Heineken Champions Cup Pool A side Gloucester Rugby won a thrilling Friday night contest against Pool B’s London Irish 22-21 at the Gtech Community Stadium in the Gallagher Premiership.

Santiago Socino and Ruan Ackermann crossed in the first half for the visitors, who open their Heineken Champions Cup campaign against Union Bordeaux-Bègles at home on December 10, but trailed 12-18 at the interval.

Socino added his second of the game – Gloucester’s third – in the second period before a breathtaking drop goal by Adam Hastings from inside his own half clinched victory.

London Irish, who open the 2022-23 Heineken Champions Cup season with a home game against Montpellier Hérault Rugby on December 9, thought they had done enough to take victory with tries from Agustín Creevy and Ben Loader in addition to 11 points from the boot of Paddy Jackson.

In the United Rugby Championship, Vodacom Bulls continued preparations for their maiden EPCR competition campaign with a 44-22 win over Benetton Rugby in Treviso.

The South African side, who host Lyon in Pretoria on December 10, notched five tries in the contest, all in the second half: Ruan Nortjé, Elrigh Louw, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Marcell Coetzee and Stravino Jacobs on the mark for visitors.