- Title-holders Leicester suffer opening round defeat
- Worcester record bonus point win
Photo: Getty Images
Two tries from Sam Smith and further scores from debutant centre Harry Sloan and fly-half Ben Botica handed Harlequins a dramatic opening day win at Northampton Saints.
2010 Cup winners Saints looked to have had the game in the bag after overturning a 21-9 half-time deficit, but Botica’s try with the last play of the game -which he crucially converted- took Harlequins to a 31-30 win at Franklin’s Gardens.
Exeter’s superior points difference sees the Chiefs top Pool 1 after an emphatic 42-15 win against London Welsh at Old Deer Park. As with Harlequins, Exeter fielded a team that mixed youth with experience and they were rewarded with a bonus-point victory.
Full-back Jack Nowell was the star of the show with a brace of tries. Gloucester occupy third place in the pool with one point, courtesy of a narrow defeat away to Ospreys, while Dragons left Bath empty-handed to sit bottom of the table.
Former England international Andy Goode came off the bench at half-time to inspire Worcester to a bonus-point win at home to Scarlets. Warriors ran in four tries – the bonus-point clincher coming from Neil Best in the final minute – to top Pool 2.
Worcester hold a one-point advantage over Cardiff Blues who beat Wasps 22-17 to make it an unhappy return to The Arms Park for former boss Dai Young. The win ended the Blues’ miserable run of six straight defeats.
Sale had to be content with a losing bonus point at London Irish, while reigning champions Leicester got off to the worst possible start in their defence of the trophy with a 38-21 reverse at the hands of Saracens at Bedford’s Goldington Road ground.
Saracens top Pool 3 as a result of their victory over the Tigers. Again youth and experience proved a potent mix in a match that was sewn up at half-time.
Saracens led 27-0 following tries from Jamie George, Duncan Taylor and veteran wing Joe Maddock. Andy Saull added a further try after the break and Nils Mordt supplied 18 points from the kicking tee.
London Irish matched Saracens in taking a maximum five points from their first game of the campaign. Irish battled back from being 21-10 down at the interval against Sale to win 34-28 and avenge their Premiership defeat to the Sharks a week earlier.
Matt Garvey led the way for Irish with two of his side’s four tries. Wasps are in third with one point and Scarlets prop up the fledgling table.
Bath and Ospreys are tied on four points at the top of Pool 4 after their respective wins over the Dragons and Gloucester.
Army recruit Semesa Rokoduguni enjoyed a memorable debut for Bath with two of his side’s tries in a 36-15 win, while family bragging rights went the way of Sam Davies after Ospreys defeated his father Nigel’s Gloucester side.
It took a last-gasp try from Morgan Allen to seal a 33-27 win for the Welsh region in a match that provided plenty of entertainment despite the terrible conditions at the Liberty Stadium. Saints’ losing bonus point at home to Harlequins means they are in third ahead of a pointless London Welsh.