Cheetahs’ Pro14 debut ended in disappointment as a ruthless Ulster ran out 42-19 victors, while Edinburgh made a winning start under Richard Cockerill.
South African side Cheetahs – joining from Super Rugby this term alongside compatriots Southern Kings – twice led in the first half through tries from Clayton Blommetjies and Makazole Mapimpi.
But, after Tommy Bowe had responded to Cheetahs’ first score, Alan O’Connor, Stuart McCloskey and Charles Piutau all touched down while Henco Venter was in the sin-bin for Cheetahs as Ulster accelerated clear at Kingspan Stadium.
Louis Ludik and Peter Nelson added further tries in the second half with Sergeal Petersen scoring for Cheetahs – who also had Aranos Coetzee yellow carded – between those five pointers.
Edinburgh are one point adrift in Conference B began life under Cockerill with a 20-10 victory at Cardiff Blues thanks to Duncan Weir’s terrific contribution with the boot and tries from Blair Kinghorn and Chris Dean.
The Blues defeated Edinburgh in the opening round 12 months ago, but Edinburgh look steelier in defence under Cockerill and they regained their composure having seen Cardiff restore parity from 10-0 through Josh Navidi’s concerted score and a Jarrod Evans penalty.
In Conference A, last year’s finalists Munster thrashed Benetton 34-3 after five first-half tries.
Jean Kleyn – who later added a sixth – was joined on the scoresheet by Tyler Bleyendaal, Darren Sweetnam, Alex Wootton and Andrew Conway in the opening 40 minutes and Benetton had no response.
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