Kiwis in Europe: Kiwis help La Rochelle go top

By Campbell Burnes

Victor Vito. Photo / Getty
Victor Vito. Photo / Getty

While the Grenoble-Brive French Top 14 brawl, which saw Nigel Hunt and Sona Taumalolo red-carded, hogged the headlines, of equal import is that a La Rochelle side featuring five Kiwis has shot to the top of the standings after four rounds.

Victor Vito wore the No 7 jersey, joining Hikairo Forbes, Romana Graham, Jason Eaton and Uini Atonio in the pack, as Stade Rochelais beat Lyon 43-18. The visitors started hooker Ti'i Paulo, while Mike Harris, Josh Bekhuis and Taiasina Tuifua all came off the bench.

Both sides finished the Grenoble-Brive clash, won 35-23 by Grenoble, with 13 men. Taumalolo had an eventful match, scoring a try before being ordered off, while Hunt started at No 12 and Steven Setephano at No 8.

Toulon finally hit their straps, beating Toulouse 32-15 away from home. Ma'a Nonu was at second five, while Toulouse had Luke McAlister (10) and Census Johnston (23) in their ranks.

Clermont were impressive in hammering a Dan Carter-less Racing-Metro 47-10. Fritz Lee was at No 8 for the victors, while Anthony Tuitavake had his first start for Racing at centre, having transferred from Montpellier. Inside him was Casey Laulala, while the pack included Ali Williams, Chris Masoe and Ben Tameifuna.

Luke Braid and Hugh Chalmers were in the loosies as Bordeaux-Begles defeated Bayonne 40-20. Tanerau Latimer copped a yellow card for Bayonne, who also fielded Tom Donnelly and Manu Leiataua.

Ben Botica slotted a goal as Montpellier outplayed Pau 41-13. Tom Taylor, playing at centre for the latter, kicked a goal, while Daniel Ramsay, Jamie Mackintosh and Chris King also appeared.

A David Smith try was insufficient for his Castres club to stave off a 29-25 loss to Stade Francais, whose three New Zealanders - Paul Williams, Aled de Malmanche and Zak Taulafo - all entered the fray off the subs' bench.

In the Aviva Premiership, Todd Blackadder's Bath continued their hot start to the season, crushing Newcastle 58-5. Kahn Fotuali'i was at halfback for Bath, while Tane Takalua, Mike Delany and Sinoti Sinoti played 9-10-11 for the Falcons.

Sale Sharks, with Johnny Leota, TJ Ioane, Bryn Evans and Halani Aulika in the mix, beat Harlequins 19-10. Nick Evans kicked two goals and Mat Luamanu copped a red card for Quins.

Worcester drew 23-all with Gloucester, with Jackson Willison again at fullback for the Warriors. Tom Marshall, Willi Heinz, John Afoa and Joe Latta all turned out for Gloucester.
Jimmy Gopperth, again at second five outside Danny Cipriani, scored a try and kicked six goals to guide his Wasps to a 34-22 upset at Leicester. Mike FitzGerald and Brendon O'Connor started for the Tigers.

Tusi Pisi kicked two goals as newly promoted Bristol defeated Northampton Saints 32-10. Anthony Perenise, Jack Lam and Soane Tonga'uiha played for Bristol, while for Saints, Ken Pisi scored a try. His teammates included George Pisi, Ahsee Tuala, Michael Paterson and Teimana Harrison.

Wing Sean Maitland scored a double in Saracens' 34-13 win at Thomas Waldrom's Exeter.
In the Guinness PRO12, the sluggish start continues for defending champs Connacht, who fell 32-11 at home to Ospreys. Connacht fielded Tom McCartney and Bundee Aki, while Ma'afu Fia came off the bench for Ospreys.

Sean Reidy was at openside as Ulster won 22-11 at Treviso. Jayden Hayward, Ti'i Paulo and Dean Budd were in the Treviso line-up.

Gareth Anscombe's three goals were key in Cardiff Blues' 24-23 victory at Munster. Nick Williams was at No 8 and Rey Lee-Lo at second five.

Nick Crosswell's Dragons edged Kurt Baker's Zebre 11-6, while Edinburgh, despite a yellow card to No 12 Phil Burleigh, beat Hadleigh Parkes' Scarlets 20-9. John Hardie wore the No 7 jersey for the Gunners.

Corey Flynn's Glasgow defeated Leinster, for whom Jamison Gibson-Park was a replacement halfback, 33-25.

- NZ Herald

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