SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the opening round of the 2019-2020 European Challenge Cup matches.
– The Worcester Warriors made an excellent start to their campaign, scoring nine tries to thrash Russian side Enisei-STM 57-14 in Krasnodar.
South African duo Dean Hammond (wing) and Richard Palframan (prop) started for the winners with the latter crashing over for try. The Warriors led 31-0 at the break before outscoring their hosts four tries to two in the second period.
The bonus-point triumph puts the Warriors top of the table in this pool.
– The Dragons clinched a 31-17 home win over French side Castres. In an action-packed first half, the hosts secured the bonus-point by running in four tries for a 28-10 advantage at the interval. The second half was a subdued affair, as neither side was able to get any real momentum.
– Toulon got the better of Bayonne in their all-French encounter as they clinched a 20-13 win on the road.
Springbok prop Marcel van der Merwe was the top performer for the winning side, barging over for two crucial tries in the space of four minutes to set-up the win.
– In the other match in this pool, Uzair Cassiem produced a superb performance as the Scarlets held on to beat London Irish 20-16. In a tense contest, the teams were deadlocked at 13-13 at half-time, but the hosts went over for an unanswered try to claim victory.
– Edinburgh hammered French minnows Agen 31-10. The vistors bagged three first half scores to lead 21-3 before adding 10 points after the break to seal the win.
– Bordeaux outlasted Wasps in a riveting clash to clinch a 40-30 win at home. The French team dominated the first half, but Wasps fought back valiantly to make it a decent contest. In the end, though, the visiting team fell just short of completing a comeback.
– Stade Français’ struggles continued as they slumped to an agonising 27-11 defeat against French rivals Brive. This result comes days after the club sacked coach Heyneke Meyer, who had reportedly battled to maintain authority in the dressing room and particularly certain players.
– The Bristol Bears made a flying start as they demolished Zebre 59-21 at Ashton Gate Stadium. The win takes the English club to the top of the pool log.
– The Cardiff Blues were too strong for Calvisano on their way to securing a 38-16 victory. They held a slender seven-point lead at the break, but seized the ascendancy in the second stanza.
– Four tries from Welsh winger Jonah Holmes propelled Leicester Tigers to a 41-20 victory over Pau at Welford Road in their first ever European Rugby Challenge Cup encounter. The result was still not enough to see the Tigers usurp the Blues at the summit of the log.