Ulster clinched a dramatic 15-13 victory over the Scarlets, while there were also wins for Leinster, the Ospreys, Glasgow and Treviso in the Pro14.
The Scarlets were the form team throughout the 2017-18 season and they were overwhelming favourites to beat Ulster in their first game of the new campaign. But the hosts, with Marcell Coetzee at blindside flank, had other ideas on the day as they rallied late in the game to produce an early-season upset.
Rhys Patchell had given the Scarlets a seven-point lead with a self-converted try in the sixth minute, but ill-discipline let them down as Ulster scrumhalf John Cooney slotted three penalties to give his side a 9-7 advantage heading into the break.
There were no further tries scored as the game became static in the second half. The Scarlets, though, had outscored Ulster two penalties to one to take a 13-12 lead heading into the last quarter of the match. But in the 80th minute, the Scarlets conceded a penalty and Cooney stepped up to convert the pressure kick into three match-winning points.
In other results, replacement hooker Bryan Byrne scored a late try and Ross Byrne kicked the conversion to help Leinster snatched a dramatic 33-32 win over the Cardiff Blues, wing George North scored two tries on debut to guide the Ospreys to a 17-13 victory against Edinburgh, Stuart Hogg’s 73rd-minute drop goal saw the Glasgow Warriors defeat Connacht 27-26, and lock Alessandro Zanni bagged a brace as Treviso edged the Dragons 21-17.
Round 1 results:
Zebre 32 Kings 16
Ospreys 17 Edinburgh 13
Cardiff Blues 32 Leinster 33
Connacht 26 Glasgow Warriors 27
Ulster 15 Scarlets 13
Munster 38 Cheetahs 0
Dragons 17 Treviso 21
Photo: Darren Kidd/INPHO