Kiwis in Europe - Woodward firing for Gloucester
It may be nearly two years since we have seen Jason Woodward in New Zealand rugby, but he is still marking his mark on the game in the north.
After playing a key role in the Hurricanes’ first, and only, Super Rugby title in 2016, he played the 2016-17 season at Bristol, and is now just down the road with Gloucester.
The 27-year-old fullback scored a try for his club in the weekend’s 21-20 Aviva Premiership defeat to Newcastle, the west country club’s first at home this season. Other Kiwis in the Gloucester mix were Tom Marshall, John Afoa, Josh Hohneck, Motu Matu’u and Willi Heinz. The Falcons, who are swiftly ascending the table, fielded Sinoti Sinoti, Nili Latu and Tane Takalua.
Sale won 34-25 at Northampton, thanks mainly to a first half hat-trick to wing Denny Solomona, whose teammates included Bryn Evans and Halani Aulika.
Michael Paterson scored a try for Saints, while Piers Francis kicked four goals. Others involved included Ken Pisi, Teimana Harrison, Ahsee Tuala and Nafi Tuitavake.
Four games were postponed a day due to the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ weather bomb.
Harlequins, fresh from formally cementing an alliance with New Zealand Rugby, beat Todd Blackadder’s Bath 20-5. Francis Saili, Mat Luamanu and Alofa Alofa featured for Quins, while Kahn Fotuali’i and James Wilson were the Bath halves.
Two tries to fullback Telusa Veainu helped Leicester to a 34-5 win over Worcester, for whom Bryce Heem and Jackson Willison played. Logovi’i Mulipola, Mike FitzGerald and Brendon O’Connor also ran out for the Tigers.
The weather curtailed play in the Guinness PRO14, with several matches postponed.
The only game that featured New Zealanders was Connacht’s 25-26 loss to the Cheetahs. Pita Ahki, Tom McCartney and Dominic Robertson-McCoy played for the Irish province.
In the French Top 14, Luke McAlister came off the pine to see Clermont through to a 21-17 victory over La Rochelle, whose ranks featured Uini Atonio, Jason Eaton, Victor Vito, Hikairo Forbes and Rene Ranger.
Ben Botica was amongst the points for Oyonnax, who defeated Tony Ensor’s Stade Francais 33-27. Botica scored a try and kicked five goals for a haul of 18 points. Hika Elliot, again at blindside flanker, scored a try. Quentin MacDonald was the starting hooker.
Joe Tekori’s Toulouse celebrated the August arrival of Jerome Kaino by beating Bordeaux-Begles 25-19 away from home. Simon Hickey kicked a goal for the vanquished, while Ed Fidow and Ben Volavola also saw game time.
Tom Murday’s Agen upset leaders Montpellier 31-29. Aaron Cruden kicked a goal for the latter, while Jarrad Hoeata was shown a red card after just six minutes.
A try and four goals, including a telling late conversion, by Colin Slade saw Pau to a 29-27 win at Castres. Alongside him in the green and whites were the midfield combination of Conrad Smith and Benson Stanley, and replacement prop Jamie Mackintosh.
Castres fielded David Smith, Alex Tulou and Maama Vaipulu.
Dan Carter slotted two conversions as Racing-Metro moved up to second with a 17-13 win over Brive. Ben Tameifuna and Oli Avei also played for the Parisians.
Mike Harris’ five penalty goals were central to Lyon’s 15-6 victory over Toulon. Toby Arnold, Rudi Wulf and Taiasina Tuifua all turned out for the Lyonnais, while Toulon sent out Alby Mathewson, Ma’a Nonu and Malakai Fekitoa.
This weekend sees round 20 of the Top 14, while there is just one catch-up game in the PRO14, and the Aviva Premiership breaks for the final two rounds of the Six Nations.
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