Toulouse staged an impressive second-half comeback to open their European Champions Cup campaign with a hard-fought 25-20 victory over Gloucester.

Premiership side Gloucester led 20-9 at the break, Joe Simpson crossing twice as the hosts held sway in the opening 40 minutes at Kingsholm.

Both were impressive finishes from the scrum-half that saw him break clear from inside his own territory. Danny Cipriani landed each conversion attempt plus a pair of penalties, giving Gloucester a useful lead at the midway stage of the Pool 5 clash.

However, four-time winners Toulouse roared back in the second half, scoring 16 points without reply to prevail on the road.

Thomas Ramos - who split the posts twice in the first period to add to Zack Holmes drop goal - and Romain Ntamack kicked a penalty apiece to close the gap before the Top 14 side struck the decisive blow just after the hour.

Scrum-half Sebastien Bezy darted over from close range after excellent work from his pack, leaving Ramos with an easy conversion to put his team ahead.

The full-back slotted over a further three points with 12 minutes remaining, giving Toulouse a five-point cushion they retained through to the final whistle.

Alex Sanderson quoted popstar Taylor Swift to encapsulate Saracens' mentality this week, with the Premiership champions putting their off-field issues to one side to triumph at Gloucester.

Sarries returned to action on Saturday for the first time since they were docked 35 Premiership points and fined £5.36million for breaching salary cap regulations in each of the past three seasons.

The punishments are subject to review, with the club announcing their intention to appeal, and the team responded on the field in impressive fashion.

Sarries defeated Gloucester 21-12 at Kingsholm, where a number of rival fans were reported to have travelled to revel in the downfall of the country's leading team.

But coach Sanderson – part of director of rugby Mark McCall's backroom staff - provoked a reaction at full-time as he indicated towards the scoreboard as the home crowd jeered victorious Sarries.

He offered a light-hearted explanation to BT Sport in the aftermath, surprisingly using Swift's hit track Shake It Off.

"To quote the immortal words of Taylor Swift - haters gonna hate, hate, hate, players gonna play," he told BT Sport.

"I don't mean to belittle the scenario - I don't want to at all - but that's just our mentality. We've got to accept the hate we're going to receive. We're going to crack on and just play."

Sanderson does not believe Sarries should have been on the end of such anger from the rest of the Premiership, yet he added the travelling team had been motivated as a result.

"Yeah, we've used it, we've used the anger this week to fuel us," he said. "You can't use that for a full season because of the negative energy.

"We've got to go on, crack on, look strategically at what we're going to do this season and how we're going about it. This week, I can't be more impressed with the boys' application in the week and on the field."

Premiership champions Saracens put their off-field troubles behind them for 80 minutes to beat Gloucester 21-12 at Kingsholm on Saturday.

Sarries were this week docked 35 Premiership points and fined £5.36million for breaching salary cap regulations in each of the past three seasons.

The punishments are subject to review, with the club announcing their intention to appeal, and so they came into this match just a point behind Gloucester.

There were reports rival fans would flock to Gloucester to revel in the downfall of the country's best team, who were greeted with jeers as they ran out.

Supporters in the stands could be seen wearing hats reading "-26" - Sarries' points total at kick-off taking the deduction into account.

But while director of rugby Mark McCall told BT Sport ahead of the game the players had been "shocked" by the decision, the visitors gathered themselves to enjoy the better of the early stages.

An opening try, predictably met with boos, was deserved for Nick Tompkins after 25 minutes, although Gloucester responded in impressive fashion through Tom Marshall, who chipped the ball through and dribbled it over the line to dot down.

Manu Vunipola's boot continued to plunder precious points for the champions, while Ben Earl also crossed, meaning the late Gloucester pressure that led to Lewis Ludlow's try counted for little.

The four points secured on the road may bolster a Sarries survival bid if their points deduction stands, but they climb to second for now, with Bristol Bears - fourth and three points back – still to play on Sunday.

Early leaders Northampton Saints came unstuck at bottom club Bath, losing 22-13.

Saints' first defeat of the season came despite a fast start, hampered by Ben Franks and Paul Hill spending time in the sin bin late in the second half, allowing Bath – who had Aled Brew sent off - to score while the visitors were down to 13 men.

Elsewhere, Worcester Warriors won 19-14 at Harlequins in Saturday's other top-flight fixture in England.

Manu Vunipola kicked a last-gasp penalty to secure a dramatic 16-13 win for Saracens over London Irish at Allianz Park in the Premiership on Saturday.

On a day when cousins Billy and Mako suffered Rugby World Cup final heartache with England, Vunipola was the hero for the reigning champions – but only after he flirted with playing the role of villain.

Mark McCall's side were 8-6 ahead at the break, Alex Lozowski's penalty and a try from Titi Lamositele coming between a pair of three-pointers from the boot of Stephen Myler.

Irish initially turned the tables after the break as Albert Tuisue dotted down at the end of a driving maul and Myler added the extras. 

But, with time running out, Ben Earl forced his way over to tie it up and, though Vunipola was wayward with a twice-taken conversion, he split the posts with a penalty that proved to be the last action of the game.

In the other two games, both Leicester Tigers and Wasps picked up their first wins of the season.

The Tigers dished out a first defeat of the campaign to Gloucester, triumphing 16-13, while Wasps overcame Bath 30-22.

Last season's Premiership semi-finalists Northampton Saints and Gloucester continued strong starts to the new campaign with wins on Saturday.

Northampton claimed an impressive victory over champions Saracens last time out but had to wait until the second half against Worcester Warriors this week to move clear and claim a 35-16 bonus-point success.

Saints were 9-6 down at half-time and went over five times in the second period to triumph, with George Furbank crossing twice.

At Gloucester, on the day England beat the All Blacks to reach the Rugby World Cup final, Joe Simpson, a one-cap Red Rose international, and Tom Marshall, a New Zealander, were each at the double for the hosts.

The duo each crossed in both halves as Gloucester cruised to a 25-9 victory over Wasps, who had Malakai Fekitoa sent to the sin bin early in the second period.

Simpson was facing former club Wasps for the first time since his move at the start of this season.

Gloucester and Northampton sit level on nine points at the top of the Premiership as the only undefeated sides after two games.

London Irish, who won at Wasps on their return to the top flight last week, were given a reality check in going down 41-7 at home to Sale Sharks.

There were six tries for visitors Sale, as Akker van der Merwe, Denny Solomona, Marland Yarde, Josh Beaumont, Robert du Preez and Rohan Janse van Rensburg making hay.

Bristol Bears also failed to follow up an opening victory, with Harlequins getting their first win of the campaign 22-17.

England centre Joe Marchant crossed for Quins' only try, as Marcus Smith crucially kicked 17 points.

James Grayson's late penalty snatched a 27-25 win for Northampton Saints at champions Saracens as Exeter Chiefs started the Premiership season with a narrow win over Harlequins.

Saints led 21-16 at half-time following tries from David Ribbans, Rory Hutchinson and Henry Taylor.

The European Champions Cup holders looked set to edge it when Ben Spencer slotted over his sixth penalty of the match with four minutes remaining, but there was a final twist to the tale.

Grayson stepped up for a shot at goal in the closing stages and made no mistake, sealing Northampton's first away win over Saracens in three years.

Exeter, runners-up last season, got their league campaign under way with a 22-19 success over Quins at Sandy Park.

Jonny Hill scored the Chiefs' only try in the first half and Joe Simmonds booted 17 points as Gabriel Ibitoye's double proved to be in vain.

Worcester Warriors were 24-16 winners over Leicester Tigers, while Gloucester came out on top 18-16 at Sale Sharks.

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