We take a look at the best of Saturday’s domestic action involving Heineken Champions Cup clubs, with Harlequins’ turnaround against London Irish one of the highlights.
Head heroics in Quins comeback
George Head’s 84th minute try saw Harlequins snatch a 26-24 win at home to fellow Heineken Champions Cup contenders London Irish in an action-packed Gallagher Premiership clash comprising seven tries and two red cards.
Hooker Head, who could make his Heineken Champions Cup debut when Quins begin their Pool A campaign at Cell C Sharks on December 10, dotted down for Quins’ fourth score after coming off the bench at Twickenham Stoop.
Irish led 14-0 at the break thanks to tries from So’otala Fa’aso’o and Ben Donnell, but Tommaso Allan got Quins up and running shortly after the restart with the first of his two tries in a 16-point haul.
Donnell was then sent off for Irish, though Ollie Hassell-Collins notched the visitors’ third try moments later, with Alex Dombrandt and Allan hitting back for Quins.
The hosts’ Nick David was sent off before Paddy Jackson added a penalty to his three conversions to seemingly hand Irish victory, only for Head to crash over from a driving maul to secure Quins’ fourth league win of the season.
Two-try Mitchell stars for Saints
Elsewhere in the Premiership, scrum-half Alex Mitchell scored two tries as Northampton Saints underlined their Heineken Champions Cup credentials with a comfortable 45-31 home win over Bristol Bears.
Northampton were well in control as they crossed four times in the first half, with Mitchell going over twice in the opening 21 minutes before efforts from Ollie Sleightholme and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
Bristol rallied after half-time, but further scores from Matty Proctor and James Grayson saw Saints clinch a third win of their league campaign.
Happy #Halloween weekend 🎃
Who’s the scariest player in the #HeinekenChampionsCup this season? 👀 pic.twitter.com/XlyvhiEQ5L
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) October 30, 2022
Ulster edge out Munster
In the United Rugby Championship (URC), Ulster Rugby beat Munster Rugby 15-14 in an all-Heineken Champions Cup contest at Thomond Park.
Ulster led 15-3 at the interval thanks to unconverted tries from Jordi Murphy, Tom Stewart and James Hume, but Jack Crowley slotted two penalties for Munster before Shane Daly dotted down to set up a nervy finish.
However, Ulster survived to stay second in the table, with Crowley’s failure to convert Daly’s effort proving decisive.
DHL Stormers in derby win
Another entertaining URC clash saw Heineken Champions Cup newcomers DHL Stormers recover from 12 points down at the break to win 31-22 at local rivals Emirates Lions.
An Angelo Davids try converted by Manie Libbok, who also kicked a penalty, kept the visitors in touch at half-time.
Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Clayton Blommetjies and Nama Xaba then all went over in the second half to turn the tide, with Libbok adding the extras to all three to steer his side clear and take his match tally to 11 points.
Urdapilleta helps Castres see off Clermont
In the TOP 14, Benjamin Urdapilleta totalled 19 points as Castres Olympique triumphed 26-22 over fellow Heineken Champions Cup side ASM Clermont Auvergne at Stade Pierre-Fabre.
Urdapilleta, who has 120 points to his name in EPCR competitions, hit three first-half penalties as well as converting Gaëtan Barlot’s try.
Baptiste Jauneau dotted down for Clermont’s opening score on 35 minutes and although Urdapilleta slotted a fourth penalty shortly after the restart, the visitors got over again through Cheikh Tiberghien with an hour played.
However, Clermont’s hopes of a comeback faded as Arthur Iturria was sent off and Urdapilleta crossed on 73 minutes, with a late penalty try proving largely insignificant for Jono Gibbes’ men.