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Kiwis carving up the north - La Rochelle hot to trot

Rene Ranger. Photo / Getty Images

Steve Hansen’s old French club has never won the Top 14 nor challenged in Europe.

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But La Rochelle’s supporters have cause to dream after what was described as a “masterclass” in their 49-29 defeat of Wasps in round three of European Champions Cup action.

All Blacks halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow only linked up with the club last week, so was not thrust into action at the weekend, but did soak up the match in the stands.

However, the New Zealand contingent at Stade Rochelais was again to the fore. No 8 Victor Vito made 21 runs, three tackles and gave a try assist, while lock Jason Eaton and prop Uini Atonio were also in the starting XV. Hikairo Forbes and Rene Ranger were both injected off the bench. The club is now 3-0 in Pool 1, and leads the Top 14 by two points nearly halfway through the season.

Jimmy Gopperth, at second five, kicked two goals for Wasps, who have the return game against La Rochelle in Coventry this weekend.

Elsewhere, Ulster duo Charlie Piutau and Sean Reidy enjoyed a fine 17-5 away win at Harlequins, who fielded Alofa Alofa and Mat Luamanu.

Fullback Jayden Hayward scored a try for Treviso in the 28-33 loss to Scarlets. Bay of Plenty wing Monty Ioane wore the No 11 jersey for the Italians, while Whetu Douglas entered off the bench. Johnny McNicholl and Hadleigh Parkes turned out for Scarlets.

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Tries to Ma’a Nonu and Alby Mathewson helped Toulon to a 24-20 victory over Todd Blackadder’s Bath, whose Kiwis were Paul Grant, Kahn Fotuali’i and Jack Wilson.

Maama Vaipulu scored the match-winning try, in the 77th minute, for Castres to edge Racing-Metro 16-13, for whom Joe Rokocoko and Ben Tameifuna started. David Smith was, as ever, on the left wing for Castres.

A try to centre Kieron Fonotia helped his Ospreys to beat Northampton 43-32. Dylan Hartley and wing Ahsee Tuala scored tries for Saints. Piers Francis and Michael Paterson also featured.

A try to hooker Rhys Marshall helped see Munster to a 33-10 win over Leicester, whose numbers included Telusa Veainu, Mike FitzGerald, Valentino Mapapalangi and Logovi’i Mulipola.

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In the battle of the Kiwi coaches, Vern Cotter’s Montpellier won a fine 29-22 result at Dave Rennie’s Glasgow. Aaron Cruden and Nemani Nadolo were at Nos 10 and 11 respectively for the French club, while Samuela Vunisa and Siua Halanukonuka featured for the Warriors.

Saracens versus Clermont was postponed due to adverse weather, while Leinster, featuring captain Isa Nacewa, who kicked two goals, Jamison Gibson-Park and Michael Bent, beat Thomas Waldrom’s Exeter 18-8.

In the European Challenge Cup, Pau rested several of its Kiwis, but Benson Stanley, Peter Saili and Daniel Ramsay all got the job done, 40-21, over Agen.

Paul Williams, at 34, in the twilight of his long career, was at No 12 as Stade Francais beat Russian club Krasny Yar 39-24. Ziggy Fisi’ihoi scored a try off the bench for the Parisians, while Tony Ensor also came off the pine.

There were, unusually, no New Zealanders involved in the Dragons’ 15-0 victory over Enisei.

Hika Elliot’s try was insufficient as Oyonnax fell 35-14 to Worcester. Denny Solomona’s Sale blanked Cardiff Blues 24-0. Rey Lee-Lo, Gareth Anscombe and Nick Williams played for the Blues.

Gloucester’s Kiwi quartet of John Afoa, Josh Hohneck, Jeremy Thrush and Willi Heinz helped the West Country club to a 33-26 win at Zebre.

Phil Burleigh, newly capped by Scotland, scored a brace for Edinburgh in its 50-20 win over London Irish. Mike Coman scored a try for the Exiles, while former Auckland lock William Lloyd was in the second-row.

Connacht have fielded an Ahki and an Aki in the midfield for the first time. Pita Ahki and Bundee Aki combined, with Tom McCartney off the bench, to help the Irish province to a 38-31 victory at Brive.

Toulouse beat Lyon 30-23 in a dreary Thursday night clash, Carl Axtens, Jarrod Poi and Joe Tekori emerging the victors over Josh Bekhuis, Mike Harris, making his first start of the season, and Rudi Wulf.

Newcastle dispatched Bordeaux-Begles 52-24. The latter had Fa’asiu Fuatai on the wing, with bench support from former Waikato hooker Ole Avei and Ben Volavola, who kicked a goal.

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