Pool 1 runners-up Toulouse delivered the first blow on Sunday ahead of their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Racing 92 by defeating the 2018 finalists 34-29 in the TOP 14.
Tries from utility back Arthur Bonneval and full-back Sofiane Guitone were cancelled out by fly-half Finn Russell and wing Juan Imhoff, but the four-time European Cup winners pulled clear with further scores from wing Lucas Tauzin and fly-half Zack Holmes, who contributed 19 points.
Racing 92 replacements Antoine Gibert and Joe Rokocoko salvaged a bonus point for the Parisians, who have added a familiar face to their ranks for the rest of the season in former All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter.
The 36-year-old – who featured in Racing’s 2016 Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens – has signed for the two-time finalists until the end of the season after Pat Lambie’s retirement last month.
Carter could therefore feature in the all-French Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at the Paris La Defense Arena on March 31, live on BT Sport, FR2 and beIN SPORTS.
Excited to be joining my Ciel et Blanc brothers for the remainder of the Top 14 Season in France. I’m coming back mid season as a Medical Joker. It was very sad to hear about @PatLambie’s… https://t.co/Ari5ZyB9Gm
— Dan Carter (@DanCarter) February 18, 2019
Saracens returned to the top of the Gallagher Premiership as they fought back from 10-5 down to defeat Leicester Tigers 33-10 at Allianz Park.
The Pool 3 winners came roaring back with tries from scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, wing David Strettle, replacement scrum-half Ben Spencer and hooker Tom Woolstencroft.
There was also a win for Saracens’ quarter-final opponents at Allianz Park on March 30, Glasgow Warriors, who squeezed past Cardiff Blues 38-34 in the Guinness PRO14 at Cardiff Arms Park, with fly-half Peter Horne racking up 18 points.
Fellow Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finalists Leinster Rugby, Munster Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby and Ulster Rugby claimed PRO14 victories at the weekend as well.
Leinster coasted home 40-24 at Zebre Rugby Club, Munster crushed Southern Kings 43-0 at Irish Independent Park, Ulster won 8-0 at Ospreys and Edinburgh defeated Dragons 34-17 at BT Murrayfield.