The southern French life seems to be agreeing with Malakai Fekitoa.
The 25-year-old former All Black, whose replacement at the Highlanders, Rob Thompson, is making a good fist of that No 13 jersey, scored two tries in Toulon’s 49-0 French Top 14 shutout of Clermont this morning.
Fekitoa, who arrived in November at Stade Mayol after an inconsistent Mitre 10 Cup campaign with Auckland, is battling for a midfield berth with Ma’a Nonu and Mathieu Bastareaud at Toulon, now lying fourth on the Top 14 log. Former All Blacks halfback Alby Mathewson came off the bench for the victors. Clermont fielded Luke McAlister, at first five, Isaia Toeava and Loni Uhila.
Toulon travel to Limerick to face Munster in this weekend’s crunch European Champions Cup quarter-final.
Nemani Nadolo’s Montpellier crushed Castres 45-7. Alex Tulou and the yellow-carded Maama Vaipulu played for the latter.
Dominiko Waqaniburotu’s Brive edged Agen 15-12.
Toulouse, with Charlie Faumuina and Joe Tekori off the bench, won 37-33 at Stade Francais.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow scored a try for La Rochelle in the 31-20 win over Bordeaux-Begles. Kerr-Barlow’s teammates included Uini Atonio and Hikairo Forbes. Ed Fidow and Simon Hickey appeared for the Bordeaux club.
Four conversions to Tom Taylor helped Pau to a 33-12 victory over Oyonnax. Conrad Smith, who last week announced he was soon to retire from all rugby, was at centre, while Daniel Ramsay and Jamie Mackintosh were in the Pau pack.
Roimata Hansell-Pune, Quentin MacDonald, Hika Elliot and Rory Grice all played for Oyonnax.
Racing-Metro beat Lyon 24-22, despite yellow cards to Census Johnston and Ben Tameifuna. Anthony Tuitavake and Ole Avei also featured.
In the Guinness PRO14, Ospreys, for whom Kieron Fonotia and Ma’afu Fia appeared, beat Leinster 32-18. Michael Bent and Jamison Gibson-Park both entered the fray off the bench for Leinster.
Rhys Marshall’s Munster defeated Scarlets 19-7.
Charlie Piutau’s Ulster fell 35-17 to Cardiff Blues, for whom Nick Williams, Willis Halaholo and Rey Lee-Lo all started.
Marty Banks was in prime form at No 10 for Treviso, who edged the Southern Kings 36-35 in the Republic. He scored a try and kicked five goals for 16 points. Alongside him were Jayden Hayward, Monty Ioane, Hame Faiva, Nasi Manu and Michael Tagicakibau.
Connacht, with Tom McCartney and Dominic Robertson-McCoy in the ranks, fell 29-22 to Edinburgh, who fielded Simon Berghan, John Hardie, Jordan Lay and Phil Burleigh.
Former All Blacks wing Lelia Masaga and Callum Gibbins scored tries in Glasgow’s 68-7 win over James Tucker’s Zebre. Siua Halanukonuka came off the bench for Dave Rennie’s team.
In the Aviva Premiership, a late Paul Grant try, from a Taulupe Faletau thrust and offload, appeared to have given Bath a late home victory over Exeter Chiefs. But a late penalty goal to the visitors saw them steal the points at 20-18. Kahn Fotuali’i and James Wilson were at Nos 9 and 12 respectively for Todd Blackadder’s men.
Sinoti Sinoti and Nili Latu played in Newcastle’s 25-22 win over Northampton, a victory that moves the Falcons further up the table and has them thinking about the glory days of 1997-98 when Pat Lam was roaming free. Nafi Tuitavake scored a try for Saints, while Piers Francis and Ahsee Tuala were also in the backline.
Three goals to James Marshall were not enough to prevent his London Irish going down 33-29 to Gloucester. Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Ben Franks also featured for the Exiles.
Tom Marshall’s two tries for Gloucester ensured he got one-up on his brother. With him were Jason Woodward, Willi Heinz, Josh Hohneck, John Afoa, Motu Matu’u and Jeremy Thrush.
Denny Solomona scored a try for Sale in the 58-25 hiding dished out to Worcester. Bryn Evans was at lock for the Sharks. Jackson Willison scored a double for the Warriors. Outside him were Ben Te’o, back from Six Nations duty, and Bryce Heem.
Blair Cowan and Sean Maitland turned out for Saracens in their 24-11 win over Harlequins. Alofa Alofa, Mat Luamanu and Francis Saili played for the latter.
Leicester moved up to fifth position after a narrow 16-15 victory over Wasps, for whom Jimmy Gopperth kicked a penalty goal. Telusa Veainu copped a yellow card for the Tigers, while Mike FitzGerald, Valentino Mapapalangi and Logovi’i Mulipola also appeared.
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