they must back it up at the Arms Park in order to continue their fight for a place in the knockout stages.

"It's a great result for us and hopefully it means we can pack out Cardiff Arms Park next Sunday when Glasgow visit because that's going to be another big game for us. Hopefully we can build on this win," said Mulvihill.

"We talked about our return to the Champions Cup a lot in the build-up to the game and it was a big focus for us. We want to do this competition proud.

"It means a lot to us to play against the best teams in Europe and this is a fantastic tournament. The physicality of the games is huge and we stood up to that.

"The whole coaching group, everyone who came to Lyon as part of the team, and the supporters are so proud of this team. They produced a fantastic performance

"We knew if we opened the game up and moved the ball around then we would have some success and we wanted to keep the ball away from the Lyon forwards. They have a great scrum and line-out."

Anscombe was named man of the match in the clash, after racking up 20-points including a stunning individual effort.

Meanwhile, Owen Lane was forced off the field in the final moments of the game, after pulling up during his attempts to stop Quentin Delord crossing.

Mulvihill was impressed with the individual performances in Lyon, and offered positive news on wing Lane.

The head coach said: "Owen's injury was more cramp than anything else.

"He is moving quite freely and we've got a few bumps and bruises. We're not training until Tuesday, but we'll be assessing some boys on Monday.

"I thought Gareth and Tomos were outstanding and they both produced big displays, but every single player can be proud of their performance.

"Jarrod Evans had his moments too in unleashing the backs outside him."

Photo credit: Cardiff Blues' official website

AJ MacGinty blow hits Sale Sharks

Sale Sharks have suffered a significant setback after USA fly-half AJ MacGinty was ruled out for 12 weeks following a shoulder operation.

MacGinty originally suffered the injury to his shoulder during the summer whilst playing for the Eagles. The Premiership outfit revealed they had attempted non-surgical rehabilitation but the process has been unsuccessful.

"AJ had an operation last week to avoid any further complications with his injury, His anticipated return will be in around 12 weeks time and the club sends its best wishes to him for a speedy and complete recovery," said Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond.

The news comes as a further blow to the Sharks after winger Marland Yarde was last week ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Tom Arscott hails Newcastle Falcons' team spirit

Newcastle Falcons wing Tom Arscott hailed his side's camaraderie after they claimed a dramatic Champions Cup victory over Toulon at Stade Mayol on Sunday.

Arscott said their team spirit was the vital ingredient following the 26-25 triumph, which was only the second time Toulon had tasted defeat at their home venue in the Champions Cup.

“It’s a great result for us," he told Newcastle Falcons' official website after the match.

“Obviously it has not been going the best for us in the Gallagher Premiership, so to come away from home in Europe and achieve a result like this is massive.

“There aren’t too many sides who come to Toulon and beat them on their own patch so it’s a huge result for us, but it’s only a start. We have to back it up now against Montpellier on Sunday at Kingston Park.”

Drilling down into a game which had a bit of everything, he added: “There’ll be a few people thinking this is an unexpected result but they won’t be in our changing room, because we always knew we were capable.

“There was a massive amount of togetherness out there, and I think that was the key.

“It might sound like a weird thing to say but you could really feel the team spirit on the field – especially in the last five minutes. Everyone dug in for each other, and ultimately that is what won us the game.

“Yeah, it’s a great result, but we’re already on with next weekend and focusing on Montpellier next Sunday.”

Newcastle Falcons are next in Champions Cup action on Sunday, October 21 when they host Montpellier.

Photo credit: Newcastle Falcons' official website

Lukhan Tui confirms absence from Wallabies tour

Wallabies back-row Lukhan Tui has confirmed he will prioritise family and not return from a break to play on Australia's end-of-year tour.

Tui stood down from Wallabies duty after the side's defeat to Argentina in September, after losing his stepfather in the week of the game.

The Reds flanker played the game in his stepfather's memory but his raw emotions were evident when Tui became embroiled in an ugly scuffle with an abusive fan post-match.

Tui informed the Wallabies he planned to take the rest of the year off to support his family, although coach Michael Cheika said the door was always open for him to change his mind and return to the squad for the upcoming tour of Japan and Europe.

However, Tui confirmed on Twitter over the weekend that he will not be returning and instead will stay in Australia to be with his number one priority - his family.

"I’ve always been & forever will be #FamilyOverEveything, hence the choices I’ve made," Tui tweeted.

“Stepping away from the game of rugby for the remainder of the year is a decision that is for my siblings and for my Mum. Rugby will always be there & at the end of the day it is only just a game.

“Because there’s honestly no atmosphere, experience, money or jersey that could ever separate me from doing what I love and that’s looking after my family.

“This is also to show my younger siblings that Family is truely (sic) above everything and setting an example for them to follow.

“This isn’t about putting myself last, it’s about putting them first which has always been the case. 1 month ago my family and I lost our Dad. He raised my siblings & I to be the people we are today and set the perfect example that we live by.

“He made my dream of playing rugby come true and taught me how to be a man and further to that a family man.

“This is something I’m humbled by and will forever be grateful for.

“I have a young family and I’m now the man of out home, I have self-expectations and a role to play that not many people can relate to or ever understand.

“My purpose in life has always been to make my family proud and to ensure that they are safe.

“Rugby is only a game and my family is everything to me.

“In saying that, I’ll be back next year to continue playing ruby for my Dad, Qld and hopefully for Australia again.

“Until then I will be contributing to helping finish what my dad started.


All Blacks name 51-man touring squad

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has announced a strong 51-player squad for the team's upcoming end-of-year tour to Japan and Europe.

Hansen has named a 32-man squad of players who will go to Yokohama where they will face the Wallabies in their third and final Bledisloe Cup Test on October 27.

After that match, 22 of the squad will go to London to prepare for their Test against England at Twickenham on November 11. 10 players from the 32-man squad will remain in Japan where they will be joined by a secondary squad of 19 players - who will travel after the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership and Championship finals - for a Test against the Brave Blossoms.

Hansen said: "This is a hugely exciting Northern Tour we’re about to embark on and one which we’re all looking forward to."

The key feature of the 32-man All Blacks squad is the selection of new All Black, 21-year-old Auckland loose forward Dalton Papalii, as well as the return of several senior All Blacks from injury.

Papalii gets his opportunity after an impressive Super Rugby season followed by a strong Mitre 10 Cup season. He comes in following injuries to Sam Cane (neck surgery) and the unavailability of Shannon Frizell and Tasman loose forward contender Jordan Taufua.

Loose forward Matt Todd has also been selected after being granted an exemption by the New Zealand Rugby (NZR). The board noted his significant long service to New Zealand Rugby and the fact he is contracted to return to New Zealand and the Crusaders in 2019.

"We thank the NZR Board and Panasonic for supporting the selection of Matt," said Hansen.

"It’s much appreciated."

Meanwhile, a number of All Blacks make eagerly-awaited returns from injury.

Hooker Dane Coles is back after missing most of the 2018 season and coming through his Mitre 10 Cup match on Friday. Props Nepo Laulala and Joe Moody also return to the national side after injury-hampered seasons, with both players also returning to Mitre 10 Cup action on the weekend, while lock Brodie Retallick and loose forward Liam Squire also return from recent injuries.

"We congratulate Dalton on being named in the 32-man squad for the Tour," added Hansen.

"He has played outstanding rugby this year and deserves his opportunity.

“We also congratulate those new All Blacks named in the wider squad for the Japan Test. All these players and their families can be proud of the hard work, commitment and dedication that has led to this point."

The seven new All Blacks in the wider squad are: Tasman prop Tyrel Lomax and fellow prop, Taranaki’s Reuben O’Neill, Hawke’s Bay loose forward Gareth Evans, North Harbour scrum-half Bryn Hall, Canterbury fly-half Brett Cameron, Wellington midfielder Matt Proctor and Canterbury wing George Bridge.

Also returning are three players who played non-Tests on last year’s Northern Tour: Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua, North Harbour loose forward Dillon Hunt, and Canterbury scrum-half Mitchell Drummond.

These players will be complemented by a core of recent Test players in forwards Liam Coltman, Tim Perry, Angus Ta’avao, Luke Romano, Luke Whitelock and Jackson Hemopo; and backs Nehe Milner-Skudder, David Havili and Ngani Laumape.

"Having the extra group come to Japan will allow us to send the bulk of our main squad to London early to acclimatise and prepare for what will be three big Test matches in the Northern Hemisphere, starting with England," explained Hansen.

"Bringing in the wider squad players also allows us to grow our player depth and will expose them to the international arena, which we think will be great for their development and, in turn, will benefit New Zealand Rugby in the long-term.

"We’ll also be using the Japanese leg of our Tour to road test a few things ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup, as we will be using the same hotels and training facilities while we are there. We’re also playing Australia and Japan at two of our Rugby World Cup venues.

"We’re also looking forward to experiencing the Japanese culture again and what it has to offer and catching up with our supporters up there."

The make-up of the 32-man All Blacks squad sees 18 forwards selected (three hookers, five props, four locks and six loose forwards) and 14 backs (three scrum-halves, three fly-halves, four midfielders and four outside backs) and has a total of 1,061 Test caps experience, an average of 33 Test caps per player and average age of 26.

There is also a wide spread of players from New Zealand’s rugby provinces in the squad, with 13 of the Mitre 10 Cup teams represented.

All Blacks 32-man squad:

Forwards: Dane Coles, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Vaea Fifita, Dalton Papalii, Kieran Read (c), Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Matt Todd

Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith

19 additional players:

Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Liam Coltman, Tyrel Lomax, Reuben O’Neill, Tim Perry, Angus Ta’avao, Luke Romano, Jackson Hemopo, Gareth Evans, Dillon Hunt, Luke Whitelock

Backs: Mitchell Drummond, Bryn Hall, Brett Cameron, Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, George Bridge, David Havili, Nehe Milner-Skudder

All Blacks 2018 end-of-year tour schedule:

Saturday, October 27: v Australia - Yokohama
Saturday, November 3: v Japan - Tokyo
Saturday, November 11: v England - London
Saturday, November 18: v Ireland - Dublin
Saturday, November 25: v Italy - Rome

Stingy Saracens keep Glasgow Warriors out

Saracens got their Champions Cup campaign off to a winning start with a 13-3 victory over Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun on Sunday.

All the points of the match were scored in the second half. Despite Glasgow growing more and more into the encounter as the game went on, they were unable to get past a solid Saracens outfit, who produced a brilliant defensive performance.

It took 10 minutes before the pace and width of Saracens' game began to wear Glasgow Warriors down. Michael Rhodes went over in the left-hand corner after a move that swept from left to right and back. Owen Farrell added the extras for the 7-0 lead.

Five minutes later, Warriors were pinged for offside and Farrell made no mistake with the easy penalty attempt after a quarter of an hour. Seven minutes later, Glasgow fly-half Adam Hastings responded with a penalty as this time Saracens were penalised for offside.

The hosts were beginning to gain more territory with a couple of incisive forays upfield but could not breach the Saracens' try-line. The visitors, meanwhile, were coming closer and closer to their second but for some heroic last-ditch defending by Glasgow.

However, it would remain 10-3 until the 38th minute before a silly bit of dissent by Ryan Wilson gifted Farrell the easy three as Saracens took a 13-3 lead into the interval as referee Mathieu Raynal brought to an end a rather fractious first-half.

Glasgow enjoyed the majority of the possession in the second half but were unable to breach a staunch Saracens' defensive line. In fact, it remained scoreless for the entire 40 minutes.

There was no time to stage a comeback, but Glasgow could have come away with the losing bonus-point. However, it was not to be as the visitors' defence stood firm, with Saracens closing out a comfortable 13-3 victory.

The scorers:

For Glasgow Warriors:
Pen: Hastings

For Saracens:
Try: Rhodes
Con: Farrell
Pens: Farrell 2

The teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Callum Gibbins (cc), 6 Ryan Wilson (cc), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Rob Harley, 3 D’Arcy Rae, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 George Horne, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Rory Hughes

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Mike Rhodes, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Liam Williams

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Alexandre Ruiz (France), Thomas Charabas (France)
Television match official: Philippe Bonhoure (France)

Newcastle Falcons stun Toulon at the Mayol

A weakened Newcastle Falcons did what only one other side has done in Europe’s top-tier competition and beat Toulon at the Stade Mayol, winning 26-25.

It was a remarkable performance from the visitors, who went into the interval ahead despite being 10-0 behind early on via Romain Taofifenua’s try and Francois Trinh-Duc’s three-pointer.

Joel Hodgson began the comeback from the tee before Kyle Cooper crossed the whitewash to level matters at the end of the opening quarter. Hodgson then added successive penalties for a six-point buffer but Raphael Lakafia’s effort reduced the deficit at the break.

A penalty try then extended the Falcons’ lead but Guilhem Guirado’s try and Trinh-Duc’s three-pointer took Patrice Collazo’s charges ahead.

They appeared set to scrape their way to an unconvincing triumph but Hodgson’s late effort off the tee won a dramatic encounter, leaving the Mayol stunned.

Dean Richards named a weakened side for this encounter but, despite an awful start, which saw Taofifenua charge down Michael Young’s attempted box-kick and score, the visitors, who are bottom of the Premiership, were exceptional from thereon in.

They did concede next when Trinh-Duc kicked a penalty but the Englishmen grew into the contest and reduced the arrears as Hodgson was on target from the tee.

The Falcons were playing some impressive rugby and were earning plenty of territory from an ill-disciplined Toulon side. Johnny Williams was physical in midfield and Sinoti Sinoti was his usual electric self, but the hard work was done up front and, after a series of phases inside the opposition 22, Cooper burrowed across the line.

Newcastle maintained their pressure on the hosts and Hodgson kicked them in front for the first time in the match.

With the French outfit conceding penalties regularly, it gave their fly-half another opportunity from the tee and he was in no mood to miss, bisecting the uprights for a 16-10 advantage after Jean-Baptiste Gros had been sin-binned.

Toulon were evidently frustrated but they responded well to being behind and scored when a rolling maul ended with Lakafia touching down.

It kept them in the contest going into the second period but the Tynesiders remained resilient and produced a brilliant move for Hodgson to go clear. He passed to wing Sinoti, who looked set to score until Daniel Ikpefan took him high, which led to a yellow card and penalty try.

Annoyed by that decision, with supporters and players arguing that there was obstruction in the build-up, they once again lifted the intensity and Guirado went over after Hodgson was sin-binned.

The Falcons were the team that were now making the mistakes and another infringement led to Trinh-Duc regaining the hosts’ lead.

However, the momentum changed once again when Richards’ men built pressure and it resulted in Julian Savea becoming the third Toulon player to be yellow carded.

With the home side down to 14 men, Newcastle put their opponents under further duress and Hodgson won the game from the tee with 10 minutes to go.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: R Taofifenua, Lakafia, Guirado
Cons: Trinh-Duc 2
Pens: Trinh-Duc 2
Yellow Cards: Gros, Ikpefan, Savea

For Newcastle:
Tries: Cooper, penalty try
Con: Hodgson
Pens: Hodgson 4
Yellow Card: Hodgson

The teams:

Toulon: 15 Daniel Ikpefan, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Anthony Belleau, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Raphael Lakafia (c), 7 Stephane Onambele, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Swan Rebbadj, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Jean-Baptiste Gros
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Sébastien Taofifenua, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Malakai Fekitoa, 21 Hugo Bonneval, 22 Anthony Meric, 23 Florent Vanverberghe

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young, 8 Nemani Nagusa, 7 Gary Graham, 6 Mark Wilson (c), 5 Glen Young, 4 Will Witty, 3 David Wilson, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Sami Mavinga
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Ryan Burrows, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Pedro Bettencourt

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Neil Patterson (Scotland)

Gloucester get the better of Castres

Gloucester returned to Champions Cup rugby after five years with a 19-14 victory over Castres at Kingsholm on Sunday afternoon.

Gloucester dominated the majority of the encounter but had to survive a late onslaught from the Top 14 side.

It was quite the contrast of styles from the outset with Gloucester intent on controlling possession, maintaining a high tempo and spreading the ball wide, while Castres were more prepared to go from one set-piece to another while playing around the fringes.

The home side dominated the early possession and went into the lead courtesy of Danny Cipriani penalty right in front with 10 minutes gone.

The hosts then dubiously had a try disallowed before Castres fly-half Julien Dumora restored parity on the scoreboard off the tee in the 16th minute.

Cherry and Whites pivot Cipriani was beginning to dictate matters with his little chip kicks behind the Castres defence beginning to cause havoc. Having gained the territorial ascendancy in this fashion, the hosts were being kept at bay by the Castres defence and came away with only three points for their endeavours to take a 6-3 lead after half-an-hour.

Castres hit back immediately with a cleverly-worked drop-goal from Dumora after a rare foray up field from the Top 14 side.

But soon afterwards, Gloucester had the first try of the game and deservedly so. After good work in the build-up from Charlie Sharples with a strong carry, Tom Marshall produced the moment of magic with a line break and final offload for Braley on his inside, who ran in under the posts. Cipriani converted for a 13-6 lead as the sides headed into the interval.

It was a more even battle for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but once again the Cherry and Whites took a more commanding grip on the game with another Cipriani penalty with 52 minutes gone.

The pressure was beginning to tell for Castres and it was a mystery as to how referee Marius Mitrea was not reaching for his pocket after another offside offence close to their own try-line gave Gloucester fly-half Cipriani an easy three-pointer for a 19-6 lead with 25 minutes to go.

However, two minutes later, the visitors were right back in it when Martin Laveau dotted down for a neat finish on the right-hand touchline after Woodward had erred by stepping out of the line too soon. Dumora would miss the conversion as it remained 19-11.

The visitors enjoyed the upper-hand throughout the encounter at scrum-time, while they were also winning more turnovers at the breakdown. This, however, only prevented Gloucester winning by a more comfortable advantage as they had the better in the territorial and possession stakes throughout.

Castres were rewarded for their dominance at the breakdown when Dumora made it a five-point deficit with the visitors right back in it with seven minutes to go.

But due to some brilliant defending on their own try-line and a couple of good turnovers, Gloucester managed to hold on for a precious 19-14 victory after a late scare from Castres side who grew more and more into the game.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Try: Braley
Con: Cipriani
Pens: Cipriani 4

For Castres:
Try: Laveau
Con: Dumora
Pens: Dumora 2

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Tom Marshall, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ben Morgan (c), 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Freddie Clarke, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Todd Gleave, 20 Matt Banahan, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Tom Hudson

Castres: 15 Armand Batlle, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Florian Vialelle, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Julien Dumora, 9 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Baptiste Delaporte, 6 Mathieu Babillot (c), 5 Loic Jacquet, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Paea Fa’anunu, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Tudor Stroe
Replacements: 16 Paul Sauzaret, 17 Tapu Falatea, 18 Wilfrid Hounkpatin, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Yannick Caballero, 21 Yohan Le Bourhis, 22 David Smith, 23 Rory Kockott

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Manuel Bottino (Italy), Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Television match official: Stefano Pennè (Italy)

Cam Clark commits to Waratahs

Utility back Cam Clark has signed a new deal with the Waratahs, as he commits to his third Super Rugby season with the Sydneysiders.

The 25-year-old has re-signed with the club as he continues to challenge for a regular spot in the match-day 23.

“That is one of the reasons I want to continue playing rugby in NSW (New South Wales). The environment creates healthy competition for positions, and it drives us to prove ourselves to the coaches and compete for those starting positions,” Clark said.

“I am enjoying being part of this group, love pulling on the sky blue jersey and I'm thankful for the opportunity to stay with a team I grew up supporting,” said Clark, who is also a proud Northern Suburbs club representative.

He made his debut for the State in 2017 and has earned 25 caps for NSW, including 23 Super Rugby matches.

“Personally I think I've grown a lot in the past two seasons here so I'm really focused on having a solid pre-season and play my part in our success in 2019.”

“This off-season is about recovering from niggling injuries and getting my body ready for pre-season and beyond. We have a great group of guys here who are determined to improve on our 2018 season and push for the Super Rugby title.”

Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson said Clark has demonstrated sheer determination in 2018.

“Cam has an outstanding work ethic and that was evident in how he battled back from a shoulder injury to play this year. His focus needs to be on taking his game to the next level. It is great to have him in the mix and give the coaches a few headaches come selection time,” Gibson said.

Freddie Burns backed by Todd Blackadder after errors

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder says that the club will “rally behind” Freddie Burns after he potentially cost them victory against Toulouse in the Champions Cup.

The West Countrymen were 22-20 in arrears going into the final 10 minutes but had two opportunities to move back in front.

Both of them were spurned by the full-back when he missed a penalty in front of the posts before the 28-year-old, more embarrassingly, dropped the ball over the line having already started to celebrate.

Burns has since apologised on Twitter and Blackadder insists that the former Gloucester man will come back ready to perform.

“Freddie will be hurting, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “Now’s probably the time to rally behind him and support him.

“What’s done is done, you can’t take that back but what happens next is probably really important.

“He’ll take it on the chin but, as a group, this is where you need to support. We backed Freddie to perform today and he just made an error.

“That’s where often the greatest learning happens. He’ll be back on the horse for next week, ready to go (against Wasps), I’ve no doubt about that.”

Blackadder also believes that Burns’ error is symptomatic of the team at the moment after Tom Homer did something similar in the opening Premiership game of the campaign.

He added: “We did it against Bristol as well. We’re lacking that ruthless edge when you nail those points.

“I thought when the ball hit the post (from the penalty), obviously we could have taken the lead there, but we fought our way back into a position where we could have scored again."

Challenge Cup wrap: Clermont thump Northampton

There were Challenge Cup wins for La Rochelle, Dragons, Benetton, Ospreys, Connacht, Bristol, Harlequins, Clermont and Worcester on Saturday.


Clermont were too good for Northampton Saints on Saturday as they dominated the Franklin's Gardens side, winning their pool opener 41-20.

Peter Betham (2), Peceli Yato (2), Rabah Slimani and Arthur Iturria crossed for the European giants, who mean business in this competition.

Dragons also got off to a victorious start in this group as they overcame Timisoara Saracens 54-17 at Dan Paltinisanu Stadium on Saturday.

Elliot Dee (2), Leon Brown, Dafydd Howells, Lewis Evans, a penalty try, Ollie Griffiths and Rhodri Davies provided the five-pointers while Josh Lewis kicked 12 points off the tee. Jack Umaga and Marius Simionescu were the Romanians' try-scorers as they crumbled after the break.


Ospreys got their pool campaign off to a perfect start as they picked up a bonus-point victory over Pau, winning 27-0 at Liberty Stadium.

James Hook, George North and Luke Morgan scored tries before Harri Morgan's late crossing secured the maximum over the French outfit.

This pool's other match saw Worcester Warriors beat Stade Francais 38-27 on the road thanks to scores from Matt Cox, Tom Howe (2), Ted Hill and Jamie Shillcock. Kylan Hamdaoui, Laurent Panis and Piet van Zyl crossed for Stade.


This pool's only game of the day saw Connacht claim a 22-10 win over Bordeaux-Begles to go one point behind Sale Sharks at the summit.

A brace from Australian Kyle Godwin and one try from Finlay Bealham sealed the four points for the Irish side in this Sportsground meeting.


Bristol Bears put last week's disappointing result in the Premiership to bed as they thumped Zebre 43-22 in their Challenge Cup opener.

Tries from Alapati Leiua, Ryan Edwards (2), Joe Latta, Nick Haining, Jake Armstong and Andy Uren saw them get five points on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, La Rochelle began their charge for Challenge Cup glory with an impressive 82-21 victory over Enisei-STM in Russia.

Crossings from Gregory Alldritt, Maxime Lafage, Hikairo Forbes, Paul Jordaan (2), Marc Andreu, Jean Victor Goillot (2), Romaric Camou, Pierre Aguillon (2) and Ihaia West saw them to a bonus-point win, with Lafage kicking 20 points off the tee and West two.


Benetton Rugby impressed as they got off and running with a 40-14 triumph over Grenoble in their pool opener at Stadio Comunale di Monigo.

Jayden Hayward, Federico Ruzza, Tommaso Allan (2), Epalahame Faiva and Juan Ignacio Brex crossed for the Italian outfit, with Duncan Casey and Halani Aulika scoring five-pointers for the visitors.

In the other game in this pool, Harlequins secured a 54-22 win over Agen as they scored eight tries in front of the Twickenham Stoop faithful.

Mike Brown, Charlie Mulchrone, Semi Kunatani (2), Nathan Earle, George Merrick, a penalty try and Joe Marchant provided their five-pointers.

Racing 92 claim smash and grab victory over Scarlets

Racing 92 claimed a smash and grab 14-13 come-from-behind victory over the Scarlets in Champions Cup action at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

Racing 92 bossed the first-half, enjoying 64 percent territory and 60 percent possession, but it was actually Scarlets who led for 29 minutes of the first stanza after Leigh Halfpenny's 10th minute penalty.

Scarlets were having to make twice the number of tackles as their opponents with a tackle efficiency of 84 percent compared to their opponents' 95, while Racing made double the amount of metres as Scarlets.

And just when it looked as if Scarlets may hold on until the half-time whistle, Racing scrum-half Xavier Chauveau dummied and offloaded for Baptiste Chouzenoux, who had run an excellent support line to dot down. Fly-half Finn Russell gave the visitors a 7-3 lead going into the interval.

But 12 minutes into the second-half, the Scarlets began to turn the screw at the scrum and scrum-half Gareth Davies produced a moment of magic with a brilliant blindside sniping break from the back of the set-piece to dot down for an 8-7 lead.

Five minutes later, Scarlets had their second and it was a superb team try. The initial break and offload from Hadleigh Parkes got it all started before Jonathan Davies' excellent grubber kick was well finished by Johnny McNicholl. However, once again Scarlets fly-half Angus O'Brien failed to convert his second successive conversion which meant it was still just a six-point lead.

Having kept themselves in the game up until four minutes to go, a line-out drive ensured Racing would sneak it as they were awarded the penalty try while scrum-half Davies was yellow-carded for bringing down the maul.

And so the away side would hold on for somewhat of a smash and grab 14-13 victory when it looked for all money that Scarlets' second-half turnaround would open their Champions Cup account with a win.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Tries: Davies, McNicholl
Pen: Halfpenny

For Racing 92:
Tries: Chouzenoux, Penalty Try
Con: Russell

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Ed Kennedy, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Tom Price, 20 Joshua Macleod, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Paul Asquith

Racing 92: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Olivier Klemenczak, 12 Henry Chavancy (c), 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Xavier Chauveau, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Guram Gogichashvili
Replacements: 16 Teddy Baubigny, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Census Johnston, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Boris Palu, 21 Teddy Iribaren, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Virimi Vakatawa

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Jonathan Healy (England)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)

Solid start from Ulster

Ulster kicked off their Champions Cup campaign with a hard-fought 24-10 victory over Leicester Tigers in their clash at Kingspan Stadium.

Crossings from Alan O'Connor, Will Addison and Jacob Stockdale sealed an opening pool win, with John Cooney adding nine points off the tee.

Leicester headed into the interval leading by a slender three-point margin in a low-scoring half of rugby, which ended 3-0 in tough conditions.

George Ford fired over that penalty in the 15th minute after Tigers had weathered an early sustained period of pressure from the home side.

The England fly-half however would soon find himself heading to the sin-bin after making a high tackle on Ulster full-back Michael Lowry. Fortunately for Ford his absence did not yield any points against his side, as it remained 3-0 to Leicester when he returned on 32 minutes.

In fact the scoreline would not be altered before half-time, despite an Ulster surge on 35 minutes and then Ford's charged down drop-goal.

Things improved and quickly in the second period for Ulster when lock O'Connor finished well from close range after a line-out move. That was converted by Cooney and one minute later they thought they had scored again, but Iain Henderson's try was denied due to a forward pass.

Leicester, 7-3 down, went in search of a response and on 51 minutes they had a chance five metres out until a crooked line-out foiled them.

Ulster however made no such mistake as just before the hour mark centre Addison ran hard and straight and with Cooney's extras it was 14-3.

Cooney made it 17-3 with 11 minutes left before a wonderful pass from McCloskey sent Stockdale over to leave Ulster needing one more try for the bonus point.

But it was Leicester who would have the final say, Manu Tuilagi sliding over in the wet for a morale-boosting score, with the game ending in entertaining fashion.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Tries: O'Connor, Addison, Stockdale
Cons: Cooney 3
Pen: Cooney

For Leicester:
Try: Tuilagi
Con: Ford
Pen: Ford

Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Will Addison, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Alan O'Connor, 3 Ross Kane, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Andrew Warwick
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Eric O'Sullivan, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Angus Curtis, 23 Angus Kernohan

Leicester Tigers: 15 Jonah Holmes, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Guy Thompson, 5 Harry Wells, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Greg Bateman
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 David Fe'ao, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Sam Lewis, 20 Tommy Reffell, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Gareth Owen

Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
Television match official: Eric Gauzins (France)

Exeter and Munster open with stalemate

Exeter and Munster opened their respective Champions Cup campaigns playing to a 10-10 stalemate at Sandy Park on Saturday afternoon.

It was a brutal game, with the step up to European rugby leaving the players gasping for breath as fatigue set in. The extremely windy conditions forced plenty of errors with both sides' finishing poor. But although it was a low-scoring encounter, it was still a thrilling one.

Despite being the team playing in to the wind in the first-half, Munster were setting the tempo in the opening twenty minutes and made eighty metres upfield with a penalty at the scrum and the lineout. But it came to nothing as a simple turnover - the kick and chase aided by the mighty gusts meant all their good work was undone in a single moment.

However, the pressure of the wind began to toll and Munster were beginning to give away too many penalties. Exeter Chiefs captain Gareth Steenson slotted between the posts for a slender lead after Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony was penalised for going off his feet at the breakdown.

Exeter were buoyed by the confidence of the wind behind their backs and were forced in to some heroic defending as Munster took the ball through over 25 phases before winning the penalty. Opting for the scrum, the visitors made further ground before winning another penalty as Joey Carbery restored parity on the scoreboard with a penalty right in front.

But Exeter hit back, winning a penalty at scrum-time. Their forwards kept the ball in hand and drove several times for the line before Luke Cowan-Dickie powered his way over. Steenson added the extras on the stroke of half-time as the hosts headed in to the interval with a 10-3 lead.

Exeter found themselves trapped inside their own half for the majority of the second stanza due to the fact that it was now them playing in to the wind. However, some staunch defending meant they would not concede any points for the opening quarter of the second half.

With so much territory and possession, Munster finally broke the resistance in the 64th minute. The fresh-legged Tommy O'Donnell had made the initial mini-break, before skipper O'Mahony burrowed over from close range. Carbery's calm conversion levelled matters at 10-10 apiece, with all the momentum with the away side at this stage.

However with less than a minute to go, Carbery would kick the ball over the dead-ball line, gifting Exeter a scrum penalty 22 metres out. The hosts would take the ball through twenty long phases and found themselves bearing down on the Munster try-line only to knock on a couple of inches out.

It may have been cruel ending to the game for Exeter but in a game of two halves, overall the 10-10 draw was a fair reflection of the game.

The scorers:

For Exeter Chiefs:
Try: Cowan-Dickie
Con: Steenson
Pen: Steenson

For Munster:
Try: O'Mahony
Con: Carbery
Pen: Carbery

The teams:

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Stuart Townsend, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Dave Dennis, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Sam Hill

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 James Cronin, 18 John Ryan, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tommy O’Donnell, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Sammy Arnold

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre (France), Jonathan Dufort (France)
Television match official: Éric Briquet-Campin (France)

WP thrash Blue Bulls in abandoned match

Western Province won their sixth Currie Cup match in a row thanks to a deserved 34-7 victory over the Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

The match was played in dreadful weather conditions with heavy rain and lightning resulting in the fixture being abandoned at half-time. WP were declared the winners, however, as the competition's rules states that the side who are leading after 40 minutes, when a match is called off due to bad weather, wins the game.

The result means WP finish at the top of the Currie Cup standings and will host the Blue Bulls in their semi-final at Newlands next weekend while the Sharks and Golden Lions meet in the other play-off in Durban.

The men from the Cape were in a dominant mood and outscored the home side four tries to one with SP Marais contributing 12 points via two penalties and three conversions.

Province made an impressive start and took a 3-0 lead when Marais slotted a penalty in the seventh minute after the home side's pack were blown up for illegal scrummaging.

WP continued to dominate the scrums and after several indiscretions at the set-piece, close to their tryline, the home side suffered a setback in the 15th minute when their loosehead prop, Matthys Basson, was eventually yellow carded.

At the very next scrum, WP's forwards shoved their counterparts off the ball and referee Egon Seconds was left with no choice but to award a penalty try to the visitors.

The Bulls continued to infringe and another indiscretion at a scrum was punished by Marais, who slotted his second penalty in the 18th minute which gave his side a 13-0 lead.

Despite their poor start, the Bulls were soon camped inside WP's 22 and after taking the ball through several phases, Ruan Steenkamp opened their account when he barged over from close range.

WP struck back on the half-hour mark, however, when their pack put huge pressure on their counterparts at a scrum on the Bulls' five-metre line and when the home side lost control of the ball at the set-piece, Kobus van Dyk gathered it before diving over the whitewash.

Three minutes later, Herschel Jantjies booted the ball upfield before Tinus de Beer failed to gather it behind the home side's tryline and Sergeal Petersen pounced on his error by diving on the ball for his side's third try.

And just before half-time, the visitors secured their try-scoring bonus-point when Jaco Coetzee burst through the middle of a lineout drive deep inside the Bulls' 22 before diving over.

Marais added the extras which was the final act of the game as the officials decided to call off the game as heavy rain continued to pelt down on the waterlogged pitch.

The scorers:

For Blue Bulls:
Try: Steenkamp
Con: De Beer
Yellow Card: Basson

For Western Province:
Tries: Penalty try, Van Dyk, Petersen, Coetzee
Cons: Marais 3
Pens: Marais 2

Blue Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Nic de Jager, 20 Embrose Papier, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Dylan Sage

Western Province: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 SP Marais, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 JJ Engelbrecht

Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, Eduan Nel
Television match official: Lesego Legoete

Seven-try Sharks put Griquas to the sword

The Sharks booked a home semi-final in this year's Currie Cup when they registered a 41-11 victory over Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.

As the scoreline suggests, the Sharks were in control of proceedings for long periods and they eventually outscored their hosts by seven tries to one with Lwazi Mvovo and Leolin Zas both bagging a brace.

Griquas made the brighter start and opened the scoring courtesy of a George Whitehead penalty in the third minute but the Sharks struck back shortly afterwards when Jeremy Ward cantered in for an easy try, after the visitors were camped inside Griquas' 22.

The Durban-based outfit continued to dominate and in the 15th minute Mvovo gathered a long pass from Robert du Preez before rounding two defenders on his way over the try-line.

Griquas battled to contain the Sharks' onslaught but narrowed the gap to four points in the 26th minute when Whitehead slotted another penalty.

However, the Sharks finished the half stronger and three minutes later they went on the drive from a lineout, close to Griquas' try-line. The home side did well to halt the maul's momentum but from the resulting ruck Akker van der Merwe barged over the whitewash with two defenders on his back.

After failing to convert the first two tries, Curwin Bosch added the extras which gave the Sharks a 17-6 lead.

And two minutes before half-time, Mvovo found himself in space out wide again and he had an easy run-in for his second try which Bosch also converted to give the Sharks a 24-6 lead at the interval.

Five minutes into the second-half, the visitors went further ahead when Van der Merwe got a pass out to Zas, who shrugged off a challenge from AJ Coertzen before dotting down.

And the visitors pulled further ahead in the 50th minute when Aphelele Fassi offloaded to Sbu Nkosi, who outsprinted the cover defence before crossing for his side's sixth try.

The Sharks continued to attack from all areas of the field and in the 63rd minute Zas went over for his second try after good work from Bosch in the build-up.

Despite having the game in the bag, the Sharks pressed on in the game's closing stages although Griquas were rewarded when Kyle Steyn scored a consolation try in the 77th minute.

The scorers:

For Griquas:
Try: Steyn
Pens: Whitehead 2

For Sharks:
Tries: Ward, Mvovo 2, Van der Merwe, Zas 2, Nkosi
Cons: Bosch 3

Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Kyle Steyn (c), 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Conway Pretorius, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuuren, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Khwezi Mkhafu, 1 Devon Matinus
Replacements: 16 Liam Hendricks, 17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 18 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 19 Eital Bredenkamp, 20 Louis Venter, 21 Stephan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Edwin Sass

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Robert du Preez, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder (c), 8 Tyler Paul, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 JJ van der Mescht, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Grant Williams, 21 Marius Louw, 22 Leolin Zas

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Jaco Kotze
Television match official: Lourens van der Merwe

Dai Young dismayed by Wasps' performance

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young was left dismayed by his side's performance in the 52-3 thumping at the hands of Leinster on Friday night.

Young's side were put to the sword by the defending champions - who enjoyed 71 percent possession and 75 percent territory in the Champions League opener played at RDS Arena.

The Wasps mentor lamented his side's inability to keep possession of the ball as well as their performance in the last twenty minutes.

“I was disappointed with the way we fell away in the last 20 minutes but I can understand why we did," said Young.

"Our biggest issue tonight was obviously possession, when we had opportunities to keep hold of the ball, we just kept on turning it over.

"You play against a team like Leinster, you keep turning the ball over, you keep giving them opportunities to attack you, at some point, you’re going to run out of juice.

“They’re too good a team to think you can defend against them for long periods.

“At some point, the dam was going to burst and certainly in the last 20 minutes proved to be the case.

"The sin bin obviously cost us dearly, they scored just before halftime and pretty much just after halftime which got them away from us. From then, it was a case of damage limitation in the last 20-25 minutes.”

However, Young was realistic in his reflection, admitting that he felt not many teams would have been able to come away with anything from a trip to face a side he summed up as 'pretty much the Irish team.'

“You spend a lot of time analysing and looking for weaknesses and there’s not too many, pretty much.

"It’s pretty much the Irish team isn’t it really? And they haven’t done too bad of late have they really? You know it’s a hard day at the office and if you’re anything less than perfect, this is the type of team that can cause you problems," said Young.

“They were good tonight, no different to what we expected but I’m a little bit disappointed with how we were with the ball because people talk about our attack being really good but we really feel that our attack at the minute is causing our defence so much problems by not keeping hold of the ball, ball retention is shocking.”

Young will be looking for a much improved performance from his charges when they host Bath at the Ricoh Arena next Saturday in the second of their Champions Cup Pool 1 encounters.

Toulouse edge Bath after Freddie Burns' errors

Bath’s Freddie Burns gifted Toulouse victory in the Champions Cup after the four-time champions secured a narrow 22-20 triumph at the Rec.

The West Countrymen were two points in arrears going into the latter stages, but the hosts appeared set to win when Burns strolled over the line, only for the full-back to have the ball knocked out of his hand when already celebrating.

Todd Blackadder’s men had enjoyed a positive first half-hour, going 17-7 in front via Jamie Roberts and Burns tries, but Les Rouge et Noir kept themselves in the contest at the break.

Sofiane Guitoune crossed the whitewash, to go with Maxime Medard’s earlier effort, as they gave themselves hope heading into the final 40 minutes.

Burns and Thomas Ramos traded penalties at the start of the second period, but Guitoune took Toulouse in front with 18 minutes remaining.

Bath then had several opportunities to win the game but Burns missed a late kick – his third of the contest – before the full-back’s embarrassing moment cost his side at the end.

The West Countrymen have struggled to make an impact in Europe’s top-tier competition over recent times and they will rue this missed opportunity.

They opened the scoring through Burns but Les Rouge et Noir hit back after the full-back was turned over at the breakdown. There was plenty of space on the left and the visitors eventually took advantage when good hands sent Medard across the whitewash.

Unperturbed, the hosts upped the intensity and started to go slightly more direct. Dave Attwood provided the thrust and, with the opposition defence in reverse, Roberts took a neat line to score.

Bath were now very much in the ascendency and touched down for the second time when Jackson Willison and Henry Thomas combined. The ball was shifted wide and Burns brilliantly shrugged off the attentions of two tacklers to finish.

Cheslin Kolbe was one of those who failed to stop the full-back, but the recently capped South African international gained his revenge by creating Guitoune’s try after stepping inside two defenders and passing to the centre.

That meant Toulouse went into the interval just five points in arrears but they were dealt a blow following Jerome Kaino’s yellow card for a high tackle.

Ugo Mola’s men handled the sin-bin period well, however, despite the West Countrymen managing to extend their advantage through another Burns three-pointer.

They were duly rewarded for their efforts during Kaino’s time off the field when Tom Ellis was also yellow carded for dangerously sending Rynhardt Elstadt beyond the horizontal.

Unlike Bath, who failed to benefit from the opposition being down to 14, the visitors scored 10 points while Ellis was absent. Ramos initially reduced the arrears from the tee before the French outfit moved ahead through Guitoune’s well-taken try.

Confidence was high in the Toulouse ranks but they bizarrely looked to move the ball from deep and it invited pressure.

It meant Blackadder’s charges could go in search of the winning points and the hosts thought they had it, but Burns’ mistakes meant they had to settle for just a losing bonus-point.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Tries: Roberts, Burns
Cons: Burns 2
Pens: Burns 2
Yellow Card: Ellis

For Toulouse:
Tries: Medard, Guitoune 2
Cons: Ramos 2
Pen: Ramos
Yellow Card: Kaino

Bath: 15 Freddie Burns, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Darren Atkins, 10 Rhys Priestland (c), 9 Chris Cook, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Sam Underhill, 21 Max Green, 22 Max Wright, 23 Tom Homer

Toulouse: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Maxime Médard, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Francois Cros (c), 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Florian Verhaeghe, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Lucas Pointud
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Clément Castets, 18 Maks Van Dyk, 19 Pierre Gayraud, 20 Selevasio Tolofua, 21 Louis Madaule, 22 Antoine Dupont, 23 Romain Ntamack

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Montpellier overcome valiant Edinburgh

Montpellier started their Champions Cup campaign with a narrow and unconvincing 21-15 triumph over a gallant Edinburgh at the GGL Stadium.

Vern Cotter’s charges controlled much of the opening period and deserved the 21-10 lead given to them by Henry Immelman, Benjamin Fall and Gabriel Ngandebe tries.

The Scots responded via Stuart McInally’s score and Simon Hickey’s penalty before Dougie Fife reduced the deficit to six points going into the latter stages.

Edinburgh were the better side in the final quarter but they could not fashion the chance that would win them the match as Montpellier held on.

Despite impressing domestically last season, the Frenchmen struggled in Europe and were ousted at the group stage, but they opened this encounter determined to right those wrongs.

Cotter’s men started on the front foot with Ruan Pienaar, in the unfamiliar position of fly-half, directing operations well. The former South African international spotted space in the opposition defence, drew the would-be tackler and sent Immelman over the line.

To the visitors’ credit, they responded excellently and created a superb try. It was instigated by a wonderful Viliame Mata off-load before Henry Pyrgos went surging towards the line. Although the scrum-half was hauled down, McInally was on hand to pick up and touch down from close range to level matters.

Richard Cockerill’s team were playing some good rugby but they were to be undone by two errors. The first came in defence as a couple of missed tackles allowed Fall to go scampering down the right to score before a turnover meant Montpellier could attack once more.

Excellent pace and hands from Nico Janse van Rensburg got the hosts towards the 22 and Pienaar’s cross-field kick was collected and finished by Ngandebe. That gave the home side a comfortable lead at the break, despite Hickey reducing the arrears at the break from the tee.

However, Cockerill’s side began the second period in the ascendency and, under pressure, the Top 14 outfit infringed one too many times, which led to a yellow card for Bismarck du Plessis.

Although Edinburgh were initially unable to take advantage, just before Du Plessis returned they managed to give themselves hope when Mata powered through a tackle and off-loaded for Fife to score.

Montpellier were now struggling for continuity and the visitors pressed in the final 10 minutes for the winning try, but the Frenchmen managed to hold out and secure a crucial victory.

The scorers:

For Montpellier:
Tries: Immelman, Fall, Ngandebe
Cons: Pienaar 3
Yellow Card: B Du Plessis

For Edinburgh:
Tries: McInally, Fife
Con: Hickey
Pen: Hickey

Montpellier: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Benjamin Fall, 13 Vincent Martin, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Gabriel Ngandebe, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Enzo Sanga, 8 Louis Picamoles (c), 7 Wiaan Liebenberg, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Vincent Giudicelli, 17 Grégory Fichten, 18 Antoine Guillamon, 19 Kevin Kornath, 20 Kelian Galletier, 21 Julien Tomas, 22 Yvan Reilhac, 23 Alexandre Dumoulin

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Dougie Fife, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally (c), 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Luke Hamilton, 20 Jamie Ritchie, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Chris Dean

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew O’Grady (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

'Leinster won't get carried away' - Leo Cullen

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said his side will not get carried away after they claimed an emphatic 52-3 win over Wasps in Friday's Champions Cup opener in Dublin.

The defending champions were in superb form and outscored the Premiership outfit by eight tries none, after holding a 14-3 lead at half-time.

But despite turning on the style in the second half, which they won 38-0, Cullen is not reading too much into his side's performance.

"We just need to be careful that we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves," he said after the match.

"We’ve played one game and no one else has played yet in Europe. There’s a lot of very good teams in Europe at the moment.

"Sometimes in Europe, you only need to be a little bit off and you come unstuck. Sometimes then the score can get out of control.

"We know that ourselves because we got beaten by Wasps 51-10 in the Ricoh a number of years ago and we got pretty heavily beaten here as well. It can be a little bit misleading at times."

Cullen praised his charges for their clinical performance but feels there were some crucial moments in the match which helped their cause.

"We talked a lot in the past about every point counting," he said.

"It was good to keep playing until the very end. Big moments obviously just on half-time, when they lose a player (Lima Sopoaga) to the bin and we go on to score just before half-time (Luke McGrath’s first try).

"Then score two minutes into the second half (through James Lowe).

“We managed to hold onto the ball a bit better than we probably did last week against Munster.

"We coughed up a lot of ball (against Munster) and had very little possession. It was nice to be on the other side of the possession stats."