Toulouse is back on top of the French Top 14 after a key away win in Paris over Racing-Metro in which Jerome Kaino wore the unfamiliar No 7 jersey.
Stade Toulousain won 34-29 to go 12-2-2 for the season, on 58 points, two clear of Clermont.
Charlie Faumuina and second five Pita Ahki started alongside Kaino, who turns 36 in a few weeks.
For its part, Racing-Metro has re-signed another 36-year-old, Kaino’s long-time All Blacks teammate Dan Carter, who loves Paris so much after winning the Top 14 there in 2016, that he is returning as a medical joker. Last seen on SKY Sports duty on Saturday night at Eden Park, Carter will cover the retirement of Pat Lambie, but there was concern for Scotland international Finn Russell, who did not return from an HIA in the defeat to Toulouse. Former Fiji, Canterbury and North Harbour No 10 Ben Volavola, who subbed Russell, will likely run the cutter in the meantime before Carter arrives.
Replacement Joe Rokocoko, now 35, scored a try, while Dominic Bird was also used as a sub for Racing-Metro, also known as Racing 92. The Parisians are sitting just outside the playoffs on the log, with a 9-7 record, so Carter will be expected to help haul them into the post-season.
La Rochelle moved up to third with a good 28-21 away win at Grenoble. Tawera Kerr-Barlow scored twice for the victors, including the last winning score. Ihaia West slotted four goals, while former Manu Samoa No 8 Faifili Levave also scored a try. Grenoble included Lolagi Visinia, Alaska Taufa, Taiasina Tuifua, Taleta Tupuola and 2018 Steelers giant Matt Vaai.
Agen defeated Toulon 19-10, leading to wing Julian Savea again incurring the wrath of boss Mourad Boudjellal, who virtually insinuated that Savea is free to look elsewhere for rugby employment. Lock Brian Alainu’uese and Liam Messam also featured for the Toulonnais. Sam Vaka, Paula Ngauamo and Tom Murday played for Agen.
Perpignan upset Montpellier for its first victory of the season, 28-10. Several players of New Zealand origin appeared for the Catalans, namely wing Tima Faingaanuku, Manu Leiataua, Michael Faleafa, Shahn Eru and Genesis Mamea.
Tim Nanai-Williams was at No 10 – meaning he could have helped with the Chiefs’ first five crisis had he still been in New Zealand – as Clermont hammered Seta Tamanivalu’s Bordeaux-Begles 40-15. George Moala was at centre for Les Jaunards.
Toa Halafihi scored a try for Benetton Treviso in the 25-19 win over Scarlets. Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara and Monty Ioane were on the wings for the Italian club. Fullback Johnny McNicholl’s brace was not enough for the Scarlets. Kieron Fonotia was at centre.
In England’s Gallagher Premiership, Lima Sopoaga came off the pine to kick two goals as Wasps won 29-22 at Bristol. Charlie Piutau also came off the bench to score a try for the home side, who handed starts to Siale Piutau, Alapati Leiua, John Afoa, Chris Vui, Steven Luatua and Jack Lam.
Mike FitzGerald and Brendon O’Connor could not prevent Leicester falling 33-10 at Saracens.
Chris Boyd’s Northampton Saints, who have signed Hurricanes centre Matt Proctor for next season, crushed Sale 67-17, with Ahsee Tuala scoring a try and Piers Francis kicking six conversions. Denny Solomona scored a try for the Sharks, while Bryn Evans was at lock
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