Scarlets made a miserable start to their Heineken Cup campaign, losing 49-16 at Clermont Auvergne after having Morgan Stoddart sent off shortly before half-time.
It had all looked so different when Scarlets made a bright start and their direct approach brought a try for the centre Jonathan Davies, which was converted by Rhys Priestland to put them 7-0 ahead inside five minutes.
But in a passionate encounter Stoddart was first sent to the sin-bin and then, after 37 minutes, was dismissed for holding on to the former All Black Morgan Parra just short of the line. Parra kicked the penalty to put the home side 16-13 ahead after Sitiveni Sivivatu had pulled them back into the match with a try that Parra converted.
When Clermont's pack forced a penalty try soon after the break, it was all up for Scarlets. Lee Byrne ran in an impressive try, Damien Chouly went over for the bonus point and Julien Bonnaire and Napolioni Nalaga made it a rout.
Quick thinking by back-row John Muldoon made all the difference for Connacht as they opened their campaign with an untidy 19-10 victory over Zebre in Parma. After good work from Mike McCarthy, Muldoon took a tap penalty and forced his way over from 10 metres. Dan Parks converted, and the Scotland fly-half kicked the rest of his side's points from penalties. Zebre scored a try late on through Filippo Ferrarini, the replacement flanker.
Bath and Worcester both returned victorious from their travels in the Amlin Challenge Cup. Bath went to Romania where they ran in five tries in a 40-17 victory over Bucuresti, while Worcester cruised through a bruising battle, thrashing Bizkaia Gernika 85‑5 in the Basque country.
Leading 23-7 lead at half-time, Bath picked up a real bonus with their academy fly-half Ollie Devoto, who has just turned 19, scoring their fourth try. Kane Palma-Newport added a fifth after Cristian Munteanu had reduced the arrears for Bucuresti.
Worcester's best score in European competition came through a cascade of 13 tries that saw them claim the bonus point well before half-time, when they led 40-0. At one stage, frayed tempers saw the contest reduced to 13-a-side.