Leinster flyhalf Johnny Sexton kicked a last gasp penalty to earn European Cup champions Leinster a 16-all draw against debutants Montpellier at the Stade de la Mosson as the sides shared the points in a titanic battle on Saturday.
In Saturday's other early matches London Irish and Edinburgh fought out a tight match with the Scottish side pulling off a 20-19 victory outscoring their opponents by two tries to one with Lee Jones and Stuart McInally touching down for them.
Former champions Leicester cruised to a 28-12 victory in their away match with Italian side Aironi, scoring three tries.
However, the real drama was in France, where the hosts, Montpellier, battled ferociously and looked set to record a famous opening victory until the Irish province showed their European experience to force their way back into the game and level the scores with the final kick of the game.
Montpellier have struggled in the Top 14 this season, but were boosted by the return of their International stars and they dominated the game for large periods.
Scrumhalf Benoit Paillaugue opened Montpellier's European Cup account with a penalty after two minutes but that was soon cancelled out by last season's European Cup Final man of the match Sexton who kicked his first points of the 2011/12 campaign.
The Irish flyhalf then kicked the champions, Leinster, in front with his second penalty from 47-metres.
Powered on from their fanatical support Montpellier crossed for the opening try in fantastic fashion. The hosts broke from deep and as they won the footrace to a chip through, captain Fulgence Ouedraogo was fed the ball for the easiest of scores. Paillaugue added the extras and then another penalty before the interval to round-up a dominant first forty minutes.
The titanic battle continued at a furious pace in the second period and it again was Montpellier that struck first. With Paillaugue off the field, kicking duties fell to Trinh-Duc, and the French flyhalf who starred throughout the clash, had no problem extending his side's lead to ten points.
Leinster, famed for their fight-back ability then began edging their way back into the game. Using all their European experience they started pushing Montpellier back and controlling proceedings.
Replacement hooker Sean Cronin showed great pace and power to gab Leinster's only try and Sexton's conversion brought the scores to within three.
With the clock showing red, Sexton then cooly slotted his final penalty to earn his side a famous draw.
* Leicester Tigers kicked off their campaign with a well-earned victory over Aironi in Monza.
The former Champions raced into an early lead but Aironi forced their way back into the fixture, denying the visitors a bonus-point.
The Tigers have struggled for form in English Premiership, having been bit by injuries and International call-ups but they got off to a flyer in northern Italy, surging into a 13 v 0 lead thanks to a pair of quick-fire penalties from the boot of Toby Flood and a try from Tom Croft.
Richard Cockerill's men continued to threaten in attack and they clinched a second try shortly before the 25-minutes after Alesana Tuilagi took a short-ball off Flood and crashed over. The England flyhalf dissected the posts to bring the scores to 20-0 but Aironi quickly hit-back with a penalty.
They continued their resurgence with a second Luciano Orquera penalty on 33 minutes to bring the scores to 20-6 at the break.
Flood struck the uprights within two minutes of the restart but he made no mistake three minutes later to stretch Leicester's lead to 23-6.
Orquera quickly struck-back with his third penalty and following a sustained period of pressure he slotted another on 68 minutes to make it 23-12.
That appeared to stir the Tigers life but they could not break Aironi's unforgiving defence until it was too late.
Following some strong carrying by Thomas Waldrom, the visitors worked the overlap and Leicester captain Geordan Murphy threw a pin-point miss pass to fellow Irishman Niall Morris for a touchdown in the corner.
Saturday's scores and scorers!
London Irish 19-20 Edinburgh
For London Irish:
Pen: Homer 4
Tries: Jones, McInally
Cons: Leonard, Laidlaw
Pens: Leonard, Laidlaw
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Steven Shingler, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Dan Bowden (captain), 9 Ross Samson, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Bryn Evans, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 James Buckland, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Brian Blaney, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Faan Rautenbach, 19 James Sandford, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Joe Ansbro, 22 Adrian Jarvis, 23 Paul Hodgson.
Edinburgh: 15 Jim Thompson, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick de Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 David Denton, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Esteban Lozada, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford (captain), 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Steven Lawrie, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 James King, 23 Tom Brown.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Aironi 12-28 Leicester Tigers
Pens: Orquera 4
For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Morris, Tuilagi, Croft
Cons: Flood 2
Pens: Flood 3
Aironi: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 Sinoti Sinoti, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Frans Viljoen, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Nicola Cattina, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Fabio Staibano, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Santamaria, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Lorenzo Romano, 19 Josh Sole, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Naas Olivier, 23 Gilberto Pavan.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Andy Forsyth, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Jules Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 George Skivington, 20 Steve Mafi, 21 Micky Young, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Scott Hamilton.
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Montpellier 16-16 Leinster
Pens: Paillaugue 2, Trinh-Duc
Pens: Sexton 2
Montpellier: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Yoan Audrin, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Masi Matadigo, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Mickael Demarco, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Na'ama Leleimalefaga.
Replacements: 16 Rassie Jansen Van Vuuren, 17 Mikheil Nariashvili, 18 George Jgenti, 19 Drikus Hancke, 20 Rémy Martin, 21 Julien Tomas, 22 Paul Bosch, 23 Martin Bustos Moyano.
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Isa Nacewa, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Damian Browne, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke Van Der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Nathan White, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Eoin O'Malley.
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Scarlets v Castres Olympique
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jon Edwards, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Rhys Thomas, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Phil John, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Richard Pugh, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Daniel Evans.
Castres: 15 Romain Teulet, 14 Matthieu Nicolas, 13 Paul Bonnefond, 12 Romain Cabannes, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Rémi Tales, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Iosefa Tekori, 7 Steve Malonga, 6 Chris Masoe, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Matthias Rolland, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Anton Peikrishvili.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Michaël Coetzee, 18 Karena Wihongi, 19 Scott Murray, 20 Jannie Bornman, 21 Thomas Sanchou, 22 Pierre Bernard, 23 Pierre-Manuel Garcia.
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Ospreys v Biarritz Olympique
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 George Stowers, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Joe Bearman, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Sonny Parker.
Biarritz: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Iain Balshaw, 10 Julien Peyrelongue, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Raphael Lakafia, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Benoit Guyot, 5 Erik Lund, 4 Jérôme Thion, 3 Sylvain Marconnet, 2 Benoit August, 1 Fabien Barcella.
Replacements: 16 Arnaud Heguy, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 19 Pelu Taele, 20 Florian Faure, 21 Romain Terrain, 22 Benoît Baby, 23 Ilikena Bolakoro.
Referee: Andrew Small (England)
Ulster v Clermont Auvergne
Ulster: 15 Simon Danielli, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Nevin Spence, 23 Adam D'Arcy.
Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Regan King, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 David Skrela, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Elvis Vermeulen, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Lionel Faure.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Clément Ric, 18 Mattheus Kotze, 19 Jason White, 20 Julien Bardy, 21 Kevin Senio, 22 Brock James, 23 Jean-Marcel Buttin.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Munster v Northampton Saints
Munster: 15 Johne Murphy, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Danny Barnes, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Denis Hurley, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Denis Fogarty, 17 John Ryan, 18 John Hayes, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Denis Leamy, 21 Tomas O'Leary, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Will Chambers.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Vas Artemyev, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Steve Myler, 23 George Pisi.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
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