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Heineken Champions Cup: Toulouse make winning start, Leinster claim bonus point

European champions Toulouse overcame a battling performance from an inexperienced Cardiff team in their opening match; Leinster scored a bonus-point win at home to Bath; Ulster claimed a first-ever win in Clermont and Exeter humbled Montpellier in the evening games

Last Updated: 11/12/21 10:15pm

Leinster celebrate after Ronan Kelleher scores their sides sixth try against Bath

A round-up of the rest of Saturday’s European action, which included wins for reigning champions Toulouse, Leinster, Ulster and Exeter Chiefs…

Cardiff 7-39 Toulouse

Cardiff produced a battling display despite their ravaged playing resources in going down to a defeat against European champions Toulouse at the Arms Park.

The Heineken Champions Cup pool clash took place against a backdrop of more than 30 Cardiff players and a number of staff, including rugby director Dai Young, isolating until next week due to Covid-19 regulations.

Cardiff's Theo Cabango is tackled by Toulouse's Baptiste Germain

Cardiff’s Theo Cabango is tackled by Toulouse’s Baptiste Germain

Toulouse’s newly crowned world player of the year Antoine Dupont provided them with masterful direction. He scored one try and set up others for Anthony Jelonch, Pita Ahki and Arthur Bonneval, with Joe Tekori also touching down while Romain Ntamack kicked two penalties and four conversions.

Cardiff deserve considerable credit for even managing to fulfil the fixture amid such circumstances – and a crowd of just over 10,000 roared them on – with centre Josh Adams providing a highlight through his first-half try that Jason Tovey converted.

But they also had full-back Jacob Beetham sent off, who departed after 74 minutes following a dangerous shoulder-led tackle.

Leinster 45-20 Bath

Seven-try Leinster proved too strong for Gallagher Premiership strugglers Bath in a Champions Cup victory at the Aviva Stadium.

Josh van der Flier dives in to score for Leinster against Bath

Josh van der Flier dives in to score for Leinster against Bath

With six of Bath’s starters making their European debuts, a second-minute penalty from fly-half Orlando Bailey settled the early nerves.

But from then on, the 25,403 spectators were treated to a free-flowing first half, at the end of which Leinster led 31-13, with Bath’s late rally seeing Jacques Du Toit crash over from a well-worked line-out move.

The hosts had dominated up to that point, bagging their bonus point within 24 minutes as Jamison Gibson-Park (2), Tadhg Furlong, James Lowe and Hugo Keenan, with his first European try, all touched down.

Bath’s porous defence leaked two more tries – Ronan Kelleher and Josh Van Der Flier both crossing before replacement Gabriel Hamer-Webb replied with a late consolation score for Stuart Hooper’s young side.

Clermont-Auvergne 23-29 Ulster

Ulster got their Champions Cup campaign off to a strong start with an eye-catching victory over Clermont in France.

It was Ulster’s first-ever win at the Stade Marcel-Michelin, with Stuart McCloskey and Nick Timoney scoring their tries.

John Cooney kicked 19 points for the visitors as well, while Damian Penaud crossed for a brace of tries for Clermont and JJ Hanrahan contributed 13 points from the kicking tee.

The hosts were not helped by having Jacobus Van Todder and Cheikh Tiberghien sin-binned for a high tackle and deliberate knock-on respectively either side of half time.

However, Hanrahan’s late penalty ensured Clermont came away from the match with at least a losing bonus point.

Exeter Chiefs 42-6 Montpellier

Jonny Gray scored a hat-trick of close-range tries as Exeter got their Champions Cup campaign off to a winning start with victory over Montpellier at Sandy Park.

It was not a vintage performance from the 2020 champions, who started slowly against durable but limited opponents but eventually they raised their game with an excellent second-half performance to run out convincing winners.

Sam Simmonds goes over for a try during Exeter's win over Montpellier

Sam Simmonds goes over for a try during Exeter’s win over Montpellier

Stuart Hogg, Don Armand and Sam Simmonds also scored tries for Exeter, with Joe Simmonds converting all six. Louis Foursans scored Montpellier’s points with two early penalties.

The visitors, presently lying third in the Top 14, fielded a relatively strong side but they did not include their South African World Cup-winning half-backs Handre Pollard and Cobus Reinach in their 23.

France lock Paul Willemse was not involved either, but former Bath number eight Zach Mercer was named on the bench.




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