La Rochelle, Cardiff Blues and Connacht claimed pool victories in Friday's Challenge Cup action, giving them a boost going into Round 4.
The French side move up to second spot in Pool 4 while the Blues are now joint second in Pool 3 with their French opponents. Connacht meanwhile are sitting pretty in Pool 1 with their third successive victory of the European campaign.
La Rochelle 27-19 Zebre
La Rochelle claimed a bonus-point victory over Zebre at Stade Marcel Deflandre, running out 27-19 winners thanks to a clinical first-half.
The hosts enjoyed an excellent opening 40 as they went into the break 20-0 ahead thanks to scores from full-back Benjamin Lapeyre, number eight Jone Qovu and wing Kini Murimurivalu. Zebre could not even trouble the scoreboard as they looked distinctly second best in France.
They would score their fourth try in the 57th minute when fly-half Fabien Fortassin crossed to make it 27-0 as the game looked to be done.
But credit to Zebre who rallied with a try apiece from replacements Giiulio Toniolatti and Guglielmo Palazzani, which set up an intriguing final twelve minutes with the scores now at 27-12. A late penalty try also came as Zebre finished the stronger, but left with nothing.
For La Rochelle:
Tries: Lapeyre, Qovu, Murimurivalu, Fortassin
Con: Fortassin, Lebail
Tries: Toniolatti, Palazzani, Penalty
Con: Padovani 2
La Rochelle: 15 Benjamin Lapeyre, 14 Lancelot Luteau, 13 Elliot Roudil, 12 Malietoa Hingano, 11 Kini Murimurivalu, 10 Fabien Fortassin, 9 Jules Lebail, 8 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 7 Zeno Kieft, 6 Romain Sazy, 5 Leo Cedaro, 4 Damien Lagrange, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Maxime Gau, 1 Thomas Synaeghel.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Geledan, 17 Jordan Seneca, 18 Gagi Bazadze, 19 Romana Graham, 20 Benoit Guyot, 21 Ricky Januarie, 22 Jean-Pascal Barraque, 23 Kamilieni Raivono.
Zebre: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Kayle Van Zyl, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Michele Visentin, 10 Edoardo Padovani, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Paul Derbyshire, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Valerio Bernabo, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Victor Emiliano Coria Marchetti, 1 Andrea de Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Giiulio Toniolatti, 23 Carlo Canna.
Referee: Tom Foley (England)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Small (England), Roger Baileff (England)
Cardiff Blues 37-27 Montpellier
Cardiff Blues sealed a bonus-point victory over big-spending Montpellier in Pool 3 as they prevailed 37-27 at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.
It was the perfect start for the Blues when fly-half Rhys Patchell crossed in the first minute for seven points. But the wheels came off soon after when loosehead prop Jamie Mackintosh and wings Timoci Nagusa and Julien Malzieu moved Montpellier 7-20 ahead after 20 minutes.
Fortunately for Cardiff Blues, returning back-row Josh Navidi managed to cut the gap to six points just before the interval with a score.
Lloyd Williams' try three minutes into the second-half was just what the doctor ordered for the hosts and when wing Alex Cuthbert crossed on the hour mark, suddenly the Blues were in front. Patchell's 66th minute penalty added an extra buffer as the score was now 29-20.
The result was sewn up on 69 minutes when Navidi crossed for his brace and despite Charles Geli going over for Montpol late on for their fourth try, it was Cardiff Blues left smiling as they claimed a bonus-point victory on home soil that gives their pool hopes a major boost.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Patchell, Navidi 2, Williams, Cuthbert
Con: Patchell 3
Pen: Patchell 2
Tries: Mackintosh, Nagusa, Malzieu, Geli
Con: Paillaugue, Catrakilis
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Tom James, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 James Down, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Tau Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Scott Andrews, 20 Cam Dolan, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Garyn Smith.
Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Anthony Tuitavke, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 Benjamin Lucas, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Antoine Battut, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Charles Geli, 17 Mikheil Nariashvili, 18 Nicolas Mas, 19 Robins Tchale Watchou, 20 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Anthony Floch.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
Connacht 25-10 Newcastle
Connacht made it three wins out of three in the Challenge Cup this campaign as they saw off Newcastle Falcons 25-10 at the Sportsground.
It was 9-3 to the Irish at half-time thanks to the boot of Jack Carty, with Craig Willis responding for the visitors in a low-scoring 40 minutes.
Carty added to the tally but when captain Richard Mayhew crossed for the Falcons to make it 12-10, the points were up for grabs in Galway.
Connacht though once again turned to the boot of Carty before replacement wing Danie Poolman scored a 74th minute try which sealed victory.
Pen: Carty 6
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 George Naoupu, 7 James Connolly, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris Wright, 1 Finlay Bealham.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Conan O'Donnell, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Danny Qualter, 20 David Heffernan, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Shane O'Leary, 23 Danie Poolman.
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Dan Marshall, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Chris Harris, 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Daniel Temm, 6 Richard Mayhew (c), 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Will Witty, 3 Taione Vea, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alex Rogers.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Calum Green, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Ruaridh Dawson, 22 Juan Pablo Socino, 23 Marcus Watson.
Referee: Thomas Charabas (France)
Assistant Referees: David Rosich (France), Laurent Amic (France)