Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter insists his side are back to their best after they took command of their European Rugby Challenge Cup pool with a 33-24 victory over Connacht in Galway.
The Aviva Premiership Rugby side clinched victory at the Sportsground thanks to tries from Don Armand and Dean Mumm as well as a penalty try and 18 points from the boot of Henry Slade.
Matt Healy had put the Irish province ahead after just five minutes and there were also scores for Willie Falloon and Danie Poolman while Jack Carty added two conversions.
But it was not enough as the Chiefs dominated the second half and, despite a late second try for Healy, they held on for their fourth win of the campaign, much to the delight of Baxter.
“I think that we recaptured some of our early-season qualities today,” he said.
“We came good in the physical parts of the game and our scrum was very good and that was important for us.
“But we’ve got an important game next weekend and we’re not counting our chickens just yet.”
Elsewhere London Irish moved to the top of Pool 1 after they came from behind to beat Grenoble with a bonus-point 43-41 win at the Madejski Stadium.
Alex Lewington put the hosts ahead and that was followed by a penalty try but the French side hit back with tries from Julien Caminati, Louis Marrou and a brace from Laurent Bouchet while James Hart and Caminati kicked over 21 points between them.
Irish replied through Tom Guest, Geoff Cross and 11 points from Shane Geraghty’s boot before Andrew Fenby dotted down.
With time winding down Myles Dorrian crossed for a late try and Tom Homer kept his cool to complete the comeback.
But despite the win the Exiles’ interim head coach Glenn Delaney, in charge of the team for the first time since the departure of Brian Smith, says his side must improve.
"We have to grow the expectation of what is an acceptable level of performance,” he said.
"I think we're honest enough to say that wasn't an acceptable level of performance, we need to be better than that.”
It was not good news for Newcastle Falcons as they lost 40-29 at home to Newport Gwent Dragons.
Tom Catterick kicked the hosts in front but Tyler Morgan crossed for Newport. The visitors were then rewarded a penalty try before Andrew Coombs dotted down.
Hallam Amos grabbed the bonus-point score before setting up Rynard Landman for the fifth try of the afternoon.
Juan Pablo Socino and Chris Harris crossed in the second half for Newcastle but Amos replied with the decisive score, while Tom Prydie added five conversions in total.
Gloucester Rugby cemented their place in the quarter-finals with a 33-3 triumph over French side Oyonnax at Kingsholm.
Tries from Billy Burns, Jonny May and Mark Atkinson inside the opening ten minutes set the Cherry & Whites well on their way before a penalty try earned them a bonus point and Dan Robson completed the rout.
And London Welsh continued their disappointing Challenge Cup campaign as they lost their fifth European match in a row, 23-3 away at Bordeaux.
Clement Maynadier crossed for the hosts and Pierre Bernard converted before Tristan Roberts scored Welsh’s only points of the afternoon with a penalty.
Charles Brousse, Metuisela Talebulamaijaina and Bertrand Guiry added further tries and Lionel Beauxis completed the scoring with two more conversions.
Connacht 24 Exeter Chiefs 33
Tries: Healy 2, Faloon, Poolman
Conversions: Carty 2
Tries: Penalty, Mumm, Armand
Conversions: Slade 3
Penalties: Slade 4
Referee: Mathieu Raynal
London Irish 43 Grenoble 41
Tries: Lewington, Penalty, Guest, Cross, Fenby, Dorrian
Conversions: Geraghty, Homer
Penalties: Geraghty 3
Tries: Bouchet 2, Caminati, Marrou
Conversions: Hart 3
Penaltiess: Caminati 2 Hart 2
Drop Goal: Caminati
Referee: Dudley Phillips
Newcastle Falcons 29 Newport Gwent Dragons 40
Tries: Socino, Harris, Welch, Saull
Conversions: Catterick 2, Clegg
Newport Gwent Dragons
Tries: Morgan, Penalty try, Coombs, Amos 2, Landman,
Conversions: Prydie 5
Referee: John Lacey
Gloucester 33 Oyonnax 3
Tries: Burns, May, Atkinson, Penalty, Robson
Conversions: Laidlaw 4
Referee: Andrew McMenemy
Bordeaux-Begles 26 London Welsh 3
Tries: Maynadier, Brousse, Talebulamaijaina, Guiry
Conversions: Bernard, Beauxis 2
Referee: Gary Conway
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