Springboks star John Smit fired an ominous warning to Heineken Cup heavyweights Wasps and Munster after French challengers Clermont Auvergne flexed their muscles for a major European title assault.
Clermont travel to face 2006 European champions Munster next weekend, before hosting Heineken Cup holders Wasps on December 8.
And judging by Clermont's 48-21 Pool Five demolition of Llanelli Scarlets - semi-finalists last season - Smit and company could take some stopping.
South Africa's victorious World Cup captain made his debut off the bench as tries from Aurelien Rougerie (3), Julien Malzieu, Julien Bonnaire, Brock James
and Thomas Domingo secured a bonus-point success.
Smit said: ``These guys are hungry to win this tournament, and we've made a great start.
``This is one of the most professional outfits I have ever been involved with.
``I was taken by surprise by the speed of the game. We had good offloads and good skills. This is an exciting new chapter for me.''
Llanelli, who entertain Wasps next Saturday, trailed 20-7 at half-time and ultimately had to content themselves with touchdowns by Dafydd James, Dwayne
Peel and Regan King.
Scarlets rugby director Phil Davies said: ``We gave ourselves some real momentum towards the end, but it was too late to change the result.
``We will need to look at our set-piece for next weekend. We lost four or five lineout balls.''
Former Wales flanker Martyn Williams has ruled out any prospect of ending his international retirement, despite the appointment of new coach Warren Gatland.
Gatland, who officially takes the Wales reins on December 1, was among a 10,500 Arms Park crowd as two-try flanker Williams inspired Cardiff Blues to a
34-18 victory over Pool Three visitors Bristol.
Williams, an obvious choice as man-of-the-match following a brilliant performance, said: ``My decision is made. I am not going to go back on my
Cardiff trailed 13-3 just before half-time, but they then scored 31 unanswered points, with centre Jamie Robinson and flanker Maama Molitika also claiming
It effectively leaves Bristol needing to beat tournament favourites Stade Francais at the Memorial Stadium next Sunday - or face the prospect of a pool
Bristol head coach Richard Hill said: ``The players are angry with themselves for letting the lead slip, but there is a positive attitude they can go and beat
Saracens moved top of Pool Four, recording an anticipated bonus point success against Vicarage Road visitors Glasgow, but the final 33-31 scoreline was far
too close for comfort.
Saracens rugby director Alan Gaffney said: ``The attacking part of our game was very good and deserves to be rewarded, but the defensive part is leaving a
lot to be desired.
``It is not the structure, it is individual defence that is letting us down.
``The players have got to be accountable, and we will work very hard on it. We have to become much more ruthless and not concede soft tries.''
Hugh Vyvyan, Rod Penney, Ben Skirving and Kameli Ratuvou scored Saracens' tries, yet Glasgow secured a losing bonus point through three touchdowns and 16
points from the boot of fly-half Dan Parks.
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