Heineken Champions Cup Pool B side London Irish handed Saracens their first loss of the Premiership season on Friday, triumphing 29-20.
Saracens, three-time winners of EPCR’s leading competition, were punished for their lack of discipline as the Exiles’ Paddy Jackson kicked an invaluable 19 points to give his side the win.
Both sides had men sent off in the first 40 minutes for high tackles in a hard-hitting contest, with Adam Coleman departing for Irish and Ben Earl for the visitors, as Irish ran out deserved winners.
Ollie Hassell-Collins opened the scoring at the Gtech Community Stadium, and three Jackson penalties without reply saw the hosts build up a 16-3 lead by the half-hour mark.
Kapeli Pifeleti crossed for a converted try just before half-time to bring Saracens back withing scoring distance of the Exiles, but another penalty just before the break saw Jackson stretch his side’s lead.
It didn’t take long for Saracens to lay down a marker in the second 40, with Sean Maitland scoring, but again Jackson slotted a penalty to keep the opponents at bay.
With both sides already down to 14, it became 14 v 12 when Rory Jennings and Rob Simmons both saw yellow cards for Irish, and yet the hosts held firm under huge pressure before Chandler Cunningham-South sealed victory with a 78th minute try.
Your R2 #HeinekenChampionsCup Try of the Round is…
This @StadeToulousain stunner finished @Dupont9A 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/Tit1evG1qS
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 22, 2022
There were also Heineken Champions Cup sides in United Rugby Championship (URC) action on Friday.
In an all-South African affair, Pool B DHL Stormers defeated Pool A Vodacom Bulls 37-27 in a seven-try game. A penalty try added to by Joseph Dweba, Suleiman Hartzenberg and Leolin Zas all notched up points for the victorious hosts, while Nizaam Carr, Marco Gerhardt van Staden and Bismarck du Plessis scored for the visitors. Another all-South African game saw Cell C Sharks cruise to a 37-10 win over Emirates Lions.
In Scotland, Edinburgh Rugby lost 16-10 to rivals Glasgow Warriors, while over in Ireland Ulster Rugby, who earned two losing bonus points against Heineken Champions Cup holder Stade Rochelais last week, survived a late comeback to win 22-20, having led 19-3, at fellow Irish province Connacht Rugby’s Sportsground.
The TOP14 also saw plenty of Heineken Champions Cup sides in action: Union Bordeaux-Bègles defeated La Rochelle away from home 12-8, Stade Toulousain overcame Castres 22-18 and Montpellier Hérault Rugby beat USAP 38-10. ASM Clermont Auvergne lost 20-16 to CA Brive.