TOP BAR - Fixtures

Throwback Thursday: Five of the best European fixtures from last season

Throwback Thursday: Five of the best European fixtures from last season

European rugby returns this week with Gloucester Rugby kicking off proceedings in the Challenge Cup tonight against French outfit Pau.

All 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby sides will open their continental accounts over four days of action as Saracens look to make it three European Champions Cup titles in a row.

Mark McCall’s side went all the way once again last season, brushing aside Clermont at BT Murrayfield 28-17.

Elsewhere Gloucester made the final of the Challenge Cup but were undone late on by Stade Français, eventually losing 25-17.

So with the dawn of the European campaign just hours away, we take a look at some of the highlights of last season.

La Rochelle 14-16 Gloucester

Gloucester were on the hunt for their second Challenge Cup final in three years as they headed to La Rochelle for their final four encounter.

On a tense night at Stade Marcel-Deflandre, Billy Burns was the hero for the Cherry & Whites as they prevailed 16-14.

The fly-half scored all of the visitors’ points including a fine 59th-minute try as the English side resisted a late comeback from the hosts to book their place at BT Murrayfield.

Wasps 17-14 Toulouse

Wasps simply had to beat French outfit Toulouse if they were to keep up their hopes of reaching the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Their dream appeared over when Toulouse were awarded a penalty try after Elliot Daly had crossed for Wasps in a whirlwind second half.

Yet Dan Robson was able to crash over late on to hand Aviva Premiership Rugby side a last-gasp victory and renewed hope of advancing through the group.

Wasps went on to beat Zebre in their final match to qualify for the quarter finals before being knocked out by Leinster.

Bath 38-3 Cardiff Blues

Bath made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup and one of their most impressive victory came in the pool stages against Guinness PRO14 side Cardiff Blues.

The Blues had made a perfect start to the campaign but were ruthlessly undone at The Rec thanks to five tries in a stunning display from the hosts.

Ross Batty dotted down twice with Jack Wilson, Aled Brew and Elliott Stooke also crossing as Cardiff were reduced to 14 men when George Earle was sent off in the second period.

Leicester Tigers 18-16 Munster

Revenge was very much on the minds of Leicester Tigers after their 36-0 defeat against the Irish province at Thomond Park.

But the hosts atoned for their poor away display with a dramatic last-gasp victory courtesy of a late long-range penalty from Owen Williams.

Williams kicked six penalties throughout the absorbing clash but it seemed as if the Munstermen would prevail after Niall Scannell went over late in the second half.

Simon Zebo was sent to the sin-bin with 15 minutes to go and it was left to Williams to split the posts with two minutes to go and make amends for their heaviest-ever European defeat.

Saracens 28-17 Clermont

A scintillating performance from Saracens cemented their place in the history books as they blew away Clermont to secure back-to-back European Champions Cups.

Chris Ashton thundered over after 12 minutes before George Kruis also scored to help Saracens lead 12-7 at the break.

Nick Abendanon’s try 11 minutes into the second half brought Clermont back in contention to set up an absorbing finale.

But the expert kicking of Owen Farrell and a 72nd-minute try from Alex Goode ensured European’s biggest prize was returning to Allianz Park and took Saracens unbeaten European run to 18 matches.

To get all the latest news from Premiership Rugby sign up to our Newsletter

For more news, try out 2017-2018 All Clubs Europe News