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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.