Rugby: How Kiwis are faring in Europe

By Campbell Burnes

Former Chiefs and Counties Manakau centre Bundee Aki now competing in the Guinness PRO12. Photo / Photosport
Former Chiefs and Counties Manakau centre Bundee Aki now competing in the Guinness PRO12. Photo / Photosport

The Guinness PRO12 and Aviva Premiership competitions both kicked off at the weekend with New Zealanders front and centre of the action.

In the PRO12, Cardiff Blues defeated Nasi Manu's Edinburgh 34-16, with former Blues and North Harbour No 8 Nick Williams a tryscorer for the Blues.

Gareth Anscombe, who should still be in New Zealand with a different Blues team, came off the bench and slotted two goals. Teammates included second five Rey Lee-Lo and former Blues prop Taufa'ao Filise.

Defending champions Connacht were stunned 41-5 at home by Glasgow Warriors, for whom Corey Flynn has transferred from Toulouse.

Connacht fielded Tom McCartney (2), Nepia Fox-Matamua (7) and Bundee Aki (12).
Former Crusaders No 10 and New Zealand Under 20s captain Tyler Bleyendaal kicked four goals as his Munster beat Hadleigh Parkes' Scarlets 23-13.

Charlie Piutau celebrated his first official game for Ulster from fullback with a 29-8 victory over the Dragons.

Sean Reidy was at openside flanker for Ulster, while Nick Crosswell came off the bench for the Welsh region.

Former New Zealand Under 20s and Manawatu prop Ma'afu Fia came off the bench as Ospreys smashed Zebre 59-5. Former All Blacks Sevens rep Kurt Baker played at fullback for the vanquished.

Leinster fielded three Kiwis in prop Michael Bent, lock Hayden Triggs and halfback Jamison Gibson-Park in the 20-8 win over Treviso, who had Jayden Hayward (15) and Filo Paulo (5) in their line-up.

In the Aviva Premiership, the boot of the evergreen Nick Evans, with three penalty goals, was key as Harlequins opened with a tight 21-19 victory over newly promoted Bristol at Twickenham. Mat Luamanu and Auckland-born former Manu Samoa wing Alofa Alofa were replacements for Quins.

Manu Samoa No 10 Tusi Pisi continued his globetrotting career, scoring a try for Bristol, while props Anthony Perenise and Soane Tonga'uiha and flanker Jack Lam also featured.

In the second match of the Twickenham double-header, Sean Maitland was on the wing as defending champions Saracens beat Worcester Warriors 35-3. Jackson Willison was in the unfamiliar No 15 jersey for the latter.

Jimmy Gopperth, this time in the No 12 position, continued his top 2015-16 form for Wasps, scoring a try and kicking four goals as they edged Exeter 25-20. No 8 Thomas Waldrom scored a try for the Chiefs.

Newcastle opened with a 19-17 win over Sale Sharks in a northern derby. Wing Sinoti Sinoti scored a try for the Falcons, while Mike Delany kicked five goals. Tane Takalua was at halfback. Johnny Leota scored a try for Sale, while the Sharks' pack featured Bryn Evans, TJ Ioane and Halani Aulika.

Former Blues and Hawke's Bay flanker Brendon O'Connor scored a crucial try for Leicester in their 38-31 away win over Gloucester, who used John Afoa, Willi Heinz, Joe Latta and Tom Marshall.

Todd Blackadder's debut as Bath's director of rugby started on a high, Bath winning 18-14 at Northampton. His old Crusaders halfback Kahn Fotuali'i was in the starting line-up for Bath, while Saints played no less than five Kiwis, not including Dylan Hartley: Ken and George Pisi, Ahsee Tuala, Michael Paterson and Teimana Harrison.

In the French Top 14, a try and two goals to former Wallaby Mike Harris saw his Lyon club to a 32-13 win over Grenoble. Other Kiwis in the Lyon line-up were Josh Bekhuis, Rudi Wulf, Toby Arnold and Taiasina Tuifua, while Grenoble had Sona Taumalolo, Steven Setephano and Nigel Hunt.

Nemani Nadolo came off the pine to help Montpellier beat Bordeaux-Begles 32-15. The home side fielded Luke Braid and Hugh Chalmers in the loose forwards and Jayden Spence appeared off the bench.

Ma'a Nonu's Toulon suffered a shock 25-21 home loss to Brive.

Victor Vito made his debut for La Rochelle off the bench as they won 26-18 at Castres. Jason Eaton and Uini Atonio also entered the fray, while Hikairo Forbes and Romana Graham started for the victors.

The Stade Francais club of Paul Williams and Aled de Malmanche drew 30-all with Clermont, for whom No 8 Fritz Lee scored a try.

Nomadic prop Jamie Mackintosh made his Pau debut as they beat fellow south-western club Bayonne 25-9. Tom Taylor scored a decisive try from fullback for Pau, while first five Colin Slade kicked four goals. Conrad Smith incurred a yellow card. Chris King and Daniel Ramsay were subs.

Bayonne fielded Tanerau Latimer in the No 6 jersey, former Otago and Manu Samoa lock Pelu Taele, hooker Manu Leiataua and second five Adam Whitelock.

Dan Carter kicked five goals as Racing-Metro defeated Toulouse 28-14. Joe Rokocoko, Casey Laulala, Ali Williams and Ben Tameifuna also played for the Parisians, while Toulouse played Paul Perez, Joe Tekori, and Census Johnston.

- NZ Herald

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