Wins for Saints and Sale
A review of the weekend's action in the Heineken Cup.
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Northampton survived a major scare at Franklin's Gardens before launching their Heineken Cup campaign in bonus-point fashion with a 24-15 win over Glasgow.
Saints trailed 15-0 before they turned the Pool Four clash on its head through three tries in six minutes either side of half-time.
Centre George Pisi touched down twice, while fly-half Stephen Myler's try just after the break nudged Northampton ahead for the first time before wing Vasily Artemyev's late effort sealed it.
Myler and Ryan Lamb each booted a conversion to help wipe out a deficit as Saints conceded tries to Glasgow flanker Josh Strauss and wing Sean Lamont after Peter Horne kicked an early penalty and converted Strauss' try.
Danny Cipriani was Sale Sharks' hero as the Premiership strugglers overturned a 27-12 deficit to gain a dramatic, morale-boosting 34-33 triumph over Cardiff Blues.
The Sharks were trailing by 15 points when Cipriani was introduced from the bench after 49 minutes and he scored one try and created another as Bryan Redpath's men went on to snatch a breathless victory.
Cardiff, who played all but five minutes of the match without Sam Warburton due to injury, were still leading 30-24 when they were reduced to 14 men with the sin-binning of replacement Lewis Jones seven minutes from the end.
And the extra man advantage proved crucial as former Munster prop Tony Buckley was driven over for the match-winning try a minute later, although the Sharks were hanging on in the end after Leigh Halfpenny's seventh goal from as many attempts had cut the gap to a solitary point.
The outcome was tough on Wales winger Alex Cuthbert, whose first-half hat-trick of tries looked to have put his side on their way to victory.
Two-time Heineken Cup champions Leicester could not pick up a point from their opening Pool Two match against Toulouse after a 23-9 defeat in the south of France.
The Tigers were only 11-9 behind at the break but the kicking prowess of Luke McAlister won the day for the home side with his boot accounting for 18 points, with centre's Gael Fickou's first half try the only of the game.
Toulon began their campaign with a bonus-point 37-16 victory over Montpellier in an entertaining game at the Stade Mayol.
Delon Armitage touched down for two tries, while Jonny Wilkinson kicked two conversions and a brace of penalties to lift Toulouse top of Pool six.
Flanker Pierrick Gunther was first to go over for the home side just 15 minutes in before Bakkies Botha scored to put his side in control.
Armitage's two scores extended their advantage before Mamuka Gorgodze scored a late consolation with eight minutes left.
However, there was still time for replacement centre Mathieu Bastareaud to seal the win with three minutes left.
On Saturday, a late Olly Barkley penalty helped give Racing Metro an unlikely 22-17 victory over Munster at a soggy Stade de France.
Simon Zebo looked like he had earned the visitors the points with a brilliant 73rd-minute solo try, but when Conor Murray was penalised for holding on inside his 22 with three minutes left, Barkley held his nerve to slot over.
Mirco Bergamasco, kicking while Barkley received treatment, then struck another penalty in the final minute to give the French club a famous first win.
Sean Dougall's 15th-minute try had helped Munster take a 10-0 lead, while Ronan O'Gara passed 1,300 Heineken Cup points as Munster took charge.
But when Doug Howlett failed to collect a low pass from O'Gara, home scrum-half Maxime Machenaud chased through for a try after 31 minutes. Having converted that try, Barkley slotted over a penalty to give Racing a 13-10 half-time lead.
After a scrappy start to the second half in muddy conditions, Racing's latest signing struck another huge penalty to extend the home side's advantage
But, just when it looked like Racing might hold on, Zebo scored with seven minutes left and Ian Keatley's conversion from wide out on the left put Munster 17-16 in front.
However, two late infringements cost Munster dear as Racing stole the points.
Defending champions Leinster were left clinging on for a nervy 9-6 win over competition debutants Exeter Chiefs at the RDS.
Argentina international Ignacio Mieres missed an injury-time penalty to earn a draw for Exeter as Jonathan Sexton's nine-point haul proved to be just enough for the 2009, 2011 and 2012 winners.
Led by man-of-the-match Tom Hayes, the Chiefs played the better rugby for much of a tryless Pool Five opener and looked right at home in Europe's top tournament.
However, fly-half Gareth Steenson missed two of his four penalty attempts as his opposite number Sexton helped Leinster squeeze home.
Charlie Hodgson led the way with a 25-point haul as Saracens launched their campaign by dismantling Edinburgh 45-0 at Murrayfield.
Hodgson scored one of five tries - Joel Tomkins, Owen Farrell, Chris Ashton and Alex Goode claimed the others - and booted four penalties and four conversions as Edinburgh were completely outclassed.
Saracens were on top right from the start and former rugby league star Tomkins marked his Heineken Cup debut by claiming the opening try.
And even when Sarries were down to 14 men following the second-half sin-binning of Schalk Brits, Edinburgh failed to make an impression.
Harlequins overcame the early loss of Nick Evans to make a triumphant start, winning a bruising clash with Biarritz 40-13.
Evans, the Premiership champions' ringmaster, limped off just 17 minutes into the evening with his left ankle heavily strapped and was later using crutches.
But even without him, Quins were able to subdue Biarritz with his replacement Ben Botica proving a highly-capable deputy in a bonus-point victory.
Botica, who joined Quins this season and is the son of rugby league great Frano, kicked 18 points and showed a promising level of composure.
Tries from Danny Care, Rob Buchanan, Jordan Turner Hall and Seb Stegmann also helped ensure the tournament's fifth favourites escaped a third successive defeat.
Biarritz's points came from a Arnaud Heguy try and the boot of Julien Peyrelongue.
Morgan Stoddart's first-half red card saw a spirited Scarlets' challenge end in a comprehensive 49-16 defeat at Clermont Auvergne.
The Welsh side were more than competitive for the first 37 minutes, but Stoddart's dismissal for a second yellow effectively ended their hopes.
The scores were level at 13-13 when the Wales wing - who was making just his second appearance since a 15-month injury lay off - saw red, but last season's beaten semi-finalists ran away with game after that to secure a comprehensive bonus-point success.
Jon Davies' early try was the highlight for the Scarlets but Clermont crossed for six scores of their own, with Damien Chouly, Lee Byrne, Julien Bonnaire, Napolioni Nalaga and a penalty try adding to Sitiveni Sivivatu's first-half score.
Connacht made a winning start with a scrappy 19-10 victory away to tournament newcomers Zebre in Parma.
John Muldoon's 62nd-minute try proved vital for the visitors, who had dominated the third quarter but were starting to look like they would rue a series of missed opportunities in the home 22.
Connacht's former Scotland fly-half Dan Parks added the remainder of his side's points from four penalties and a conversion.
On Friday night, Ulster began their European campaign with a bonus-point victory after beating Castres 41-17 at Ravenhill.
First-half tries from Andrew Trimble and Paul Marshall set the home side on their way, with Marc Andreu responded for the visitors.
Marshall's second try of the game in the second half gave Ulster a 31-10 lead over the Top 14 club.
Marcel Garvey close-range effort gave Castres hope, but Ulster had the final say courtesy of Ruan Pienaar's injury-time score.
Youngster Paddy Jackson enjoyed a fine evening's work with the boot, converting three times and adding five penalties.
In Friday night's other game, Ospreys opened their campaign with a 38-17 bonus-point win over Treviso at the Liberty Stadium - but only after snuffing out a spirited second-half comeback by the Italians.
The Welsh region were indebted to a tries from Eli Walker, Hanno Dirksen (2) and Ashley Beck, while 18 points came from the boot of outside-half Dan Biggar.
Treviso scored two tries through Manoa Vosawai and Luke McLean, while Kris Burton supplied seven points with the boot.