Kiwis in Europe: Dan Carter rescues Racing

By Campbell Burnes

Racing 92's Dan Carter. Photo / Getty
Racing 92's Dan Carter. Photo / Getty

The regular season is over in Europe, but there are plenty of high profile Kiwis still in contention for silverware over the next few weeks.

Dan Carter was to the fore as Racing-Metro squeezed into sixth position in the French Top 14, meaning they will face a trip to Montpellier in a fortnight to keep their hopes of defending their crown alive. He kicked three goals and made the clutch play, as he has done so often in his career, with a late try as his club edged Bordeaux-Begles 22-20. Also in the Racing-Metro starting line-up were Chris Masoe, Ben Tameifuna, Casey Laulala and Joe Rokocoko.

For the vanquished, Simon Hickey was at first five, though did not kick the goals, while Hugh Chalmers was in the No 7 jersey with Luke Braid off the bench.

Pau missed the top six cut, falling 32-12 at Toulon. Tom Taylor kicked a conversion, while Conrad Smith, Jamie Mackintosh and Daniel Ramsay all featured. There was no Ma'a Nonu for Toulon, though Lions tourist Leigh Halfpenny scored 17 points.

Thierry Dusautoir retired from rugby a winner, as Toulouse defeated Bayonne 40-12. The former French skipper was at blindside flanker alongside Paul Perez, who scored a try, Luke McAlister, Census Johnston (yellow carded) and Joe Tekori. Toulouse, however, have not enjoyed a red letter season, placing a lowly 12th.

Benson Stanley and Fritz Lee tuned up for the weekend's European Champions Cup final against Saracens with a 30-26 win for Clermont over La Rochelle, the competition leaders, who fielded Victor Vito, Uini Atonio and Hikairo Forbes.

Grenoble beat Hosea Gear's Lyon 53-21. Tino Nemani scored a try from centre for the victors, while Nigel Hunt and Sona Taumalolo also played.

Brive beat Castres 33-27, with David Smith and Maama Vaipulu turning out for the latter. There were, in a rare occurrence, no Kiwis involved in Montpellier's 27-26 win over Stade Francais.

In the Guinness PRO12, Leinster finished second, despite falling 17-13 at Ulster. Isa Nacewa, Hayden Triggs, and Jamison Gibson-Park were in the mix, while Sean Reidy and Charlie Piutau appeared for Ulster.

Munster topped the standings after pummelling Connacht 50-14, for whom Naulia Dawai scored a try. Francis Saili scored a try, off the bench, for Munster.

Edinburgh, with John Hardie, Simon Berghan and Phil Burleigh in the ranks, beat Glasgow 29-18, for home Lions tourist Stuart Hogg scored a try.

Cardiff Blues edged Dragons 26-24 to place seventh and set up a May 20 playoff clash with Stade Francais for Champions Cup qualification. There may be a window there for Lions captain Sam Warburton to prove his fitness.

Willis Halaholo was in superb form for the Blues at second five, while first five Gareth Anscombe kicked six vital goals. Also playing were No 8 Nick Williams, lock Jarrad Hoeata and centre Rey Lee-Lo.

Dean Budd's Treviso defeated Kurt Baker's Zebre 19-3 in the battle of the cellar-dwellers.

Scarlets claimed the last semifinal berth with a 40-17 win over Ospreys. Johnny McNicholl scoring a try from fullback and Lions centre Jonathan Davies also crossing the whitewash.

Lions No 10 Dan Biggar slotted two goals for Ospreys, also in the semis, while Kieron Fonotia was at centre and Brendon Leonard off the bench for Lions halfback Rhys Webb, who was yellow carded.

In England's Aviva Premiership, Tane Takalua kicked six goals in Newcastle's 39-27 win over Bristol. The latter's fullback Jason Woodward had the consolation of two goals and a place in Eddie Jones' training squad. Other Kiwis to feature for Bristol were Alby Mathewson, Mark Sorenson, Tusi Pisi and Siale Piutau.

Lions wing Jack Nowell was at fullback as a Kiwi-less Exeter defeated Gloucester 34-20. Greig Laidlaw, the logical replacement for Ben Youngs at halfback for the Lions, kicked two goals, while John Afoa started for the cherry and whites, who face Stade Francais in this weekend's Challenge Cup final.

Lions tourist George North scored an important early try for Northampton in their 22-20 victory over Harlequins. Ahsee Tuala and Nafi Tuitavake were in Saints' starting line-up. Nick Evans signed off on his great Quins career with four goals. Mat Luamanu was at No 8.

Bath's semifinal hopes slipped out of their grasp with a 27-24 away defeat to Sale. Denny Solomona scored a try for the Sharks, while Bryn Evans and Johnny Leota both started. Bath fielded Kahn Fotuali'i (9), Paul Grant (20) and Robbie Fruean (23).

Wasps finished at the top of the standings following a solid 35-15 win over Saracens.

Jimmy Gopperth slotted four goals from No 12, while Nathan Hughes was at No 8. Lions tourist Elliot Daly scored a try from centre. Saracens did not field all their big guns ahead of the weekend's Champions Cup climax, Lions hooker Jamie George coming off the bench and five-eighths Owen Farrell being rested altogether. Sean Maitland did play, but was sinbinned.

Leicester tied up fourth position with a 28-23 victory at Worcester, Brendon O'Connor and Mike FitzGerald in the mix for the Tigers. Bryce Heem scored a try for the Warriors, while Ben Te'o started at No 12.

- NZ Herald

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