Shaun Goosen takes a look back at what was a jam-packed weekend of European rugby action.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Exeter are champions of Europe
Exeter Chiefs beat Racing 31-27 to claim a maiden Heineken Champions Cup title at Ashton Gate on Saturday. Rob Baxter’s men triumphed in a thrilling contest in which the French outfit nearly clawed their way back after going 14-0 down inside the opening 20 minutes. Ultimately, though, Exeter were simply too organised and managed to nullify their opponents exuberant play with their typical no-nonsense defensive system.
The final loss was Racing’s third since 2016, with the side still searching for their first title. Considering their quality though, there’s no doubt they’ll still be a force to be reckoned with this coming season. For the Chiefs, who only gained promotion to the Premiership 10-odd years ago, their success on the weekend was thoroughly deserved after so many years of consistent excellency under Baxter. They will have a chance to secure a rare double as they contest the Premiership final against Wasps this weekend.
Bristol break Toulon’s back
The Bristol Bears bagged their first European championship as they saw off Toulon 32-19 in the Challenge Cup final at the Stade Maurice David on Friday. The English side have been terrific all season long and put their disappointing Premiership semi-final defeat behind them to claim a first competitive title since their RFU Championship win in 2018. Toulon were undone by a lack of focus and intensity, particularly in the final quarter.
The Bears scored from the first kick-off in a crazy play after just 15-seconds. While Toulon did hit back to lead 16-10 at half-time, Bristol were not to be denied and went on to score a flurry of tries in the second-stanza to seal the win.
Big wins for Montpellier, La Rochelle and Lyon in Top 14
In a round that saw some big scoring take place, Montpellier pumped Agen 42-13, La Rochelle thrashed Castres 62-3 and Lyon battered Bayonne 62-10. Toulouse remain at the summit of the standings on 18-points with La Rochelle and Pau four back and Clermont (13) and Lyon (12) hot on their heels.
In other results, Pau beat Bordeaux-Begles, Toulouse won away at Brive (with that man Cheslin Kolbe scoring yet again), while Clermont scored a big win over Stade Francais.
Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets.