Ahead of the return of EPCR competitions next weekend, we take you through the best of Saturday’s domestic action involving Heineken Champions Cup clubs, with Pool A’s Exeter Chiefs too strong for Pool B strugglers Northampton Saints in the Gallagher Premiership.
Cowan-Dickie double for Exeter
Exeter and Northampton have enjoyed contrasting starts in the Heineken Champions Cup, with the former winning two from two and the latter without a point to their name.
And EPCR form held true in the Premiership as Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, who scored a hat-trick of tries in Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup, crossed for a double in a 35-12 win at Sandy Park.
Sam Simmonds, Olly Woodburn and Henry Slade also went over as Joe Simmonds slotted all five conversions. Fraser Dingwall and Matt Proctor notched consolation tries for Saints.
Leicester left bruised at Newcastle
Elsewhere in the Premiership, Leicester Tigers suffered a heavy defeat to Newcastle Falcons as new head coach Richard Wigglesworth was left with much to ponder ahead of his maiden Heineken Champions Cup game in charge.
Leicester went down 45-26 at Kingston Park and trailed by 23 points at the break as Ben Youngs’ try provided their only points in a damaging first 40 minutes.
Ollie Chessum, Jimmy Gopperth and Sean Jansen all dotted down in the second half to reduce the deficit, though Newcastle continued to add points to their tally and left Leicester needing a response when they visit ASM Clermont Auvergne on Friday night.
TOP TACKLES SO FAR 👊
We've put together all the biggest hits and terrific try-savers from #HeinekenChampionsCup & @ChallengeCup_ R1 & 2 ➡️ https://t.co/3x6AEhD9RG pic.twitter.com/FHdea8WGul
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 7, 2023
Leinster edge out Ospreys
In the United Rugby Championship (URC), Heineken Champions Cup Pool A leaders Leinster Rugby were made to work hard for a 24-19 at Pool B contenders Ospreys.
The Welsh region, who are gunning for a historic double over TOP 14 champions Montpellier Hérault Rugby when the Heineken Champions Cup returns, led with an hour played as Keelan Giles crossed and Cai Evans kicked 14 points.
But Leinster would eventually showcase their attacking power as Dan Sheehan, Hugo Keenan and Jimmy O’Brien all dotted down to secure another victory for the Irish province and preserve their unbeaten record this season.
Edinburgh leave it late to see off Zebre
Elsewhere in the URC, Edinburgh Rugby geared up for their Heineken Champions Cup trip to Castres Olympique by scraping to a 24-17 win over Zebre Parma at DAM Health Stadium.
The Scottish region were in control at the break thanks to tries from Charlie Shiel and Jack Blain, but let Zebre back into the game and trailed 17-10 in the second half.
However, Connor Boyle’s score levelled proceedings before a last-gasp try from Paddy Harrison won it for Edinburgh.
La Rochelle crush Toulouse
In the TOP 14, Stade Rochelais came out on top of an encounter between the two leading sides in Heineken Champions Cup Pool B.
La Rochelle, who lead the pool on points difference, powered to a 30-7 win at Stade Marcel Deflandre as Romain Sazy, Pierre Boudehent and Kyle Hatherall went over.
Antoine Hastoy, the Heineken Champions Cup’s leading points-scorer after two rounds, added 15 points while Arthur Retière dotted down for Toulouse’s solitary try.