Steven Luatua is testimony to the exquisite skill that the Bristol Bears bring to some of their work but he will need to lead with the hard edge if his team is to challenge the top six in this season’s Gallagher Premiership.
The former All Black and now Bristol captain showed his wares with a nice over the top offload for Luke Morahan’s first-half try against Gloucester at Kingsholm after a nicely judged grubber by Ian Madigan. Luatua was prominent in a beaten pack, but was often to be found on the fringes when the Bears sought to spread the ball.
The Bears dominated the first spell, but there was a lot of east-west movement rather than north-south and Pat Lam’s charges wilted as Gloucester soaked up the pressure before applying the clinical touches.
Jason Woodward and Josh Hohneck are now 3-0 in the Premiership after this west country derby. Alongside Luatua were Siale Piutau, Tusi Pisi, John Afoa, Chris Vui and Jack Lam.
Jackson Willison and Anthony Perenise enjoyed a good away win for Bath, 37-31 over Harlequins.
Sean Maitland’s Saracens won 38-27 at Northampton, despite tries to Piers Francis, Ben Franks and Dylan Hartley for the Saints. Ahsee Tuala and Teimana Harrison also featured.
Bryce Heem’s Worcester went down 23-20 at home to Newcastle, for whom Sinoti Sinoti and Tane Takalua scored tries. Logovi’i Mulipola, who played for Hawke’s Bay in 2011 and subsequently for Manu Samoa, was at tighthead prop.
In the French Top 14, Toulouse tipped over Racing-Metro 30-17, despite a Joe Tekori yellow card. Alongside him were Charlie Faumuina, Jerome Kaino, Carl Axtens and Pita Ahki. Racing’s ranks included Ole Avei, Ben Volavola and Census Johnston.
Agen’s Sam Vaka and Tom Murday tasted a 22-17 victory against Bordeaux-Begles, who included George Tilsley and Luke Braid.
Two tries to No 8 Alex Tulou helped Castres to a 29-13 win over Taiasina Tuifua’s Grenoble. David Smith was again on the left wing for the defending champs.
George Moala, Fritz Lee and Loni Uhila all played for Clermont in the 27-23 away win over Pau, for whom Colin Slade scored a try and kicked three goals. Replacement Tom Taylor also kicked a goal, while Benson Stanley, Daniel Ramsay and Jamie Mackintosh all featured.
Lyon sent out an ominous warning to the rest of the Top 14 with a 55-13 dismantling of Montpellier. Charlie Ngatai crossed for two tries, and Toby Arnold for a single. Aaron Cruden, back from injury, slotted three goals for Montpellier.
Ziggy Fisi’ihoi’s Stade Francais heaped further pain on Toulon to the tune of 37-10. Julian Savea copped a yellow card, while Malakai Fekitoa and Liam Messam are finding the going tough for the red and blacks early in 2018-19.
Four goals to Ihaia West and a try to Hikairo Forbes helped land La Rochelle a 37-10 win over a Perpignan team that included Michael Faleafa and Shahn Eru. La Rochelle also featured Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Uini Atonio and Victor Vito.
In the Guinness PRO14, Sean Reidy’s Ulster beat the Southern Kings 28-7.
Jimmy Tuivaiti’s Zebre accounted for Cardiff Blues 26-24, despite a try and four goals to Gareth Anscombe. Rey Lee-Lo and Nick Williams also played for the Blues.
Rhys Marshall enjoyed starting for Munster at rake so much that he scored a double in the 49-13 win over Ospreys.
Simon Berghan’s Edinburgh defeated Bundee Aki’s Connacht 17-10, while a brace to Jamison Gibson-Park helped Leinster crush Brandon Nansen’s Dragons 52-10. Callum Gibbins scored a try in Glasgow’s 52-24 hiding of the Cheetahs.
Kieron Fonotia and Johnny McNicholl scored tries in Scarlets’ 38-29 defeat of Treviso.
Hadleigh Parkes and Blade Thomson did not get on the score sheet. Left wing Monty Ioane scored a try for the Italian club, while hooker Hame Faiva was yellow-carded. Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara was on the right wing.
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