The Newcastle Falcons beat Toulon 26-25 in Toulon, while there were also European Champions Cup wins for Saracens, the Cardiff Blues and Gloucester.
On their return to Europe after a 13-year absence, Newcastle wrote their own bit of history by becoming just the second team in Europe to beat Toulon at the Stade Moyal.
The win was all the more impressive as the visitors were 10-0 down in the opening seven minutes after Toulon scored a charge-down try virtually from the kickoff and extended their lead through a penalty from flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc.
At that stage, the home side looked set to cruise to an easy victory, but Newcastle got themselves back into the game when, after a penalty from Joel Hodgson, hooker Kyle Cooper forced his way over under the posts just before the first quarter mark.
Hodgson then kicked a further two penalties to give the Falcons a shock lead which was reduced when Raphael Lakafia scored, but Trinh-Duc missed his penalty which allowed the visitors go into the break one point ahead.
Newcastle came out strongly in the second half and enforced a penalty try when wing Sinoti Sinoti was high tackled near the line, but Hodgson was then yellow-carded and Toulon took full advantage as Guilhem Guirado forced his way over for a converted try.
A dramatic final quarter ensued as Trinh-Duc hit the post with a drop-goal attempt but made up for it with a successful penalty, which put Toulon ahead. Toulon wing Julian Savea was sent to the sin bin and Hodgson held his nerve to allow Newcastle to regain the lead, with the visitors holding out on their own line in the final five minutes to secure a historic victory.
In a tough Pool 3 encounter, a try from England hopeful Michael Rhodes gave Saracens a 13-3 win against the Glasgow Warriors, whose only points of the match came via the boot of Adam Hastings. Rhodes went over after the first 10 minutes with Owen Farrell adding a conversion and a couple of penalties in the first half. Both sides had great opportunities to score but cancelled each other out in the second period.
In other results, Johan Ackermann’s Gloucester opened their account by beating Top 14 title holder Castres 19-14 and the Cardiff Blues came from a 16-14 half-time deficit to secure a 30-21 away win against Lyon.
Champions Cup round 1 results (Sunday):
Gloucester 19 Castres 14
Lyon 21 Cardiff Blues 30
Toulon 25 Newcastle Falcons 26
Glasgow Warriors 3 Saracens 13
Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP