2021 European Rugby Challenge Cup runners-up Leicester Tigers opened their domestic season with a 34-19 home victory over 2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

Leicester, back in the Heineken Champions Cup this term, scored five tries at Welford Road, with hooker Nic Dolly notching a second-half double, after full-back Freddie Steward, wing Harry Potter and outside centre Matt Scott had touched down in the first period.

Fly-half George Ford kicked a penalty and three conversions for Leicester to cap an impressive display, which was too much for Exeter, whose trio of tries came through flanker Don Armand, replacement Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and a penalty try.

Northampton Saints fly-half James Grayson was also in fine form as Saints overcame Gloucester Rugby 34-20 at Franklin’s Gardens.

The England U20 international dotted down a 45th minute try while booting 12 further points – via three conversion and two penalties – in a four-try Saints performance. Full-back George Furbank, replacement Nick Auterac and flanker Tom Wood were the other Saints try-scorers for the hosts.

Meanwhile, Sale Sharks edged a 20-19 thriller against Bath Rugby at the AJ Bell Stadium. Two tries in nine minutes from hooker Akker van der Merwe and wing Byron McGuigan decided the contest, with Bath replacement Juan Schoeman the solo try-scorer for the visitors.

In the TOP 14, Heineken Champions Cup winners Stade Toulousain fended off a late comeback to defeat European Rugby Challenge Cup holders Montpellier Hérault Rugby 17-15 at the GGL Stadium.

Romain Ntamack and Lucas Tauzin touched down for the visitors as Toulouse led 17-3 heading into the final quarter of an hour.

Tries from Martin Doan and Vincent Rattez brought the hosts within two points with four minutes remaining, but Paolo Garbisi was unable to convert the second of the tries, which would have tied the contest.

Elsewhere, 2021 Heineken Champions Cup runners-up Stade Rochelais suffered a 23-22 defeat at ASM Clermont Auvergne in a thriller. Peceli Yato and Tani Vili notched tries for the hosts, while Jules Plissen kicked 17 points in response.

Racing 92 suffered a surprise 28-19 loss at Biarritz Olympique, while Castres Olympique and 2021 Heineken Champions Cup semi-finalists Union Bordeaux-Bègles drew 23-23 at the Stade Pierre-Fabre, Castres fly-half Benjamín Urdapilleta kicking the game-tying penalty with four minutes remaining.