Former European champions Bath lost in France but a brave second-half fightback gives them an excellent chance of advancing to the Parker Pen Challenge Cup semi-finals.
John Connolly's men lost to Beziers 24-19 after trailing 3-24 at halftime in miserable conditions in front of 2,500 fans at Stade de la Mediterranee, but the Australian coach will be confident of overturning the deficit when he invites Beziers to the Recreation Ground for the return match next week.
The home side scored almost at will in the opening half, extending their lead to 21 points at the break on the back of tries to fullback Alain Bousquet and centre Gilluame Delmotte and a penalty try. Bath's only response was an Olly Barkley penalty goal.
Barkley added two more goals early in the second half as Bath began to string some passes together, but it was the 75th minute before they breached the Beziers try-line. Scotland winger Simon Danielli scored in the corner, and Barkley's sideline conversion gave visiting fans hope of an unlikely victory.
But Bath could add only another Barkley penalty goal as the French defence held firm. The winner of the tie play either Saracens or Montferrand in the semi-finals.
Just down the motorway at Narbonne, a superb first-half display from the Connacht backline set up a valuable 27-18 away win in the first leg of their Challenge Cup tie.
The 4,000 fans at Parc des Sports et de l'Amitie couldn't believe the halftime score of 3-24 after their side had enjoyed the majority of territory and possession.
Turnovers proved crucial for the home side as fullback Matt Mostyn, centre Darren Yapp and winger Conor McPhillips scored tries against the run of play - including McPhillips' effort from 80 metres out. The trusty boot of veteran fly-half Eric Elwood added all three conversions and all Narbonne had to show for 40 minutes of hard graft was a solitary Cedric Rosalen penalty goal.
The French club fought their way back into the match on the back of tries to backrower Gonzalo Longo and lock Olivier Olibeau as the home pack began to dominate, but the Irish province were too good a team to relinquish a 21-point lead.
Mark McHugh sealed the issue with a late penalty goal and Connacht take a nine-point lead into next weekend's second leg at the Sportsground. A win or an eight-point loss will take into the Cup semi-finals, where their likely opponents are NEC Harlequins.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.