France's heavyweights kicked off their European campaigns with mixed results, as Stade Français and Biarritz secured impressive wins over Edinburgh (31-7) and Glasgow (18-22), while Perpignan slumped to a shock defeat at minnows Treviso (9-8).
AFP - South African fly-half Marius Goosen kicked three penalties to help Italian minnows Treviso stun French champions Perpignan 9-8 here in the European Cup on Saturday.
Over four seasons in Europe Treviso have only secured one victory, so this result -- against a team considered one of the Pool 1 favourites -- came as something of a surprise for the Italians themselves.
Goosen converted in the 23rd minute and then handed the hosts a 6-0 lead a minute before the half-time whistle.
The Catalans had struggled to make any threatening moves inside the Italians' half and had to wait until the 54th minute before putting points on the board, courtesy of a Jerome Porical penalty.
Porical gave Perpignan hope of a late upset when he touched over with three minutes remaining but he then missed the conversion that would have given Perpignan the two points, and victory.
Perpignan, finalists in 2004, will be looking to bounce back ahead of next week when they host Northampton, while fellow group favourites Munster host Treviso.
After defending champions Leinster's 9-12 defeat on Friday to London Irish, the form book was largely respected Saturday.
Llanelli Scarlets beat French side Brive 24-12, Clermont racked up a convincing 36-18 win over Italian side Viadana and Stade Francais beat Edinburgh 31-7.
Despite their margin of victory, Clermont's New Zealand coach Vern Cotter said: "The Italians are a good team, we had to respect them right to the finish. They gave us a good game.
"We're happy with the points but we're going to have to look over a few things ahead of next week."
An ineffective Harlequins were outplayed by Cardiff while another Scottish side, Glasgow Warriors, were beaten 18-22 by visiting Biarritz.
Harlequins' first European appearance since the recent 'bloodgate' scandal that left the club's reputation in tatters was followed by an error-strewn display and ended with a 20-6 defeat to Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital.
Fly-half Nick Evans, the injured goalkicker that disgraced club official Dean Richards tried to send on as replacement for Tom Williams against Leinster, booted two penalties from four attempts.
However in open play the visitors had little to offer as wings Tom James and Leigh Halfpenny touched over for Cardiff. Blues full-back Ben Blair kicked two conversions and two penalties.
While Perpignan were left red-faced, Stade Francais opened their Cup campaign with a 31-7 whipping of Edinburgh at the Jean-Bouin stadium in Paris.
Stade touched over four times, thus securing a bonus point, by the half hour mark and waltzed through the second half albeit without scoring further tries.
Julien Arias and Sergio Parisse scored a try apiece inside the first 10 minutes, with Pascal Pape and Lionel Beauxis adding one each to give the Parisians a 28-0 lead by half-time.
Edinburgh's lacklustre display was punctuated by bad ball handling but they scored a consolation in the second half courtesy of centre Ben Cairns.
Stade are now top of the group ahead of Ulster after the Irish province's 26-12 defeat of Bath, who visit the French capital next weekend.
But fly-half Julien Dupuy, who kicked all four conversions, warned: "We had a superb first half with good defence and some nice tries ... but let's not get carried away. This is only the first match."
Biarritz president Serge Blanco was buoyed with his side's performance but he believes the rugby they are capable of can take them a long way.
"I'm very happy, we played great in defence and played good football but I think we can show a lot better next Saturday (against Gloucester)," said Blanco.
"This is our tenth time (in Europe). The final is in France, so why can't we believe in our chances, or another French club?
"We've been dormant for the past two years, but we're back and want to make sure no-one's forgotten us."
Date created : 2009-10-10