There was a surprise opening game defeat for Heineken Cup holders Leinster on Friday as Ryan Lamb's late penalty saw London Irish snatch a 12-9 victory in their Group Six clash. Lamb kept his cool with his 80th-minute kick to allow the Guinness Premiership side to triumph against their Irish hosts in a low-scoring affair. The London Irish coach Toby Booth said: "We won a game in the backyard of a very difficult place to come against the defending champions that are in good form.
"We've snuck it at the end and I think the enthusiasm with which the boys celebrated is purely out of respect for Leinster because they know how hard it is to come here and get anything." Jonathan Sexton put Leinster into a third-minute lead with a penalty, with Peter Hewat levelling the scores soon after. Sexton regained the lead for the Irish champions on 12 minutes only for Hewat to convert London Irish's second penalty to level at 6-6 at half-time.
Lamb put the Exiles into the lead for the first time with the first of his successful kicks after the hour mark, with Sexton responding to set up a nervy final five minutes. Lamb, though, was to have the last word with a thumping kick from just inside the Leinster half. In the night's other two games Ulster opened their campaign with a valuable 26-12 home win over Bath and Nicky Robinson's late penalty saved Gloucester, who ran out 19-17 winners over Newport Gwent Dragons.
Today's action sees last year's runners-up Leicester begin their campaign with a home game with Ospreys at Welford Road in Pool Three, while in Pool Five Toulouse entertain Sale. * With agencies