Champions Cup review: Subdued atmosphere despite easy win at Saracens

Saracens' Duncan Taylor and Ospreys' Kieran Williams
Saracens' Duncan Taylor and Ospreys' Kieran Williams

A review of Saturday's action in the Heineken Champions Cup, as Saracens won well despite a subdued atmosphere.

Saturday's results

  • Benetton 32-35 Northampton
  • Saracens 44-3 Ospreys
  • Toulouse 32-17 Connacht
  • Lyon 6-13 Leinster
  • Exeter 34-18 Glasgow
  • Hartlepool 15-9 Bath
  • Munster 21-21 Racing 92

Saracens overwhelmed the Ospreys 44-3 but their first home match since the salary cap scandal broke was played amid a subdued atmosphere at Allianz Park.

It was a return to winning ways for the Champions Cup holders after they launched their defence with a frustrating defeat at Racing 92 and their performance was a vast improvement on the opener six days earlier.

Elliot Daly' Saracens debut was full of creative devilry and the England full-back, playing his first match since the World Cup final on November 2, set-up two tries for lightning-fast wing Rotimi Segun.

Mako Vunipola and George Kruis also returned to action after helping Eddie Jones' squad reach the Japan showpiece and the tight five trio made substantial contributions to a superb bonus-point victory.

Singleton went over for Saracens' first try and was eventually replaced by Jamie George, while captain Brad Barritt made a successful comeback after six weeks out because of concussion.

Dan Biggar's 85th-minute match-winning penalty gave Northampton a thrilling 35-32 victory over Benetton Rugby in Italy.

With the teams locked at 32-32 and the clock in the red zone, Benetton winger Iliesa Ratuva was judged to have deliberately knocked on Tom Collins' pass.

It gave Biggar the chance to seal victory and he stepped up in nerveless fashion to send the ball between the posts with the last play of the game.

The Saints rallied from 22-8 down to retake the lead in a game which saw both teams claim a bonus point for scoring four tries. Collins grabbed two with Cobus Reinach and Ollie Sleightholme also going over. Benetton played superbly with hooker Hame Faiva scoring twice, while Ratuva and Juan Ignacio Brex also crossed.

Toulouse remained unbeaten in this season's Champions Cup after recording a hard-fought 32-17 bonus-point victory over Connacht at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Tries from Sebastien Bezy, Yoann Huget, Jerome Kaino and Pita Ahki plus 12 points from the boot of Thomas Ramos was enough to secure maximum points for the four-time champions.

Connacht scored two tries of their own courtesy of Tom Farrell and Caolin Blade with Conor Fitzgerald kicking seven points.

Exeter continued their impressive start to their Champions Cup campaign with a bonus-point 34-18 victory over Glasgow at Sandy Park.

After last's week superb 31-12 win at La Rochelle, Exeter backed it up with a convincing win over the Scots, who were run ragged in the second half.

It was not always plain-sailing for the Chiefs as they trailed 13-10 at the interval but a much improved second-half performance saw them totally dominate an out-gunned Glasgow.

Jonny Hill, Henry Slade, Sam Simmonds and Tom O'Flaherty scored their tries with Joe Simmonds converting all four and adding two penalties.

Nick Grigg and George Turner scored Glasgow's tries with Adam Hastings kicking two penalties and a conversion.

Leinster withstood a fierce onslaught from TOP14 leaders Lyon to grind out a hard-fought 13-6 win at the Stade de Gerland.

The Irish province played much of the game without the ball, but their defence was up to the challenge as they repelled their French opponent's powerful carriers.

Leo Cullen's men scored the only try of the game through No 8 Max Deegan with Ireland ace Johnny Sexton kicking a conversion and two penalties on his second club appearance of the season.

Jonathan Wisniewski booted two Lyon penalties as they took a losing bonus point.

Marcus Smith's accuracy from the kicking tee proved the difference as Harlequins beat Bath 15-9 in a tense game.

Four penalties from Smith put Harlequins 12-0 up after 50 minutes in an all-Gallagher Premiership clash at the Stoop.

Freddie Burns knocked over two kicks of his own to halve the deficit as Bath threatened a comeback before a James Lang penalty made it 15-6.

Elia Elia was sent to the sin bin late on and Burns reduced the deficit to six, but it was not enough as Harlequins held on for a deserved win.

It was a tale of two fly-halves at Thomond Park as JJ Hanrahan kicked Munster to a dramatic 21-21 draw with a Finn Russell-inspired Racing 92.

Hanrahan was ice cool when converting Andrew Conway's 75th-minute try from the right touchline, but then snatched at a late drop-goal attempt for the win.

Leading 14-11 at half-time thanks to terrific scores from Russell and Teddy Thomas, Racing were on course to become the first French winners of a Heineken Champions Cup game in Limerick since Clermont Auvergne in December 2014.

Munster were briefly level thanks to Keith Earls' late first-half try and JJ Hanrahan's third successful penalty, but despite a Juan Imhoff try opening up a seven-point gap, the hosts slammed it shut through Conway and Hanrahan.

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