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Gloucester get off to a winning start in Challenge Cup

Published 14/11/2015

Henry Purdy went over for Gloucester
Henry Purdy went over for Gloucester

Holders Gloucester launched their European Challenge Cup defence with a 23-10 win over Italian side Zebre at Kingsholm.

Gloucester, who beat Edinburgh in last season's final in May, went over for three tries and scored all their points before the break after producing a dominant first-half performance.

Back Henry Purdy went in at the corner before flanker Ross Moriarty and full-back Steve McColl touched down to put Gloucester firmly in control.

Fly-half Billy Burns, younger brother of Leicester Tigers' number 10 Freddie, was successful with one conversion and two penalties.

Edoardo Padovani converted a second-half penalty try for Zebre and slotted over another penalty, with Gloucester unable to secure a bonus point that a fourth touch down would have merited.

Cardiff Blues put their disappointing Pro12 form behind them to open their European campaign with seven tries and a bonus point following a 50-9 rout of Pool Three rivals Calvisano in Brescia.

The Blues, who have won only two of their first seven Pro12 matches, secured a fifth straight win against the lowly Italians with scrum-half Lloyd Williams first to touch down in his 100th regional appearance.

Winger Tom James, flanker Ellis Jenkins, who was man of the match, full-back Dan Fish, winger Blaine Scully and centre Gavin Evans all went over before a late penalty try saw the Welsh side hit the 50-point mark.

Fly-half Rhys Patchell scored 11 points with the boot and Jarrod Evans chipped in with two conversions, while Filippo Buscema converted three penalties for Calvisano.

London Irish ran in eight tries to clinch a bonus point in a 48-10 home win against French Pool Five rivals Agen.

The home side led 24-3 at half-time courtesy of two tries from Gerard Ellis, while Johnny Williams and Joe Trayfoot also went over.

Two second-half tries from Alex Lewington helped maintain Irish's momentum with Rob McCusker and Sean Maitland also crossing. S ubstitute Felicien Vergnon scored Agen's only try.

Worcester Warriors made a winning start with a hard-fought 19-3 victory against French side La Rochelle in Pool Four.

Ryan Lamb converted four first-half penalties and converted Ben Howard's 78th-minute try in an error-strewn game at rain-lashed Sixways.

Connacht earned a bonus-point as they helped make history with a 31-14 win in freezing Siberia against Pool One rivals Enisei-STM, who became the first Russian team to take part in European competition.

Two AJ MacGinty penalties ensured a 6-0 half-time lead for the Irish side, who scored second-half tries through Niyi Adeolokun, John Muldoon, Darragh Leader and Rory Parata as the temperature dropped to -18C. Andrei Polivanov touched down twice for the Russians.

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