Champions Cup: Connacht, Sale, La Rochelle pick key wins

Connacht picked up a dominant bonus-point victory over Stade Francais at the Sportsground in Galway; Sale Sharks began their European Cup campaign with an away win at the Ospreys; Last season’s beaten European Cup finalists La Rochelle begin with tight home win vs Glasgow Warriors.

Last Updated: 12/12/21 6:48pm

John Porch was on the scoresheet as Connacht began their European Cup game in great style

Recap the rest of Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup action as Connacht, Sale Sharks and La Rochelle picked up wins vs Stade Francais, Ospreys and Glasgow Warriors…

Connacht 36-9 Stade Francais

Connacht opened up their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a richly-deserved 36-9 bonus-point win over Stade Francais at the Sportsground.

The westerners, who led 19-6 at half-time, tallied up six tries through Caolin Blade, John Porch, Alex Wootton, Eoghan Masterson, Diarmuid Kilgallen and Cian Prendergast, with captain Jack Carty adding three conversions.

Diarmuid Kilgallen was one of six Connacht try scorers as they beat Stade Francais comfortably in Galway

Stade only had three Nicolas Sanchez penalties to show for their efforts. All Blacks centre Ngani Laumape was a late withdrawal, with Waisea Nayacalevu, Clement Castets, Yoann Maestri and Sekou Macalou also among the absentees.

Connacht started as the aggressors and their approach was rewarded in spades after an early try from which they never looked back.

Playing their first Champions Cup game since 2016, Stade worked themselves back into proceedings and opened their account when Sanchez landed two penalties, but that aside they offered little.

Ospreys 13-21 Sale Sharks

Sale Sharks held off a fierce Ospreys fightback to launch their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a 21-13 victory in Swansea.

Alex Sanderson’s team cruised into a 21-3 lead midway through the first half after tries from centre Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, hooker Ewan Ashman and lock Jean-Luc Du Preez, with AJ MacGinty converting all three scores.

AJ Macginty and Sale Sharks began their 2021/22 European Cup with an away win at Ospreys

The Ospreys managed a Gareth Anscombe penalty in reply, and they looked down and out before dominating the second period, helped by Sale lock Lood De Jager and flanker Ben Curry being sin-binned.

De Jager received his yellow card just before the interval, and Sale played the second half a man down for 17 minutes.

Wing Luke Morgan scored a try for the home side, with substitute Josh Thomas adding a penalty and conversion, and Sanderson will know it ended up being a lot closer than it should have been.

Ultimately, though, it was an important away win that sets Sale up for a full-scale tilt against French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne at the AJ Bell Stadium next weekend.

La Rochelle 20-13 Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow suffered a 20-13 Heineken Champions Cup defeat away to last season’s finalists La Rochelle after the hosts plundered 10 match-winning points when Rory Drage was in the sin-bin for collapsing a maul.

Gregory Alldritt’s La Rochelle held off Glasgow Warriors to win at home

Having twice led in the game at Stade Marcel Deflandre, there was no way back after that for the Warriors, who at least left with a losing bonus point.

Glasgow garnered points via a Kyle Steyn try and eight points from the boot of Ross Thompson, but they will now likely have to beat Exeter at home next weekend to stand any real chance of progressing.

La Rochelle notched two tries through prop Reda Wardi and replacement Eneriko Buliruarua, while Ihaia West kicked two penalties and two conversions for the hosts.

Castres vs Harlequins (5.30pm kick off)

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