Kiwis carving up the north - blasts from the past
European action returned to the domestic scene over the weekend, with the European Cup taking a break for the Aviva Premiership, Top 14 and Pro 14 to continue. There were more than a few New Zealanders in action, as anticipation builds for the All Black match against the Barbarians this weekend.
Here’s some of the key performers:
Brendon Leonard, Ospreys
A real blast from the past here, with the former All Black and Waikato halfback coming off the bench to score a try in Ospreys’ 28-14 win over Dragons. Leonard has been at Swansea for the past three seasons, after leaving NZ to play in Italy in 2013. He was joined on the scoresheet by prop Ma’afu Fia, who won a Super Rugby title with the Highlanders.
Matt Luamanu, Harlequins
While Quins were said to be chasing Wellington’s Julian Savea, it was another Wellingtonian that helped them to a high-scoring 41-35 win over Worcester in the Aviva Premiership. Big number eight Luamanu had a huge game, scoring a try, making 25 metres off 13 carries and amassing 15 tackles. Former Chief and Maori All Black Jackson Willison did his best for the opposing Warriors, but it was in vain as Quins ended up with the victory.
Jimmy Gopperth, Wasps
Another Wellington boy makes the list, with the Wasps first five notching up 16 points with the boot in their 38-22 win over Northampton Saints. He also made 45 metres off five runs at the line, and had to do a bit of work on defence with 13 tackles. There were a couple of familiar faces lining up against him for the Saints, former Counties fullback Ahsee Tuala scored a try and Blues first five Piers Francis kicked four penalties (OK, I know Francis is an Englishman but he spent long enough in NZ for us to kind of consider him one of us).
Hikairo Forbes, La Rochelle
Remember this guy? Unless you’re a die-hard Waikato fan, probably not – he last played for the Mooloos way back in 2011, but the hooker managed to score a try for La Rochelle against Toulouse in their Top 14 clash. Forbes also made five carries for 24 metres, and put in seven tackles for good measure in the 37-21 win.
Toby Arnold, Lyon
The former All Black Sevens specialist has found a grateful home in Lyon, where he played his part in thrashing Oyonnax 52-18. He scored a try, ran 58 metres off four carries and made six tackles. Across the park from him was former North Harbour first five Ben Botica, who still managed to score a try, conversion and penalty in his side’s heavy defeat.
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