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TOP 14    

Cruden no joke(r) for Montpellier

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TOP 14    

Aaron Cruden no joke(r) for Montpellier

Total Kiwis: 29

Kiwis in France’s Top 14 are proving very valuable as their clubs negotiate this difficult period without their Rugby World Cup players.

Aaron Cruden is doing all he can as the medical joker for Montpellier. The former All Blacks No 10, said to be eyeing up a 2020 contract with the Chiefs in Super Rugby, scored 11 points from five goals as Montpellier easily accounted for Pau (43-22) in the second round of the 2019-20 Top 14.

Inside him was former Manu Samoa and Bath halfback Kahn Fotuali’i. Former Fiji and Crusaders and wing Nemani Nadolo scored a try for the victors.

The sole member of Pau’s Kiwi contingent to play was former All Blacks midfielder Benson Stanley.

Lyon is top of the log after a 22-12 win over defending champion Toulouse. Former All Blacks and Chiefs No 12 Charlie Ngatai kicked a goal for the Lyonnais, while Toby Arnold was at fullback.

Toulouse has made an 0-2 start to the season, which will not please Jerome Kaino, who wore the No 7 jersey, Charlie Faumuina, Pita Ahki and replacement Joe Tekori.

Dominic Bird’s Racing 92 defeated Castres 23-14.

No less than eight Kiwis, or those with solid New Zealand rugby connections, featured in Clermont’s 34-30 win at Bayonne.

The home side fielded the 38-year former Manu Samoa prop and Top 14 veteran Census Johnston, plus the former Harlequins duo of centre Alofa Alofa and lock Mat Luamanu.

Les Jaunards included Loni Uhila, Fritz Lee, George Moala, who scored a crucial try, Isaia Toeava, operating back at centre, and replacement and former Manu Samoa loosie Faifili Levave.

Tom Murday and Sam Vaka enjoyed a 16-10 Agen victory over Brive, which fielded former NZ Schools captain and Counties Manukau Steelers loose forward So’otala Fa’aso’o.

The Kiwi trio of Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Uini Atonio and Ihaia West helped their La Rochelle club edge Stade Francais 28-26.

Bordeaux-Begles is equal top of the table with Lyon after dispatching a Toulon outfit missing as many as 17 players 34-12. Seta Tamanivalu and Ben Botica both entered the fray off the bench for the victors.

Julian Savea was back on the wing for Toulon, while Liam Messam was used as a replacement.

Toulon hosts Lyon this Saturday in a vital clash which should feature several Kiwis, while Toulouse will hope to kick-start its defence of the Bouclier de Brennus on Sunday at home against Racing.

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Aaron Cruden no joke(r) for Montpellier