It was a super Saturday for all of the Aviva Premiership Rugby’s clubs in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, as every side in action registered victories.
Harlequins’ victory was perhaps the most impressive as they maintained their perfect start in the competition, sweeping aside Rugby Calvisano in Italy with an eight-try showing.
It took the Aviva Premiership Rugby side less than half an hour to secure a bonus point, which moves them back to the summit of Pool 3 ahead of Cardiff Blues.
Luke Wallace scored twice for Conor O’Shea’s side, and after Mark Lambert, Jack Clifford, Ross Chisholm, Matt Hopper, Kyle Sinckler and Charlie Walker had all also crossed, the Irish director of rugby was impressed with his side’s professional job.
“I'm delighted,” he said. “We made a lot of changes but the lads who have come in have done a real job.
“We hammered home to the players that we were coming to a place where they play with a lot of pride and passion and we saw against the Ospreys how tough they can be.
“But with all respect to Calvisano we knew we were going to be the stronger team and we wanted to impose ourselves on them from the start and we did that.
“We did a very professional job up front and that gave us a real platform to work from. Luke Wallace was deservedly man of the match but this was all about the team.
“Little by little we are getting to where we want to be. If we can do a job against Calvisano at the Stoop next week then it's in our hands and we want to get a home quarter-final.”
Meanwhile a late penalty try for was enough for Sale Sharks to creep past Castres Olympique 17-10 and record a vital away win.
Nev Edwards handed Sale a dream start at Stade Pierre Antoine with a try in the first minute, but it was the Sharks defence that won them the game after centre Florian Vialelle touched down and Sale held firm for the remainder of the clash.
Friday’s action saw Newcastle Falcons go down 25-10 in tricky conditions at Connacht.
It was a battle of the boots as Craig Willis was outscored by Jack Carty by four penalties to one in the first-half.
Richard Mayhew finally broke through for Newcastle, but after Carty struck twice more to close the match out, winger Danie Poolman put the gloss on the victory with Connacht's first try late on.
And Gloucester Rugby emerged victorious in Thursday evening’s clash of Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs, beating Worcester Warriors 34-22 to keep themselves on course for the quarter finals.
The defending champions ran out winners at Sixways, thanks to two tries from Henry Purdy, as well as scores from Rob Cook, Steve McColl and Billy Twelvetrees.
The two teams had gone in level at half-time at 10-10, and the Warriors managed tries from Dean Hammond, Darren O'Shea and Mike Daniels, but after coming away with nothing from the game now face an uphill battle to reach the last eight.
But arguably the performance of the weekend came from London Irish winger Andrew Fenby, whose hat-trick inspired the Exiles to a convincing 38-6 victory at home to Edinburgh Rugby.
The bonus-point win took London Irish to the top of Pool 5, Alex Lewington, Johnny Williams and Asaeli Tikoirotuma also adding to Fenby’s trio of scores.
But perhaps even better for London Irish – who have conceded the most tries in Aviva Premiership Rugby so far this season – was the fact they limited to Scottish side to just two penalties, and backs coach Clark Laidlaw insisted the balance between attack and defence won them the match.
He said: “We're working hard on our defence and it's something we know we have to get better. So to keep Edinburgh to no tries was pleasing.
“They came with an attacking intent and attacked well for a spell after half time so to keep them out is really pleasing and the boys should be really proud of that.
“We know we've got tries in us and it's been a balancing act but we got it much better.
“To score six tries in any game is always encouraging and there will be areas of the game where we can take some real confidence but there will be other areas where we will review and have to get much better.
“[Andrew] has been waiting in the wings and has been frustrated waiting for his opportunity. But I thought he took his chance brilliantly and to score his hat-trick was great – they were all good finishes too.”
Rugby Calvisano 10 Harlequins 50
Tries: Wallace 2, Lambert, Clifford, Chisholm, Hopper, Sinckler, Walker
Conversions: Botica 5
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
London Irish 38 Edinburgh Rugby 6
Tries: Fenby 3, Lewington, Williams, Tikiorotuma
Conversions: Geraghty 3, Brophy-Clews
Penalties: Tonks 2
Referee: Leighton Hodges
Castres Olympique 10 Sale Sharks 17
Tries: Edwards, Penalty
Conversions: Ford 2
Referee: David Wilkinson
Connacht 25 Newcastle Falcons 10
Penalties: Carty 6
Referee: Thomas Charabas
Worcester Warriors 22 Gloucester Rugby 34
Tries: Hammond, Daniels, O'Shea
Conversions: Lamb 2
Tries: Purdy 2, Cook, McColl, Twelvetrees
Conversions: Laidlaw 3
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz
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