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Kiwis in Europe: Owen Franks and Matt Proctor start on right foot in Champions Cup

By Campbell Burnes
Owen Franks. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Owen Franks and Matt Proctor have made winning starts to their Northampton Saints’ careers.


The pair of former All Blacks entered the fray off the bench at Franklin’s Gardens as Chris Boyd’s Saints defeated Lyon 25-14 in the opening round of the European Champions Cup.

Franks’ last outing was in Canterbury’s October 19 semifinal defeat to Wellington in the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership, while Proctor missed the entire competition due to injury rehab.

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Also coming off the pine for Saints were former Steeler Ahsee Tuala, while Piers Francis and Teimana Harrison, who was yellow-carded, both ran out in the starting XV. Charlie Ngatai, in the No 12 jersey, was the sole Kiwi involved for Lyon.

Former Auckland and Blues hooker Tom McCartney scored a vital try as Connacht edged Montpellier 23-20. Also starting for the Irish province were prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy and centre Bundee Aki. Aaron Cruden, Chiefs-bound after Christmas, scored a try for the French club.


Ben Volavola and Dominic Bird were replacements as Racing-Metro beat Sean Maitland’s defending champion Saracens 30-10 to cap a turbulent few weeks for the north London club.

Toulouse won 25-20 at Gloucester, with lock Joe Tekori making Alex Shaw’s Champions Cup XV of the week for his powerful ball-carrying, which Manu Samoa could have used at Rugby World Cup. Charlie Faumuina and Jerome Kaino were alongside him in the pack.

Gloucester fielded Jason Woodward, Tom Marshall and Josh Hohneck.


Tyler Bleyendaal kicked five goals as Munster defeated Ma’afu Fia’s Ospreys 32-13. Former All Blacks halfback Alby Mathewson was a sub for Munster.

Clermont hammered Harlequins 53-21, with the midfield combination of Isaia Toeava and George Moala, who both scored tries, in fine fettle. Fritz Lee and Loni Uhila also featured.

Francis Saili wore the No 12 jersey for Quins.

Leinster, which fielded James Lowe, Michael Bent and Jamison Gibson-Park, beat Treviso 33-19. Hame Faiva and Dean Budd scored tries for the Italians, while Nasi Manu, Jayden Hayward and Toa Halafihi all played a part in the game.

La Rochelle, with Ihaia West and Victor Vito in the ranks, fell 12-31 to the Exeter Chiefs.

Callum Gibbins’ Glasgow beat Bryn Evans’ Sale 13-7.

Sean Reidy’s Ulster edged Bath 17-16.

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In the European Challenge Cup, So’otala Fa’aso’o’s Brive beat Sione Anga’aelangi’s Stade Francais 27-11.

Julian Savea scored a critical try as Toulon won 20-13 at Sione Tau’s Bayonne. Liam Messam and Brian Alainu’uese featured in the Toulonnais pack.

Simon Hickey slotted five goals as Edinburgh won 31-10 at Agen. Simon Berghan was at tighthead prop for the Scots.

Jono Kitto scored a try for Worcester in the Warriors’ 57-14 shellacking of Russian club Enisei.

Seta Tamanivalu was among the tries for Bordeaux-Begles in the 40-30 win over Wasps, for whom Malakai Fekitoa was at centre and 2018 Auckland rep Jacob Umaga was an unused sub.

Johnny McNicholl, Kieron Fonotia and Blade Thomson all tasted victory to the tune of 20-16 for Scarlets over London Irish. Motu Matu’u scored a try for the latter.

Tom Taylor’s four goals were not enough to prevent Pau falling 41-20 at Leicester. Ziggy Fisi’ihoi is now with the south-western French club and he started at loosehead prop.

Bristol smacked Zebre 59-21, the Bears including James Lay, Chris Vui, Siale Piutau and Charlie Piutau. 

Dragons beat Castres 31-17, the latter including Alex Tulou, Maama Vaipulu and Paea Fa’anunu in the pack.

Rey Lee-Lo scored a try as Cardiff Blues defeated Samuela Vunisa’s Calvisano 38-16. Willis Halaholo partnered Lee-Lo in the Blues’ midfield.

The second round of European action takes place this weekend.

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