Week one of the Heineken Champions Cup gifted some big scores, big shocks and some old fashioned thumpings. A huge weekend of rugby is over, and Robert Rees gives you your 2018/19 Champions Cup round one summary
Pool One Standings
- Leinster – 5 points
- Toulouse – 4 points
- Bath – 1 point
- Wasps – 0 points
Leinster 52 Wasps 3
Champions Cup rugby kicked off with a bang. Leinster’s absolute destruction of Wasps, aided by a Lima Sopoaga yellow card, was all too embarrassing for the visitors. Leinster carried on last year’s good form as they looked both ruthless and flawless with ball in hand and in defence.
Tommy Taylor and Thomas Young had some very respectable figures despite the drubbing, but Wasps lacked a physical edge going forward and very rarely showed any team cohesion that will be needed to get out the group stages from here.
Bath 20 Toulouse 22
A game that Freddie Burns will want to forget for the rest of his days. A late missed penalty and then getting the ball knocked out of his hands whilst over the goal-line will be the major talking point from, what was an otherwise, an entertaining match.
Toulouse brought a physical edge that dominated in spells but Bath fought back with tries of their own. Jamie Roberts scoring on his return, although unfortunately his day was ended early by a Jerome Kaino hit.
Bath will feel disgusted with the manner that they lost the game and will want to put things right from here.
Pool Two Standings
- Gloucester 4 points
- Exeter – 2 points
- Munster – 2 points
- Castres – 1 point
Exeter 10 Munster 10
In a real hard fought battle between two physical and in-form teams and with some horrendous winds to deal with, they came out with a share of the spoils. A CJ Stander try cancelled out an earlier Luke Cowan-Dickie score as both teams looked at their forwards to give them the platform to go out and win them the game.
Exeter went in at the break looking on top. Leading by seven it would take a big swing once Joey Carbery got his team rumbling and Stander crossed over the line. Munster went on the attack in the latter stages but the Chiefs held strong and locked out for the draw.
Gloucester 19 Castres 14
Gloucester recorded their first top flight European win for five years with a dogged victory over reigning French champions Castres. Gloucester dominated the early going and were very unlucky to have a try disallowed for Tom Marshall. Another Danny Cipriani star performance enabled them to fight through this frustration and bag a try through Callum Braley.
The second half was much more error strewn and Castres grew into the game more with the broken play suiting their big bulky pack. Castres drew back with a try of their own before having one last pop at the Gloucester line. It wasn’t to be and the Cherry and Whites held on for the win.
Pool Three Standings
- Saracens – 4 points
- Cardiff Blues – 4 points
- Lyon – 0 points
- Glasgow – 0 points
Lyon 21 Cardiff Blues 30
A thrilling game in Lyon saw the visitors pick up a vital away victory upon their return to Champions Cup rugby. A dominant Lyon scrum wasn’t able to hold back the visitors who destroyed the breakdown and worked hard in the loose. Gareth Anscombe was once again fantastic as he bids to start for Wales this autumn scoring a wonderful solo effort.
Despite a late Lyon fightback the Blues held out strong and finished the game with a penalty to keep Lyon out of bonus point reach.
Glasgow 3 Saracens 13
Saracens crawled through the game in a non-vintage fashion to kickstart their campaign with a win. A Mike Rhodes try was the only one in the match as Owen Farrell kicked his side home. His opposite number Adam Hastings had a less fortuitous match. Missing an easy penalty early on as well as missing a touch finder just after Rhodes’ try.
No points were scored in the second half as both sides did a lot of attacking but were found wanting when it came to penetrating the defence. Glasgow will rue their lack of a clinical edge as they couldn’t turn territory into points.
Pool Four Standings
- Ulster – 4 points
- Racing – 4 points
- Scarlets – 1 point
- Leicester Tigers – 0 points
Ulster 24 Leicester Tigers 10
Three second half tries secured a fifth straight home win over Leicester for the Ulstermen. Fresh from their disappointing defeat at the hands of Connacht they were keen to prove a point and dominated their English counterparts. Former Gloucester fly half Billy Burns was vital in the second half turnaround upon his return to the field after a brief injury took him out of the game.
George Ford’s penalty had the Tigers leading at the break but they couldn’t hold out against the heavy Ulster pressure.
Scarlets 13 Racing 14
A late penalty try for Racing ultimately proved decisive after Gareth Davies was deemed to have brought down the maul as it trundled towards the line. Racing took control of the first half and they applied huge pressure on Angus O’Brien who struggled as a result. A quick defensive line and poor weather conditions made the game ugly.
Leigh Halfpenny wasn’t fully on song and a missed kick proved costly with Racing winning by a point. The Scarlets came out the second half the better team grabbing a brace of tries through Gareth Davies and Johnny McNicholl. It wasn’t to be enough as last years runners up took the victory.
Pool Five Standings
- Montpellier – 4 points
- Newcastle Falcons – 4 points
- Toulon – 1 point
- Edinburgh – 1 point
Montpellier 21 Edinburgh 15
Montpellier narrowly avoided a big upset at home to Edinburgh as a late fightback from the visitors proved too little too late. Ruan Pienaar was immaculate from the tee and Louis Picamoles was a pillar in both their attack and defence. Montpellier shut off in the second half and Edinburgh seized their chance. Bagging two tries to get them back in the game and lead but they couldn’t quite hold out as Montpellier launched one final attack.
One of the pre-tournament favourites, Montpellier will be feeling very lucky to be coming away from week one unscathed. It won’t install any fear in sides travelling to them in the next few rounds.
Toulon 25 Newcastle Falcons 26
In the biggest shock of the weekend Toulon were overhauled at home by the Newcastle Falcons. For only the second time in the competition Toulon were beaten at home, the only other time beating at the hands of Saracens. Toulon’s ill discipline hurt them throughout the game despite an early charge down try.
Hodgson’s ever reliable boot keeping the Falcons in it till the end. The guts shown then to go on and defend like an army protecting their position was quite remarkable. The nerve of a relatively inexperienced Newcastle team at this level to play some great forward rugby to enable them to be in positions to convert possession into points was excellent.
Expect Toulon to bounce though, back as they look for for their first win in the second round.
Champions Cup action returns next weekend, and LWOR’s staff will bring you further analysis and opinion over the long, 2018/19 season.
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