Charlie Piutau may not be racing in the tries for Ulster but he is eating up the metres from fullback and often giving the last pass for his teammates.
The 26-year-old former All Black celebrated the news that his 2018-19 club, Bristol, has confirmed its Aviva Premiership status next season with a try and an assist in Ulster’s 32-20 Guinness PRO14 victory at Edinburgh over the weekend.
Piutau recorded just his second try of the season – his last came way back in September – but he has racked up over 1000m and is setting up his colleagues.
Bristol has won the English Championship and, under the coaching of Pat Lam, will rejoin the big guns in September with signings such as Steven Luatua and Piutau, the latter set to start a hefty contract at the west country club.
Ulster, coached by former All Black Jono Gibbes, has a game in hand and is still a chance for next month’s PRO14 playoffs.
Sean Reidy and Rodney Ah You both came off the bench for Ulster, while Phil Burleigh and Jordan Lay both started for Edinburgh.
Hadleigh Parkes’ Scarlets defeated Conference A leaders Glasgow 26-8. The latter, coached by Dave Rennie, fielded Callum Gibbins, Siua Halanukonuka and Lelia Masaga.
Kieron Fonotia and Ma’afu Fia enjoyed a 39-10 win over Dominic Robertson-McCoy’s Connacht.
Hooker Rhys Marshall scored a try in Munster’s 39-22 win over the Southern Kings.
In the French Top 14, Aaron Cruden’s Montpellier club holds a six-point lead with three rounds of the regular season to play, Nemani Nadolo scored a try in the decisive 40-24 win over La Rochelle, for whom Tawera Kerr-Barlow scored again. Hikairo Forbes and Victor Vito also started.
Racing-Metro is second after a key 17-13 win over Toulon. Joe Rokocoko, closing in on 35, started, while Ole Avei, Dan Carter and Ben Tameifuna were all used off the bench. For the visitors, Malakai Fekitoa scored a try and Ma’a Nonu wore the No 21 jersey.
An Alex Tulou try helped Castres to a 28-23 local derby win over Toulouse. Alongside him were David Smith and Maama Vaipulu. Charlie Faumuina and Joe Tekori turned out for Toulouse.
Colin Slade kicked six penalty goals for Pau but it was not enough to edge Bordeaux-Begles, who took a tight contest 19-18. Simon Hickey, Ed Fidow and Ben Volavola turned out for the victors, while Slade’s teammates included Daniel Ramsay, Conrad Smith, Frank Halai, Benson Stanley, Tom Taylor and Jamie Mackintosh.
Zak Taulafo’s Stade Francais pounded Clermont 50-13. Loni Uhila and Fritz Lee played for the latter.
Tom Murday’s Agen defeated Oyonnax 36-21. Ben Botica scored a try and kicked four goals for Oyonnax, in a desperate battle to avoid relegation. Quentin MacDonald, Hika Elliot and Rory Grice all started in the pack.
In the Aviva Premership, Bryce Heem ran for 121m to help Worcester to a 27-13 win over Newcastle. Ben Te’o and Jackson Willison formed the Warriors’ midfield. Nili Latu and Sinoti Sinoti played for the Falcons.
London Irish is desperate to avoid the drop and crushed Harlequins 35-5 at the Stoop, with Ben Franks, James Marshall and Asaeli Tikoirotuma all enjoying a crucial victory. Francis Saili, Mat Luamanu and Alofa Alofa played for Quins.
Sean Maitland scored a try in Saracens’ 63-13 dismantling of Northampton. It was a dark day for the Saints’ contingent of Ahsee Tuala, Nafi Tuitavake, Piers Francis, Teimana Harrison and Michael Paterson.
Leicester fullback Telusa Veainu was in sharp form, scoring a try in the Tigers’ 34-19 win at Bath. His teammates included Mike FitzGerald, Valentino Mapapalangi and Logovi’i Mulipola. Bath featured James Wilson, Kahn Fotuali’i and Auckland-born former Warriors NRL player Cooper Vuna.
Bryn Evans scored a try for Sale in the 28-27 win over Jimmy Gopperth’s Wasps. Gopperth landed four goals. Halani Aulika and TJ Ioane were replacements for the Sharks.
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