This morning’s Northampton versus Bristol Gallagher Premiership contest is the sort that this Kiwis in Europe column just loves.
We had the two New Zealand head coaches in the competition – Chris Boyd of the Saints and Pat Lam of the Bears – going head to head in a Six Nations hiatus with no less than 13 players who have a New Zealand rugby connection.
Bristol prevailed 20-14, making a stirring comeback to hold fourth position in a Premiership table that is tight as a drum with Saracens now out of the playoffs picture. The Bears can partly thank a 61st minute try by replacement Henry Purdy, who is a not a Kiwi but did scores three tries in 10 outings for Otago in last season’s Mitre 10 Cup.
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Fullback Charlie Piutau was again the most dangerous back on the park, running for 87m from 16 carries, while Chris Vui pulled down a game-high six lineouts. Other Bears to feature were Alapati Leiua, John Afoa, Steven Luatua, Nathan Hughes and Jake Heenan.
Saints fielded Matt Proctor, Owen Franks, Teimana Harrison, Ben Franks and Ahsee Tuala. Boyd’s men still hold second place in the Premiership.
Exeter won 26-15 at Gloucester, which fielded Josh Hohneck and Tom Marshall.
London Irish’s Kiwi contingent of Waisake Naholo, Terence Hepetema and NZ-educated former Wallaby prop Sekope Kepu enjoyed a 29-15 away win over Harlequins.
Leicester’s Telusa Veainu scored a try to help his team defeat Wasps 18-9. Jordan Taufua was in the No 7 jersey for the Tigers. For the vanquished, second five Jimmy Gopperth slotted three penalty goals, playing outside Jacob Umaga. Brad Shields was used off the bench.
Saracens are proving a nuisance, despite their automatic relegation at season’s end, beating Sale 36-22. The Sharks fielded Bryn Evans and Denny Solomona.
Bath’s Jackson Willison enjoyed a narrow 22-21 win over Worcester’ Matt Moulds.
In the French Top 14, the struggles continued for defending champion Toulouse, edged 30-27 by Racing-Metro in Paris.
Ben Volavola, Ben Tameifuna, and Dominic Bird all played for the Parisians, while Pita Ahki scored a try for the visitors and Joe Tekori was sin binned.
Castres’ Maama Vaipulu helped his club defeat Agen 43-24. Appearing for the Agenais were JJ Taulagi, Sam Vaka, Paula Ngauamo and Tom Murday.
Stade Francais edged a La Rochelle side (21-20) that included Ihaia West, this time at fullback, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Victor Vito and Uini Atonio.
Former Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo crossed for a hat-trick in Montpellier’s narrow 31-29 win over Alofa Alofa’s Bayonne.
Tim Nanai-Williams, Fritz Lee and Loni Uhila all played in Clermont’s 23-20 victory at Pau, which fielded Ben Smith and Ziggy Fisi’ihoi.
Toulon’s Kiwi quartet of Bryce Heem, Brian Alainu’uese, Liam Messam and Julian Savea all tasted a 34-17 victory over So’otala Fa’aso’o’s Brive.
Ben Botica kicked three goals and Seta Tamanivalu scored a try as high-fliers Bordeaux-Begles beat Lyon 37-19. Toby Arnold, Rudi Wulf, and Charlie Ngatai, who kicked two penalty goals, all featured in the Lyonnais backline.
In the Guinness PRO14, Aki Seiuli’s Glasgow crushed Zebre 56-24. Junior Laloifi, who was binned, Josh Renton and Jimmy Tuivaiti all turned out for the Italians.
A try to Matt Faddes was not quite enough as Ulster went down 26-24 to Ospreys. Sean Reidy was on the side of the scrum for the Ulstermen.
Simon Hickey’s Edinburgh won 14-19 at Scarlets, for whom Sam Lousi and Kieron Fonotia featured.
A try to prop Michael Bent helped Leinster overcome the Cheetahs 36-12. Halfback Jamison Gibson-Park was used off the pine.
Dominic Robertson-McCoy’s Connacht blanked Cardiff Blues 29-0. Rey Lee-Lo, Filo Paulo and Nick Williams turned out for the Blues.
Full rounds of all three competitions will be played this weekend, despite the third round of the Six Nations.
Ian Foster answers questions put forward from RugbyPass’ fans:
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