Saracens thrash Gloucester, Worcester stun Leicester

Saracens moved top of the Premiership on Sunday after defeating Gloucester, while Worcester Warriors produced a shock win over Leicester Tigers.

Saracens 38-15 Gloucester
Allianz Park

Maro Itoje touched down twice as Saracens maintained their perfect start to the campaign following a comfortable triumph over Gloucester.

The Cherry and Whites have shown signs of improvements in the early stages of the campaign but they were easily beaten by the defending champions. It was effectively decided by the break with David Strettle and Itoje (twice) going over, while Billy Twelvetrees provided the away side’s sole response from the tee.

Mark McCall’s outfit were slightly less clinical after the interval but they managed two further tries via Sean Maitland and Alex Lozowski, although the away side had the final word through Mark Atkinson and Charlie Sharples.

Sarries, despite winning their previous three matches, had struggled to find top form, but they were excellent against the West Countrymen.

Against the wind, the visitors often struggled to get out of their own half in the first 40 minutes and Sarries pounced, scoring first through Owen Farrell’s penalty.

They then constructed a well-worked try as Sean Maitland broke through in the outside channel and passed to Strettle, who touched down unopposed.

Johan Ackermann’s men were failing to gain much traction with ball in hand, although Jason Woodward threatened a couple of times, and two Itoje tries took McCall’s charges clear at the interval.

Saracens continued their dominance in the second period but it took them 13 minutes to secure the bonus-point as Maitland scampered over.

Gloucester had little answer to the power and quality of the home team and Lozowski completed Sarries' scoring when he latched onto Liam Williams' run.

The Cherry and Whites kept on going, however, and were rewarded when Atkinson and Sharples crossed the whitewash late on.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Strettle, Itoje 2, Maitland, Lozowski
Cons: Farrell 5
Pen: Farrell

For Gloucester:
Tries: Atkinson, Sharples
Con: Twelvetrees
Pen: Twelvetrees

Saracens: 15 Liam Williams, 14 David Strettle, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Mike Rhodes, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Will Skelton, 4 George Kruis, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Nick Isiewke, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Alex Goode

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Ed Slater (c), 3 Fraser Balmain; 2 Franco Marais, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Tom Hudson

Referee: Christopher Ridley
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Rob Warburton
TMO: Trevor Fisher

Leicester Tigers 37-44 Worcester Warriors
Welford Road

Worcester Warriors finally got their reward for three successive near misses after superbly overcoming Leicester Tigers.

The Warriors were narrowly defeated by Wasps, Sale and Newcastle, but they were on the right end of the scoreline this time around, securing the bonus-point by the interval through Jack Singleton, Chris Pennell and a Duncan Weir brace.

Ted Hill added a further try in the second period before Leicester launched a stunning comeback through Jonny May, David Denton, Sione Kalamafoni and George Ford, but Worcester launched one last attack and Hill scored in the corner to win a remarkable game.

Alan Solomons’ men were outstanding early on and went 14-0 ahead in the opening 10 minutes through a pair of Weir tries. Bryce Heem created the first, breaking through the middle and off-loading to the fly-half, before Sam Lewis and Pierce Phillips combined for the Scotland international to go over again.

Consecutive Ford penalties reduced the arrears but the visitors were in control and, after Weir had kicked a three-pointer, Singleton was on the end of another incisive attack to score.

Leicester were stunned and, although Guy Thompson’s try briefly stemmed the flow of Worcester points, Solomons’ charges were soon back in command and Pennell crossed the whitewash in the left-hand corner.

Weir added another couple of efforts off the tee to make it a 19-point buffer at the break before Hill extended their lead in the second period.

To the Tigers’ credit, they improved significantly and put the visitors under pressure. Quick-fire efforts from May and Denton gave them hope before they increased the intensity further.

Geordan Murphy’s charges appeared to have salvaged a draw when Kalamafoni and Ford went over, but Hill had one last sting in the tail as Worcester deservedly ended a winless run.

The scorers:

For Leicester:
Tries: Thompson, May, Denton, Kalamafoni, Ford
Cons: Ford 3
Pens: Ford 2

For Worcester:
Tries: Weir 2, Singleton, Pennell, Hill 2
Cons: Weir 3, Pennell
Pens: Weir 2

Leicester: 15 Jordan Olowofela, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 David Denton, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Greg Bateman
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 David Feao, 18 Gaston Cortes, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Ben White, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Kyle Eastmond

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Marco Mama, 5 Pierce Phillips, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Ted Hill, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Ashley Beck

Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald, Wayne Falla
TMO: John Byett

Vincent Koch and Sbu Nkosi return to South Africa squad

The uncapped Blitzbok star Ruhan Nel, Vincent Koch (prop), Sbu Nkosi (wing), Lionel Mapoe (centre) and Ivan van Zyl (scrum-half) have been added to the Springbok squad for their final two Rugby Championship home matches against the Wallabies and the All Blacks.

Front-row Koch is currently starring for Saracens in England but has not played for the Springboks since the 2016 November internationals.

Meanwhile, Nkosi, who was impressive against England in June, has recovered from the ankle injury that stopped him from playing in any Rugby Championship matches so far this year.

Nel, who plays outside for Western Province in the Currie Cup, is included amongst the backs alongside Mapoe.

They will join the 17 players already in camp in Port Elizabeth on Sunday. The Springboks face the Wallabies next Saturday, 29 September in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. They conclude the Rugby Championship with a return fixture against the All Blacks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria a week later.

Nel, who plays outside for Western Province in the Currie Cup, is included amongst the backs alongside Mapoe.

Meanwhile, Trevor Nyakane (prop, Blue Bulls) will continue with his conditioning programme under the supervision of the Springbok conditioning and medical staff over the next two weeks.

Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s director of rugby, said he was excited to welcome back players such as Nyakane, Van Zyl, Mapoe and Nkosi, and to work with Nel and Koch.

“Ruhan comes with a lot of international experience with the Blitzboks and he has performed consistently well for DHL WP, so it will be good to see how he operates in the Bok environment,” said Erasmus.

“Trevor and Sbu have been part of the squad earlier in the year and it’s good to welcome them back, while the players who featured for their provinces in recent weeks all got some valuable game time.”

Montpellier hammer 14-man Toulouse, Stade beat Pau

Montpellier found their form from last season to thrash Toulouse, while Stade Francais produced another excellent performance to defeat Pau.

Results

Sunday
Pau 13-25 Stade Francais
Montpellier 66-15 Toulouse

Pau 13-25 Stade Francais
Stade du Hameau

Stade Francais moved to within one point of Clermont Auvergne at the summit of the Top 14 table after defeating Pau at the Stade du Hameau.

The Parisians controlled the opening period and scored three tries as they went into the break 22-3 in front. Gael Fickou claimed another brace, following his efforts last week, while Kylan Hamdaoui touched down for the other.

Simon Mannix’s men threatened a comeback when Watisoni Votu crossed the whitewash twice but Morne Steyn’s penalty in the second-half made sure of the victory.

Following the issues of 2017/18, Stade have enjoyed a remarkable start to the campaign and they were impressive in the first-half at the Stade du Hameau.

Although they were slow to get going, by the end of the first quarter Heyneke Meyer’s charges had scored their first try as Fickou went over.

Steyn and Thibault Daubagna then traded penalties before the visiting outside centre scored his second try for a 15-3 advantage. That buffer was soon increased just shy of the interval via Hamdaoui and that left Pau with plenty of work to do after the break.

To the hosts’ credit, they were improved in the second period and reduced the arrears when Antoine Hastoy broke through and fed Votu to touch down.

Steyn kept their opponents at arm’s length with a three-pointer before Votu finished in the corner to reduce the arrears going into the final quarter.

Pau were further boosted by Arthur Coville’s yellow card for taking Charly Malie in the air, but the away side were comfortable winners.

The scorers:

For Pau:
Tries: Votu 2
Pen: Daubagna

For Stade:
Tries: Fickou 2, Hamdaoui
Cons: Steyn 2
Pens: Steyn 2
Yellow Card: Coville

Pau: 15 Charly Malié, 14 Jesse Mogg, 13 Julien Fumat, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Watisoni Votu, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Thibault Daubagna, 8 Antoine Erbani, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Pierrick Gunther, 5 Fabrice Metz, 4 Daniel Ramsay, 3 Malik Hamadache, 2 Laurent Bouchet, 1 Thomas Domingo
Replacements: 16 Lucas Rey, 17 Geoffrey Moïse, 18 Baptiste Pesenti, 19 Martin Puech, 20 Julien Blanc, 21 Antoine Hastoy, 22 Florian Nicot, 23 Lourens Adriaanse

Stade: 15 Kylan Hamdaoui, 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Julien Arias, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Sekou Macalou, 6 Tala Gray, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Laurent Panis, 1 Heinke van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Lucas Da Silva, 17 Siegfried Fisiihoi, 18 Alexandre Flanquart, 19 Ryan Chapuis, 20 Arthur Coville, 21 Jules Plisson, 22 Julien Delbouis, 23 Paul Alo-Emile

Referee: Ludovic Cayre
Assistant referees: Laurent Cardona, Jean-Luc Rebollal
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

Montpellier 66-15 Toulouse
GGL Stadium

Louis Picamoles crossed the whitewash four times as Toulouse’s unbeaten start to the season came to a rather abrupt end at a rampant Montpellier.

Les Rouge et Noir were also reduced to 14 men when Piula Fa’asalele was sent-off for a dangerous tackle but by that point they were already 21-3 in arrears. Picamoles, Gabriel Ngandebe and Nemani Nadolo had all touched down before Fa’asalele’s indiscretion as Vern Cotter’s men took a commanding lead.

Romain Ntamack kicked a penalty and Arthur Bonneval crossed the whitewash twice for the visitors, but that was as good as it got for Ugo Mola’s outfit. Benjamin Fall and Nadolo both bagged a brace of tries but Picamoles was the standout figure, going over three more times in the second period.

After an inconsistent start to the season, Cotter’s charges were evidently determined to show their true capabilities. That they did after twice going over in the first 10 minutes through Picamoles and Ngandebe.

Although Ntamack responded for Toulouse with an effort off the tee, Nadolo finished well in the corner to open up an 18-point advantage before Fa’asalele’s red card effectively ended the game as a contest.

Two more tries were forthcoming in the first half as Ruan Pienaar and Fall crossed the whitewash for a 31-3 half-time score.

Nadolo and Bonneval traded efforts at the start of the final 40 minutes before the hosts ran riot in the final quarter.

They went over four more times, with three of those going to their talismanic back-rower, while Fall also touched down once again.

It was a torrid evening for Les Rouge et Noir but they had the final say when Bonneval surged across the line in the last minute.

The scorers:

For Montpellier:
Tries: Picamoles 4, Ngandebe, Nadolo 2, Pienaar, Fall 2
Cons: Pienaar 5, Goosen 3

For Toulouse:
Tries: Bonneval 2
Con: Ramos
Pen: Ntamack
Red Card: Fa'asalele

Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Gabriel Ngandebe, 13 Frans Steyn, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Kévin Kornath, 6 Kelian Galletier, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Vincent Giudicelli, 1 Gregory Fichten
Replacements: 16 Romain Ruffenach, 17 Mikheil Nariashvili, 18 Julien Ledevedec, 19 Wiaan Liebenberg, 20 Enzo Sanga, 21 Yvan Reilhac, 22 Vincent Martin, 23 Jannie du Plessis

Toulouse: 15 Matthis Lebel, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 Lucas Tauzin, 11 Sofiane Guitoune, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Pierre Pagès, 8 Carl Axtens, 7 Alban Placines, 6 Louis-Benoit Madaule, 5 Pierre Gayraud, 4 Piula Fa’asalele, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 2 Guillaume Marchand, 1 Clément Castets
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 David Ainuu, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 François Cros, 20 Selevasio Tolofua, 21 Sébastien Bézy, 22 Thomas Ramos, 23 Maks Van Dyk

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon, Richard Duhau
TMO: Mourad Zitouni

Wins for UBB, Grenoble, La Rochelle, Toulon and Racing

Bordeaux-Begles overcame leaders Clermont while there were also wins for Grenoble, La Rochelle, Toulon and Racing 92 in Saturday's matches.

Bordeaux-Begles 23-19 Clermont

Clermont suffered their first defeat of the campaign as they went down 23-19 to a determined Bordeaux-Begles side at Stade Chaban Delmas.

Tries from Vadim Cobilas and Afaesetiti Amosa, coupled with the boot of Baptiste Serin, helped UBB seal only their second win of 2018/19.

They led 13-9 at the break thanks to prop Cobilas' crossing from short range, with Greig Laidlaw kicking all of Clermont's points off the tee.

After the turnaround a yellow card for UBB fly-half Brock James did not affect their game as after Laidlaw's fourth penalty, Amosa would power over from close range, making it 20-12 with the conversion before the influential scrum-half Serin added a penalty that made it 23-12.

Jacobus van Tonder responded with a carry over the line for Clermont just after the hour to reduce the margin to just four points and despite the visitors pressing hard late on - replacement George Moala being their main threat - Bordeaux-Begles held on for a big victory.

The scorers:

For Bordeaux-Begles:
Tries: Cobilas, Amosa
Cons: Serin 2
Pens: Serin 3
Yellow Card: James

For Clermont:
Try: Van Tonder
Con: Lopez
Pens: Laidlaw 4
Yellow Card: Timani

Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Romain Buros, 14 Eto Nabuli, 13 Romain Lonca, 12 Nathan Decron, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Brock James, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Afaesetiti Amosa, 7 Alexandre Roumat, 6 Mahamadou Diaby, 5 Cyril Cazeaux, 4 Jandré Marais, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Adrien Pelissie, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Florian Dufour, 17 Thierry Paiva, 18 Kane Douglas, 19 Beka Gorgadze, 20 Jules Gimbert, 21 Lucas Meret, 22 Nans Ducuing, 23 Lekso Kaulashvili

Clermont: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Damian Penaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Samuel Ezeala, 10 Patricio Fernandez, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Judicael Cancoriet, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Michael Simutoga, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Etienne Falgoux
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Jacobus Van Tonder, 19 Damien Chouly, 20 Charlie Cassang, 21 Camille Lopez, 22 George Moala, 23 Rabah Slimani

Referee: Pascal Gaüzère
Assistant referees: Pierre Brousset, Frédéric Chazal
Television match official: Bruno Bessot

Grenoble 31-22 Perpignan

Grenoble claimed their first triumph of the Top 14 season on Saturday as they beat early relegation rivals Perpignan 31-22 at Stade des Alpes.

Grenoble were comfortably leading 16-3 at half-time in the basement battle thanks to Raymond Rhule's score and Gaitan Germain's solid boot.

The hosts had to come from behind after Paddy Jackson's third minute penalty, but thereafter Grenoble built a healthy lead by the half's end.

Seilala Lam hit back for USAP moments into the second-half to reduce Grenoble's lead to just six points. However, Germain then sent over his fourth, fifth and sixth penalties of the match to make it a 25-10 advantage for the home side, who were heading for the four points.

Eroni Sau's score on 66 minutes brought Perpignan back into matters at 28-15 but two further Germain penalties meant Raphael Carbou's late try for Perpignan came only as a consolation.

The scorers:

For Grenoble:
Try: Rhule
Con: Germain
Pens: Germain 8
Yellow Card: Fifita

For Perpignan:
Tries: Lam, Sau, Carbou
Cons: Jackson 2
Pen: Jackson

Grenoble: 15 Gaetan Germain, 14 Daniel Kilioni, 13 Taleta Tupuola, 12 Alaska Taufa, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Adrien Latorre, 9 Lilian Saseras, 8 Loic Godener, 7 Fabien Alexandre, 6 Steven Setephano, 5 Hans Nkinsi, 4 Leva Fifita, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Etienne Fourcade, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Taiasina Tuifua, 19 Killian Geraci, 20 Theo Nanette, 21 Franck Pourteau, 22 Lolagi Visinia, 23 Beka Gigashvili

Perpignan: 15 Enzo Selponi, 14 Eroni Sau, 13 Wandile Mjekevu, 12 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 11 Mathieu Acebes, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Tom Ecochard, 8 Genesis Mamea, 7 Alan Brazo, 6 Mike Faleafa, 5 Berend Botha, 4 Shahn Eru, 3 Sylvain Charlet, 2 Seilala Lam, 1 Enzo Forletta
Replacements: 16 Raphael Carbou, 17 Yassine Boutemane, 18 Masalosalo Tutaia, 19 Lucas Bachelier, 20 Sadek Deghmache, 21 Jonathan Bousquet, 22 Jean Bernard Pujol, 23 Nicolas Lemaire

Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant referees: Adrien Descottes, Thierry Guilloton
Television match official: Éric Gonthier

La Rochelle 30-13 Lyon

La Rochelle picked up their third victory of the Top 14 season as they saw off Lyon 30-13 to strengthen their position in the standings.

It was all square at half-time as the teams went in with an 8-8 scoreline, with both sides eager to continue their solid start to 2018/19.

Ihaia West opened the scoring for La Rochelle off the tee after three minutes before Jean-Marc Doussain responded to level it up at 3-3.

Then La Rochelle prop Dany Priso went over on 22 minutes before Lyon's response again came, this time via a Jonathan Pelissie score.

Geoffrey Doumayrou's try five minutes into the second 40 helped move La Rochelle 15-8 ahead and Elliot Roudil made sure of the win on 71 minutes when his try made it 23-8 to the hosts, with Arthur Retiere adding the gloss in final minutes, this after Charlie Ngatai crossed.

The scorers:

For La Rochelle:
Tries: Priso, Doumayrou, Roudil, Retiere
Cons: West, Lafage
Pens: West 2

For Lyon:
Tries: Pelissie, Ngatai
Pen: Doussain
Yellow Cards: Barassi, Menini

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vincent Rattez, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Jules Favre, 11 Arthur Retiere, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Alexis Balès, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Lopeti Timani, 6 Remi Bourdeau, 5 Mathieu Tanguy, 4 Thomas Jolmes, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Pierre Bourgarit, 1 Dany Priso
Replacements: 16 Hikairo Forbes, 17 Leo Aouf, 18 Romain Sazy, 19 Zeno Kieft, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Maxime Lafage, 22 Elliot Roudil, 23 Arthur Joly

Lyon: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Xavier Mignot, 13 Pierre-Louis Barassi, 12 Thibault Regard, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Jonathan Pélissié, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Patrick Sobela, 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Clement Ric, 2 Jeremie Maurouard, 1 Hamza Kaabeche
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Francois van der Merwe, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Toby Arnold, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Charlie Ngatai, 23 Francisco Gomez Kodela

Referee: Tual Trainini
Assistant referees: Luc Ramos, Bruno Gabaldon
Television match official: Éric Gauzins

Toulon 33-3 Agen

Toulon claimed only their second win of the season as they beat Agen 33-3 at Stade Mayol, but it was not a victory that inspired confidence.

The hosts were cruising 19-0 at the break as they looked set to post a decent score, Josua Tuisova, Eric Escande and Liam Messam crossing.

It took just nine minutes for wing Tuisova to open their account before scrum-half Escande doubled the lead nine minutes later, with New Zealander Messam making it a 19 point cushion, leaving Agen with a mountain to climb if they were to recover for a third win of 2018/19.

But after the break Toulon's points dried up as it was only a Leo Berdeu penalty for Agen that troubled the scoreboard until the 69th minute.

Finally Toulon added to their tally at that moment as Anthony Belleau went over to make it 26-3 and there was time for one more try which came from outside centre Malakai Fekitoa as Toulon gave their supporters some cheer after what had been a disappointing start to the term.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: Tuisova, Escande, Messam, Belleau, Fekitoa
Cons: Belleau 4

For Agen:
Pen: Berdeu

Toulon: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Francois Trinh-Duc, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Raphael Lakafia, 6 Swan Rebbadj, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Corentin Vernet, 3 Emerick Setiano, 2 Anthony Etrillard, 1 Sebastien Taofifenua
Replacements: 16 Bastien Soury, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Juandre Kruger, 19 Jaques Potgieter, 20 JP Pietersen, 21 Filipo Nakosi, 22 Anthony Meric, 23 Marcel van der Merwe

Agen: 15 Clement Laporte, 14 Timilai Rokoduru, 13 Julien Heriteau, 12 Mathieu Lamoulie, 11 Loris Tolot, 10 Leo Berdeu, 9 Lucas Rubio, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Vincent Farre, 6 Antoine Miquel, 5 Denis Marchois, 4 Andres Zafra Tarazona, 3 Xerom Civil, 2 Facundo Bosch, 1 Morgan Phelipponneau
Replacements: 16 Quentin Bethune, 17 Paula Ngauamo, 18 Loic Hocquet, 19 Yoan Tanga, 20 Paul Abadie, 21 Jake McIntyre, 22 Johann Sadie, 23 Dave Ryan

Referee: Vincent Blasco Baque
Assistant referees: Julien Castaignède, Jacques De Lemos
Television match official: Cédric Marchat

Racing 92 27-11 Castres

Racing 92 beat reigning champions Castres 27-11 on Saturday in a result that lifts them up to second position in the Top 14 standings.

A first minute try from Virimi Vakatawa got them off to the perfect start, with Finn Russell adding the conversion before a penalty goal.

Benjamin Urdapilleta responded off the tee on 16 minutes to make it 10-3 but then Simon Zebo crossed to move Racing 92 17-3 in front.

Castres replacement prop Paea Fa'anunu went over first in the second-half, coming after an Urdapilleta penalty, meaning it was now 17-11.

But Racing 92 secured victory when, following a Russell penalty, Zebo claimed his brace in the 70th minute to wrap up their third win.

The scorers:

For Racing 92:
Tries: Vakatawa, Zebo 2
Cons: Russell 3
Pens: Russell 2

For Castres:
Tries: Fa'anunu
Pens: Urdapilleta 2
Yellow Card: Tulou

Racing 92: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Louis Dupichot, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Xavier Chauveau, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Boris Palu, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Teddy Baubigny, 1 Guram Gogichashvili
Replacements: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Edwin Maka, 19 Leone Nakarawa, 20 Antoine Gibert, 21 Ben Volavola, 22 Joe Rokocoko, 23 Cedate Gomes Sa

Castres: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Florian Vialelle, 11 Armand Batlle, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Anthony Jelonch, 7 Camille Gerondeau, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Victor Moreaux, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Tudor Stroe
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Antoine Tichit, 18 Christophe Samson, 19 Alex Tulou, 20 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 21 Yohan Le Bourhis, 22 Thomas Combezou, 23 Paea Fa'anunu

Referee: Maxime Chalon
Assistant referees: Jonathan Dufort, Jean-Claude Labarbe
Television match official: Akim Hadj Bachir

Western Province cruise past Griquas

Western Province continued with their superb form in the Currie Cup when they claimed a 38-12 win over Griquas at Newlands on Saturday.

The home side were full value for their win as they were the dominant side for most of this match, outscoring the men from Kimberley by six tries to two with Sergeal Petersen leading the way with a brace.

Western Province made a terrific start and two minutes into the match Josh Stander scored the opening try when he gathered a pass from Herschel Jantjies close to Griquas' tryline after Petersen and Damian Willemse did well in the build up.

Stander added the extras but Griquas were soon on the attack inside WP's 22 although the home side did well to keep them at bay with a solid defensive effort. WP soon regained the initiative and in the 15th minute Petersen crossed the whitewash in spectacular fashion after trading passes with Jantjies.

The home side continued to dominate and tries from Jantjies and Juarno Augustus followed with Stander maintaining his perfect record off the kicking tee which meant Province held a 28-0 lead after 25 minutes.

Seven mintues later, Petersen pounced on a defensive error from Enver Brandt before gathering the ball inside Griquas' 22. He still had work to do but did well to stab a grubber kick through before diving on the ball behind the visitors' tryline.

Three minutes later, Andre Swarts intercepted a wayward pass from Stander inside Griquas' 22 and when the cover defence closed in he got a pass out to Kyle Steyn, who crossed for the visitors' first try.

George Whitehead slotted the conversion which meant the teams changed sides with the home side holding a comfortable 33-7 lead at half-time.

Griquas were more competitive during the second-half although they were dealt a blow in the 44th minute when Conway Pretorius was sent to the sin-bin for a late and dangerous hit on Willemse.

Despite their numerical advantage, Western Province could not extend their lead during Pretorius' stint on the sidelines and it was the visitors who scored the opening points of the half when AJ Coertzen touched down in the right-hand corner in the 58th minute.

Three minutes later, the home side struck back when Willemse delivered a beautiful long pass to JJ Engelbrecht, who beat a couple of defenders before crossing for WP's sixth try.

With the game in the bag, WP took their foot off the pedal and although Griquas spent most of the game's closing stages on the attack, they could not breach the home side's defence again.

The scorers:

For Western Province:
Tries: Stander, Petersen 2, Jantjies, Augustus, Engelbrecht
Cons: Stander 4

For Griquas:
Tries: Steyn, Coertzen
Con: Whitehead
Yellow Card: Pretorius

Western Province: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Chris van Zyl (c), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Dan du Plessis, 22 Dillyn Leyds

Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Kyle Steyn (c), 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Conway Pretorius, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Eital Bredenkamp, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 4 FP Pelser, 3 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 2 Khwezi Mkhafu, 1 Devon Martinus
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Stephan Janse van Rensburg, 21 Wendal Wehr, 22 Christopher Bosch

Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, Ruhan Meiring
Television match official: Joey Klaaste-Salmans

Kings, Connacht, Dragons, Leinster and Ospreys win

The Southern Kings shocked Glasgow Warriors before Connacht, Dragons, Leinster and Ospreys won the later PRO14 games taking place on Saturday.

Kings 38-28 Glasgow Warriors

The home side claimed a deserved 38-28 win over their more fancied opponents and raced into a 21-0 lead inside 20 minutes after scoring three converted tries.

Yaw Penxe opened the scoring in the sixth minute when he touched down after beating a couple of defenders and four minutes later, Martin du Toit scored after diving over from close quarters.

In the 20th minute, the home side went further ahead when Henry Brown made a break before offloading to Rudi van Rooyen, who stepped past a defender before crossing for his try.

The Kings were reduced to 14 men in the 28th minute when Penxe was sin binned for a dangerous tackle on DTH van der Merwe. The home side didn't concede any further points during the half though but Masixole Banda added a penalty which gave them a 24-0 lead at the interval.

The Kings continued to dominate after the break and were rewarded in the 53rd minute when Harlon Klassen crossed for a well-taken try although Brown was also yellow carded for a cynical foul on defence and the Warriors were rewarded with tries from Nick Grigg and Van der Merwe during his stint on the sidelines.

The Kings struck back with another Du Toit try which sealed their win in the 72nd minute but Glasgow finished stronger and struck back via a Fraser Brown try and secured a bonus point thanks to another Van der Merwe five-pointer in the game's closing stages after Godlen Masimla was also sent to sin bin.

The scorers:

For Kings:
Tries: Penxe, Du Toit 2, Van Rooyen, H Klassen
Cons: Banda 5
Pen: Banda
Yellow Cards: Penxe, Brown, Masimla

For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Grigg, Van der Merwe 2, Brown
Cons: Hastings 4

Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Harlon Klassen, 12 Berton Klassen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 6 Henry Brown, 5 JC Astle, 4 Bobby de Wee, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Justin Forwood, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 CJ Velleman, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa, 23 Michael Botha

Glasgow: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Nick Grigg, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Pete Horne, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Ryan Wilson (c), 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 D’Arcy Rae, 2 George Turner, 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Kevin Bryce, 19 Rob Harley, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Ali Price, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Robbie Nairn

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Paul Mente (South Africa)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Connacht 33-20 Scarlets

Scarlets remain winless on the road after four rounds of the PRO14 after they went down to Connacht in Galway.

Three Connacht tries coupled with the boot of Jack Carty meant the 2016 champions defeated the side who dethroned them in 2017.

Centre Tom Farrell crossed within four minutes to give the home side the lead after Bundee Aki had broken the defensive line, Carty kicking the extra two. Leigh Halfpenny responded with two penalties for the visitors; sandwiched in between a three pointer for Carty to make it 10-6 with a quarter of the contest gone.

Cian Kelleher dotted down on 25 minutes after some patient play to push the score out to 17-6 although Scarlets wing Johnny McNicholl cut the deficit shortly after when he crossed the whitewash.

Carty closed the opening 40 with his second penalty of the contest making it 20-13 at the break. He scored the first six points of second-half when he kicked two penalties in the space of seven minutes to give the home side a 13-point lead with 10 minutes remaining.

A routine win then appeared anything but when the Scarlets crossed for their second try on 71 minutes courtesy of Tom Prydie, the winger's score converted by Rhys Patchell.

The renewed contest was intriguing for a little over three minutes before Connacht replacement Niyi Adeolokun was released following a turnover and burst clear, the try and conversion making it 33-20 to seal the Irish side’s victory

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Tries: Farrell, Kelleher, Adeolokun
Cons: Carty 3
Pens: Carty 4

For Scarlets:
Tries: McNicholl, Prydie
Cons: Halfpenny, Patchell
Pens: Halfpenny 2

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Gavin Thornbury, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Niyi Adeolokun

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Lewis Rawlins, 6 Ed Kennedy, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Paul Asquith

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy), Kieran Barry (Ireland)
Television match official: Leo Colgan (Ireland)

Dragons 16-5 Zebre

The Dragons secured their second win of the season with fly-half Arwel Robson laying the foundation for the hosts in a rain drenched Newport.

The home side had already tasted defeat at home to Italian opposition when Benetton came to Wales and left victorious in Round One. The Dragons levelled the score this time though and dominated proceedings from early on.

The Dragons fly-half notched the game's opening eight points when he kicked a penalty after four minutes and then crossed for a try, back-row Ollie Griffiths throwing an excellent pass to send the fly-half over but the conversion failed. Mattia Bellini’s try midway through the first period enabled the Italians to stay in touch.

Dafydd Howells’ try on 40 minutes owed much to his forwards hard work and sent the hosts in 13-5 up. Full-back Jordan Williams assumed kicking duties in the opening minutes of the second 40 and his penalty pushed the gap out to 11 points.

Williams’ three points remained the only score of the second period. Replacement Brandon Nansen was sent to the sin-bin midway through the second period but Zebre failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage and the Welsh side doubled their win count for the season.

The scorers:

For Dragons:
Tries: Robson, Howells
Pens: Robson, Williams
Yellow Card: Nansen

For Zebre:
Try: Bellini

Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Arwel Robson, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Cory Hill (c), 4 Rynard Landman, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Jarryd Sage

Zebre: 15 Francois Brummer, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Castello (c), 11 Edoardo Padovani, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 5 George Biagi (c), 4 David Sisi, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Giosué Zilocchi, 19 Apisai Tauyavuca, 20 Matu Tevi, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Tommaso Boni, 23 Gabriele Di Giulio

Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Simon Mills (Wales)
Television match official: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Leinster 31-7 Edinburgh

Leinster rolled out their A-list stars in Dublin on Saturday with predictable consequences against Edinburgh.

The European champions securing a bonus-point win after a dominant performance that had James Lowe and Jordan Larmour central to their excellence.

Fergus McFadden scored the game's opening try after a charge down from Devin Toner’s lengthy frame had earned the home side possession. Johnny Sexton, appearing in a rare domestic game, kicked his first conversion of the night.

New Zealander Lowe scored Leinster’s second try as the half-time whistle approached, the former Chiefs man finishing off an excellent team score that featured both half-backs and Larmour before crossing in the corner.

The Irish province were in danger of running away with the contest but Magnus Bradbury’s try on 44 minutes brought the Scottish outfit back into the contest. Duhan van der Merwe made the initial break but was hauled down by Larmour. Edinburgh recycled and powered over.

That try seemed to spark Leinster into action, the Edinburgh resurgence looking brief as Josh van der Flier drew his man and sent Lowe up the left channel to score what he thought was his second before a forward pass ruled it out. The third score did follow four minutes later when Sexton, working on the wrap around, found Larmour and he stepped inside a couple of defenders to finish. Sexton added his second conversion.

The Irish fly-half scored the bonus-point score himself down the blindside after the Edinburgh defence bought his dummy.

The visitors' night was made worse when, with 10 minutes remaining, they were reduced to 14 men. Replacement Pierre Schoeman was deemed to have led with his elbow whilst carrying into contact and was sent-off.

With the game in its closing stages Leinster ended the night with their fifth try to cap a five star performance, centre Garry Ringrose crossing the whitewash after an effective counter attack.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: McFadden, Lowe, Larmour, Sexton, Ringrose
Cons: Sexton 3

For Edinburgh:
Try: Bradbury
Con: Van der Walt
Red Card:
Schoeman

Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Max Deegan, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Joe Tomane

Edinburgh: 15 Dougie Fife, 14 Jamie Farndale, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Fraser McKenzie (c), 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 James Johnstone

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Chris Busby (Ireland)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Ospreys 27-10 Benetton Rugby

Ospreys bounced back from last week’s mauling at Munster to score their third victory from the opening four rounds with a 27-10 win at home to Benetton.

Benetton's eagerness at the breakdown saw them penalised for going off their feet and Sam Davies kicked the game's opening points 12 minutes in. His opposite number Antonio Rizzi levelled the score at three each 10 minutes later.

Dan Evans scored the first try of the evening after half an hour when Joe Thomas’ offload allowed him the space to dot down, the centre finding a gap in the Italian defence following an Ospreys line-out before sending the full-back over.

The Ospreys led 10-7 at the break and had an early second-half try chalked off by the TMO for a knock-on. Captain Justin Tipuric soon made sure of the hosts' second try though when he made a break at halfway, kicking ahead with the support of George North the flanker regathered and scored.

The Ospreys skipper was sent to the sin-bin shortly after his try for collapsing the maul and his side were soon made to pay. Tipuric’s opposing number Abraham Steyn scored for the Italians with replacement Ian McKinley adding the extras.

Davies kicked his second penalty of the night with the Ospreys still a man down to limit the damage caused by the sin-binning. The hosts led 20-10.

With 10 minutes remaining fly-half Davies put any danger of a late Italian rally to bed as he ghosted over. A simple show and go allowed him to wrong foot the Benetton defence and waltz over.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries: Evans, Tipuric, S Davies
Cons: S Davies 3
Pens: S Davies 2
Yellow Card: Tipuric

For Benetton Rugby:
Try: Steyn
Con: McKinley
Pen: Rizzi
Yellow Card: Sperandio

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 George North, 13 Joe Thomas, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Aled Davies, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 James Hook, 23 Cory Allen

Benetton Rugby: 15 Luca Sperandio, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (c), 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Cherif Traore
Replacements: 16 Engjel Makelara, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Giuseppe Di Stefano, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Tommaso Iannone

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Fin Brown (Scotland), Wayne Davies (Wales)
Television match official: Tim Hayes (Wales)

Sharks get the better of Golden Lions

The Sharks retained their unbeaten status in the Currie Cup when they secured a 37-21 win over the Golden Lions in Durban on Saturday.

The home side dominated for long periods although it took them some time to get going as wet weather made handling and underfoot conditions difficult.

They eventually outscored the Golden Lions by four tries to three and Robert du Preez finished with a 17-point haul courtesy of four conversions and three penalties.

The Sharks opened the scoring in the third minute via a Robert du Preez penalty but the visitors struck back in the eighth minute when Sylvian Mahuza had an easy run-in for the opening try after gathering a perfectly weighted crossfield kick from Shaun Reynolds.

Reynolds added the extras but that would be the last time the visitors would trouble the scorers during the opening period as the Sharks would dominate the rest of the half.

Du Preez added two further penalties which would give his side a 9-7 lead midway through the half.

In the 24th minute, Kobus van Wyk gathered a pass from Curwin Bosch on the Lions' 22-metre line and set off on superb run, in which he beat three defenders, before offloading to Dan du Preez, who crossed for the home side's first try.

10 minutes later, Du Preez turned provider and after gathering the ball at the back of a scrum on the Lions' five-metre line, he offloaded to Louis Schreuder, who dotted down despite the attentions of two defenders.

Four minutes later, things went from bad to worse for the men from Johannesburg when Marvin Orie was yellow carded for foul play after an off-the-ball incident with Hyron Andrews.

And just before half-time, Luke Stringer extended the Sharks' lead when he barged over from close quarters after Dan du Preez was stopped close to the tryline in the build-up.

Robert du Preez converted all three tries which meant the home side held a comfortable 30-7 lead at half-time.

The Sharks continued to dominate after the break and secured their bonus-point try in the 49th minute when Schreuder threw an inside pass to Dan du Preez, who crossed for his second try from close range.

The Lions were more competitive during the rest of the match and on the hour-mark James Venter scored their second try off the back of a lineout drive deep inside Sharks territory.

In the 75th minute, Wandisile Simelane did well to boot the ball upfield and beat Sbu Nkosi in a foot race before diving on the ball behind the home side's tryline to add some respectabilty to the final score.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Tries: D du Preez 2, Schreuder, Stringer
Cons: R du Preez 4
Pens: R du Preez 3

For Golden Lions:
Tries: Mahuza, Venter, Simelane
Cons: Reynolds 2, Coetzee
Yellow Card: Orie

Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (c), 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Ruben van Heerden, 19 Jacques Vermeulen, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Sbu Nkosi, 22 Aphelele Fassi

Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje (c), 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Len Massyn, 6 James Venter, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Sti Sithole
Replacements: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Reinhard Nothnagel, 19 Driaan Bester, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gianni Lombard, 22 Wandisile Simelane

Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant referees: Archie Sehlako, Blake Beattie
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Premiership wins for Wasps, Bath and Bristol

Wasps and Bath moved into the Premiership top four with victories over Sale and Northampton respectively on Saturday, while Bristol saw off Harlequins.

Bath 17-15 Northampton Saints

Bath edged Northampton Saints 17-15 at the Rec to continue their good run of form, with the teams having gone into the break level at 7-7.

Northampton drew first blood through Cobus Reinach, who scored the first try of the game in the 18th minute after kicking and chasing. Dan Biggar converted.

However, Bath responded in style 10 minutes later when Freddie Burns intercepted a pass just outside his own 22 and ran the length of the field to score and convert.

The hosts came out strongest after the break, with Burns extending their lead through a penalty before the in-form Joe Cokanasiga gave them some breathing space, receiving the ball from Elliott Stooke and going in for the try. Burns added the conversion before Biggar closed the gap with a 72nd minute penalty.

There was to be a late twist afterwards as Tom Collins scored a try six minutes later after being set up by Alex Mitchell's offload. However, Biggar's conversion attempt came off the woodwork, giving Bath the narrowest of victories.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Tries: Burns, Cokanasiga
Cons: Burns 2
Pen: Burns

For Northampton:
Tries: Reinach, Collins
Cons: Biggar
Pen: Biggar

Bath: 15 Darren Atkins, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Aled Brew, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Max Green, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Luke Charteris (c), 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Max Wright

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Andrew Symons, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dylan Hartley (cc), 1 Alex Waller (cc)
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Mitch Eadie, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Andrew Kellaway, 23 Harry Mallinder

Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Tom Foley, Simon McConnell
Television match official: David Grashoff

Bristol 20-13 Harlequins

Bristol Bears saw off Harlequins 20-13 at Ashton Gate, having led 11-10 at half-time, to return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats.

The visitors started the game on the front foot and were rewarded for their early pressure when Danny Care went over for the first try of the game from a pick-and-go in the seventh minute.

A conversion and penalty from James Lang stretched the lead to 10-0, but it was downhill from there for Harlequins for the rest of the first-half.

First, a 19th minute Ian Madigan penalty put the hosts on the board. Then, Ben Tapuai was yellow-carded for a high tackle.

Bristol did not capitalise on their temporary numerical advantage, but momentum was with them and they finally scored their first try through Piers O'Conor in the 35th minute.

Madigan nailed a penalty to put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half-time and two more shortly after the break, which came after a yellow card to Joe Marler for a high tackle on Andy Uren. Lang responded with a penalty of his own, but the Bristol fly-half then popped over another.

Quins' indiscipline continued and Paul Lasike was yellow-carded for a no-arms hit in the 78th minute. The visitors were ultimately made to pay for their mistakes, as they were unable to fight back.

The scorers:

For Bristol:
Try: O'Conor
Pens: Madigan 5

For Harlequins:
Try: Care
Con: Lang
Pens: Lang 2
Yellow Cards: Tapuai, Marler, Lasike

Bristol: 15 Piers O’Conor, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 George Smith, 6 Steve Luatua (c), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Ed Holmes, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Nick Fenton-Wells, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Jake Armstrong, 19 Joe Joyce, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Zane Kirchner

Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Ross Chisholm, 10 James Lang, 9 Danny Care, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Luke Wallace, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Max Crumpton, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Stan South, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Paul Lasike

Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Adam Leal, Jonathan Healy
Television match official: David Rose

Sale Sharks 13-31 Wasps

Wasps recovered from a shaky start to beat Sale 31-13 at the AJ Bell Stadium, having led 17-10 at half-time.

The visitors were hit by a yellow card in the first minute of the match, as Nathan Hughes was sin-binned for not rolling away near his own try-line.

Sale immediately capitalised on their early momentum and numerical advantage, as Jono Ross went over for the first try of the game from an attacking line-out in the second minute.

After a conversion and penalty from AJ MacGinty, in addition to a Lima Sopoaga penalty for Wasps, Nizaam Carr finally scored the visitors' first try in the 34th minute of the game after a lovely pop-pass from Dan Robson, with Sopoaga adding the extras.

Wasps then took the lead on the stroke of half-time, with Michael Le Borgeois' pass setting Josh Bassett up for the finish. Sopoaga converted from near the touchline.

MacGinty drew first blood after the break from a penalty, but Sale then lost Ben Curry to a yellow card for an early tackle on Willie le Roux. Will Stuart then scored from a pick-and-go from close range in the 52nd minute, with Sopoaga converting.

Hughes then added the cherry on top of the cake, forcing his way over from the back of the Wasps scrum and securing the bonus point try, with Sopoaga adding one last conversion.

The scorers:

For Sale Sharks:
Try: Ross
Con: MacGinty
Pens: MacGinty 2
Yellow Cards: B Curry

For Wasps:
Tries: Carr, Bassett, Stuart, Hughes
Cons: Sopoaga 4
Pen: Sopoaga
Yellow Card: Hughes

Sale: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jono Ross (c), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Tom Curry, 5 James Phillips, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Cameron Neild, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Alexandru Tarus, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Luke James, 23 Arron Reed

Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly (c), 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom West, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Rob Miller

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Philip Watters, Steve Lee
Television match official: Rowan Kitt

Willis Halaholo urges Cardiff Blues to build on success

After playing a leading role in Cardiff Blues' home victory over Munster, Willis Halaholo has called on his side to build on their success.

Following three narrow defeats in the final five minutes of their first three games, Cardiff Blues knew nothing less than a win would suffice upon their return to the Arms Park on Friday and they did just that with a convincing 37-13 win over the Irish province.

Cardiff could not have asked for a tougher test than Munster but were more than up for the challenge as they blew the visitors away.

Halaholo was at the heart of everything Wales' Capital Region did well. In the first-half he made the vital yards to lay the platform for Nick Williams' close-range drive and set up Tomos Williams with a devastating break.

Then in the second-half he eased outside the Munster defence for a vital score of his own.

The centre was thrilled to kick-start the Blues season, and he now wants more, remaining typically humble when questioned on his try.

"It's good for us, especially when we were up against a good team like Munster," he said.

"It will really pick the boys up leading into the rest of the season.

"We've had a few tough losses, especially losing in the last few minutes of each game, so it was good to come out with the bonus-point win.

"We'll take it week by week. We will rest up now, come in and review the game because there's still things we need to work on but we're definitely looking forward to the Cheetahs.

"The boys were up and once the momentum was there we didn't want to change it. We kept playing, we spoke about not just defending a lead, we wanted to keep playing and score more points so we were happy to come away with the bonus-point."

Reflecting on his personal contributions, he continued: "I don't know… we ran the same line earlier and I stepped in and got a bit of gain from that. So the next one where we ran the same move I went for the outside. It's just a case of trying to play some mind games and using my feet the best I can.

"For the try it was good build-up from the forwards in the 22 and like I said, again we ran the same move three times in the first half so I decided to change it and got on the outside but it was all credit to the boys up front."

A crowd of more than 7,000 descended to the Arms Park in miserable conditions and Halaholo was thrilled with the atmosphere.

Following three near misses, he knew Cardiff Blues owed the crowd and he hopes they will be back in force for next Friday's home clash against the Cheetahs.

"We were a bit surprised that a lot of supporters came out tonight and we are really grateful for that, especially after three losses," added Halaholo.

"We really owed them and we're happy that they are sticking by us because it really helps us out on the field."

Rob Baxter hails 'precious victory' at Newcastle

Exeter boss Rob Baxter hailed what he described as a "precious victory" over Newcastle which maintained their unbeaten start to the Premiership season.

Sam Simmonds scored two of the Chiefs' tries, while back-row colleague Matt Kvesic also found his way over the whitewash as Exeter claimed a 24-17 win at Kingston Park on Friday which helped them consolidate pole position in the table with a fourth successive win.

The Falcons played their part in a physical and dogged display, scoring tries of their own through Zach Kibirige and Johnny Williams, but it could not prevent the Chiefs from flying home with the all-important four points in the bag.

Post-match, a pleased Baxter assessed his side’s showing, saying: “We’ve come to a team who were top four last year and we’ve won away from home. In the dying minutes there was still a bonus point there for us to try and get, but overall I am a big believer that away wins in the Premiership are precious things and you should cherish them when they come along.

“As we know, you have to work hard for those win, but personally I don’t mind that. Newcastle have a good home record and they are an ambitious side who are trying to knock over big teams. That said, when you wrap it all up, I think it’s been a very successful day for us.”

Having trailed to Kibirige’s early try, the Chiefs hit back strongly with Simmonds crossing twice before the break from two well-drilled Exeter line-out moves.

Toby Flood and Joe Simmonds exchanged penalties, before the Falcons gave themselves a sniff back into the contest when Williams snuck over in the corner for a converted score just past the hour mark.

Level at 17-17, it was the Chiefs who rallied in the final quarter, creating a third try through flanker Kvesic, which replacement fly-half Gareth Steenson was able to convert.

“They disrupted us pretty well and at times tonight we lacked the little bit of clinical edge that we’ve shown in previous games,” said Baxter.

“Was tonight perfect? No.

“Were we as clinical as we would have liked? No.

“However, you have to give credit to Newcastle and their tenacity to stand up and fight in those situations. There were numerous situations where a more passive side could have let us squeeze in, but they didn’t allow that and they kept fighting up until the final whistle.

“We know nothing is always going to go your own way, but this group understand that the most important thing is how many try-scoring opportunities you can create.
"It’s having a mindset that if one gets away from you, then the next opportunity will come. At the end I was screaming to get the ball off the pitch and escape with an away win but they were hunting a bonus-point try!

“Overall, it’s an important win us for and you’ve got to be pleased with that. It’s our longest trip we do, we’ve knocked it off now, we’ve got the points, and for me I’ll take that any time of the year.”

Below-par Exeter battle past Newcastle

Exeter Chiefs battled to their fourth successive Premiership victory of the campaign after overcoming a gallant Newcastle Falcons 24-17 at Kingston Park.

The Falcons had an outstanding start when Zach Kibirige, who was a late change for the injured Alex Tait, touched down, but Rob Baxter’s men soon took command.

Sam Simmonds went over twice for a 14-7 lead before Toby Flood’s penalty kept Dean Richards’ team in the contest at the interval.

Joe Simmonds and Flood traded penalties in the final 40 minutes, but the scores were level going into the last quarter after Johnny Williams’ try.

In typical fashion from the 2017 champions, they lifted the intensity and won the game through Matt Kvesic, who burrowed across the line and maintained their perfect opening to the campaign.

Exeter have started the season in fine form but they were made to work by the hosts, who stunned the Chiefs by opening the scoring after two minutes.

It came from slack defence by the visitors, when Williams pierced the defence far too easily, but the centre then produced a brilliant offload to send Kibirige scampering clear. The wing duly stepped the final defender and crossed the whitewash unopposed for a 7-0 buffer.

The Falcons secured an excellent victory in the corresponding fixture last season, primarily due to a blistering first-half performance, but this time the visitors managed to halt the Tynesiders’ momentum.

They won the restart and went on the attack. As is their wont, Baxter’s charges went through the phases and Simmonds was on hand to cross the whitewash from close range.

Ollie Atkins was then denied a try by the TMO before Exeter’s number eight added to his remarkable try-scoring record as the home side failed to stop the West Countrymen’s impressive maul.

Although Flood reduced the arrears at the end of the half, the Chiefs opened the second period on the front foot and Joe Simmonds rewarded their endeavour with a penalty.

However, they failed to truly benefit from their possession and territory when Newcastle clinically took their first opportunity after the break. The hosts showed patience with the ball and their fly-half’s excellent pass opened the space for Tom Arscott before the wing fed Williams to score.

The Falcons were in the ascendency but the 2017 champions regained their composure and got to within inches of the opposition line. Under pressure, Flood infringed – receiving a yellow card for his indiscretion – and the visitors benefited with Kvesic going over, sealing the win.

The scorers:

For Newcastle:
Tries: Kibirige, Williams
Cons: Flood 2
Pen: Flood

For Exeter:
Tries: S Simmonds 2, Kvesic
Cons: J Simmonds 2, Steenson
Pen: J Simmonds

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Gary Graham, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Sami Mavinga, 18 Jack Payne, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Tom Penny

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Alex Cuthbert, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Don Armand (c), 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Sam Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Sam Hill

Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, John Meredith
TMO: Graham Hughes

Ulster draw at Cheetahs, Cardiff Blues thump Munster

The Cheetahs and Ulster played out a thrilling 39-39 draw while Cardiff Blues beat Munster 37-13 to claim a bonus-point success in the PRO14.

Cheetahs 39-39 Ulster

It was honours even at Free State Stadium as the Cheetahs and Ulster could not be separated in a 78-point thriller to start the PRO14 round.

The Cheetahs came out of the blocks firing when flanker Gerhard Olivier crossed on two minutes, with Tian Schoeman adding the conversion.

However, Ulster hit back three minutes later as scrum-half Dave Shanahan collected an offload from centre Darren Cave for the levelling try.

Schoeman nudged the hosts into a 10-7 lead on the 20-minute mark off the tee but it was then deja vu for the visitors when Cave set up Shanahan on 22 minutes. That converted score moved Ulster into a 14-10 lead, but William Small-Smith responded for 17-14 at the break.

Ulster levelled matters six minutes into the second-half thanks to pivot Billy Burns' successful penalty, but they were behind again on 53 minutes when hooker Joseph Dweba crossed shortly after Ulster lock Alan O'Connor was sin-binned. Burns did slot three points in response.

The next score was going to be key and it went the way of Cheetahs replacement hooker Jacques du Toit, whose converted try made it 29-20.

But the cushion was short-lived when Ulster hit back as a slick move between Angus Kernohan and Stuart McCloskey sent over Jonny Stewart.

It was now 29-25 to the hosts with nine minutes to play with the drama continuing when an Ulster penalty try put them in front before the Cheetahs hit back through wing Rabz Maxwane, with Louis Fouche's conversion and penalty thereafter pushing them into a 39-32 buffer.

But there was still late drama to come when Henry Speight went over in the dying embers, with Burns' extras tying things up in Bloemfontein.

The scorers:

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Olivier, Small-Smith, Dweba, Du Toit, Maxwane
Cons: Schoeman 3, Fouche
Pens: Schoeman, Fouche

For Ulster:
Tries: Shanahan 2, Stewart, Penalty try, Speight
Cons: Burns 3
Pens: Burns 2
Yellow Card: O'Connor

Cheetahs: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Günther Janse van Vuuren, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Stephan Malan, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Ryno Eksteen

Ulster: 15 Will Addison, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Angus Kernohan, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Dave Shanahan, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matt Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O'Connor, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Eric O'Sullivan
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Tom O'Toole, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Nick Timoney, 21 Jonny Stewart, 22 Angus Curtis, 23 Peter Nelson

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Lloyd Linton (Scotland), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

Cardiff Blues 37-13 Munster

Cardiff Blues claimed their first win of the PRO14 campaign after they picked up a bonus-point 37-13 victory over Munster at the Arms Park.

It was a positive half from the Blues as they went into the interval leading 14-13 thanks to tries from Nick Williams and Tomos Williams.

Number eight Williams opened the scoring on seven minutes after he finished off a solid carry from centre Willis Halaholo to make it 7-0.

But within eight minutes of that score Munster were 10-7 in front at Cardiff Arms Park thanks to two Andrew Conway crossings, the second coming after good work from Joey Carbery, who was impressing at fly-half for the visitors. It seems he will flourish at his new province.

If Carbery was starring for Munster, it was outside centre Halaholo who was in great form for Cardiff as his line bust led to scrum-half Williams making it 14-10 with a converted try. Carbery did land a penalty on 24 minutes to make it 14-13 which was how it remained until the break.

The Blues crucially scored first after the turnaround through the in-form Halaholo and with Gareth Anscombe's extras they were 21-13 ahead. That became 24-13 seven minutes later as the full-back slotted a penalty which meant Munster were needing a strong final quarter in Wales.

They did push hard for the next score but solid defence resulted in a reprieve for the Blues, who made it 27-13 thanks to Anscombe's boot.

Wales international Anscombe further extended the lead to 17 points with his third penalty of the night, which all but sealed the four points.

With that healthy cushion, the Blues were now pushing for a try bonus-point and it arrived two minutes from time via scrum-half Williams.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: N Williams, T Williams 2, Halaholo
Cons: Anscombe 4
Pens: Anscombe 3

For Munster:
Tries: Conway 2
Pen: Carbery

Cardiff Blues: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 George Earle, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Matthew Morgan

Munster: 15 JJ Hanrahan, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Tommy O’Donnell, 21 Jack Stafford, 22 Bill Johnston, 23 Shane Daly

Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales), Gareth John (Wales)
Television match official: Ian Davies (Wales)

Pumas thrash winless Free State Cheetahs

The Pumas secured their second victory of the 2018 Currie Cup following a dominant 42-14 triumph over an abject Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Jimmy Stonehouse’s charges set the tone early on by crossing the whitewash three times through Ryan Nell’s brace and one from Morne Joubert.

Rudy Paige hit back for the home team before Neil Maritz restored the visitors’ 21-point buffer just shy of the interval.

It proved to be a quieter second period as the Pumas eased off the gas and that allowed Jannes Snyman to score, but the visitors had the final word via Marnus Schoeman and Simon Westraadt.

With the Bloemfontein-based outfit juggling the PRO14 alongside the Currie Cup, they have endured a torrid campaign in their domestic competition.

Following this loss, the Cheetahs have gone through the tournament winless. Once again, Daan Human’s men were completely outplayed as the Pumas dominated, and in Stefan Ungerer, the away side had the game’s outstanding player.

The scrum-half was particularly prominent in the opening quarter, creating the first two tries, as a grubber through allowed Nell to touch down before his break and pass saw Joubert cross the whitewash.

It was proving to be a comfortable evening for the visitors and another fine move down the right gave their inside centre a simple run for his second try.

To the hosts’ credit, they fought back and reduced the arrears when captain Paige sniped over from close range, but the Pumas responded immediately as Maritz strolled in at the corner for a 28-7 advantage at the break.

With Stonehouse’s men in control, their intensity dropped in the second period, but they were not unduly troubled by the Cheetahs.

Human’s outfit had more of the ball and created a couple of opportunities but, in truth, they lacked ideas and their opponents were reasonably comfortable in defence.

Although the Bloemfontein side did eventually score through Snyman, Schoeman and Westraadt tries completed an easy win for the Pumas.

The scorers:

For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Paige, Snyman
Cons: Stapelberg, Carelse

For Pumas:
Tries: Nell 2, Joubert, Maritz, Schoeman, Westraadt
Cons: Smith 5, Marais

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Ali Mgijima, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Rudy Paige (c), 8 Daniel Maartens, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana 6 Jannes Snyman, 5 Louis Conradie, 4 Dennis Visser, 3 Reinach Venter, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 Johan Kotze
Replacements: 16 Hanno Snyman, 17 Stephan van Schalkwyk, 18 Nardus Erasmus, 19 Luigy van Jaarsveld, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Reinhardt Erwee, 22 Maputa Dolo

Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Neil Maritz, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Ruwellyn Isbel, 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers (c), 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Morgan Naudé
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Henko Marais

Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Jaco Kotze
TMO: Lourens van der Merwe

PRO14 Preview: Saturday

There are five games scheduled to take place on Saturday in the PRO14 with Connacht versus Scarlets and Leinster versus Edinburgh the pick of them.

Kings vs Glasgow Warriors

The Kings are boosted by the return to fitness of flanker CJ Velleman, who will start from the bench against Glasgow Warriors in Port Elizabeth.

There are five changes in personnel changes and two positional switches, with Martin du Toit joining Rudi van Rooyen in the half-backs while Masixole Banda moves to full-back.

The back-row sees Ruaan Lerm and Henry Brown come in for Martinus van Schalkwyk and Steph de Wit, while Bobby de Wee comes in at lock for Schalk Oelofse.

Having made his return from injury off the bench against the Cheetahs last weekend, Huw Jones starts for Glasgow Warriors.

Jones is one of nine changes to the starting XV that won 52-24 in Bloemfontein and he is joined in midfield by Nick Grigg who has recovered from illness to start.

It is an unchanged back-three, with DTH van der Merwe and Tommy Seymour, who both scored against the Cheetahs, starting either side of Ruairdh Jackson.

Pete Horne moves inside to fly-half and is partnered by Nick Frisby who makes his first competitive start for the club.

It is a brand new front-row as Jamie Bhatti and D'Arcy Rae pack down either side of George Turner.

Greg Peterson comes into the second-row to partner Scott Cummings while behind them Ryan Wilson captains the side wearing number six. Chris Fusaro and Adam Ashe are his loose forward partners.

The teams:

Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Harlon Klassen, 12 Berton Klassen, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 6 Henry Brown, 5 JC Astle, 4 Bobby de Wee, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Justin Forwood, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 CJ Velleman, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa, 23 Michael Botha

Glasgow: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Nick Grigg, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Pete Horne, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Ryan Wilson (c), 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 D'Arcy Rae, 2 George Turner, 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Kevin Bryce, 19 Rob Harley, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Ali Price, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Robbie Nairn

Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 BST, 13:00 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Paul Mente (South Africa)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Connacht vs Scarlets

Back-row Robin Copeland is set to make his Connacht debut as Andy Friend's side take on Scarlets in the PRO14 in the Sportsground on Saturday.

Copeland's inclusion is one of six changes to the Connacht side that took on Edinburgh last weekend. Irish international Bundee Aki is also included in the starting XV having come off the bench in Murrayfield to make his first appearance of the season. Aki forms a midfield partnership with Tom Farrell who returns after recovering from a stomach bug that ruled him out last weekend.

Winger Cian Kelleher is named on the wing and is part of a back three that includes Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O'Halloran at full-back.

Prop Denis Buckley is back in at loosehead to make his third start of the season while Gavin Thornbury is named alongside Quinn Roux in the second-row.

Copeland's inclusion at number eight sees him named in a back row that also features team captain Jarrad Butler at openside and blindside Sean O'Brien.

Meanwhile, Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has been able to call on the expertise of fly-half Rhys Patchell as he makes a return to the field, having suffered a concussion in the clash against Leinster at Parc y Scarlets in Round 2.

Patchell is in the only change to the backline that faced Benetton at the Parc last weekend. He has been forced to make one change to the pack with James Davies unavailable after sustaining a knee injury last weekend.

Loose forward Lewis Rawlins comes in to the forwards pack alongside Ed Kennedy and Blade Thomson in the back-row.

South African import Uzair Cassiem makes a return from a calf injury, sustained during the pre-season friendly against Bath, and takes his place on the replacements bench looking to make his competitive debut for the Scarlets.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Gavin Thornbury, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Niyi Adeolokun

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Lewis Rawlins, 6 Ed Kennedy, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Angus O'Brien, 23 Paul Asquith

Venue: Sportsground
Kick-off: 17:15 BST (16:15 GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy), Kieran Barry (Ireland)
Television match official: Leo Colgan (Ireland)

Dragons vs Zebre

Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman makes a total of four changes to the side that were defeated at Leinster for this home encounter.

Robson takes the 10 jersey for the visit of the Italians, to form a new-look half-back pairing with scrum-half Rhodri Williams.

Jared Rosser – fresh from his five-try heroics against Connacht Eagles in the Celtic Cup – will also make his first appearance of the season, replacing the injured Hallam Amos.

Two changes in the pack see a call-up for lock Rynard Landman - who partners captain Cory Hill in the second-row – while Ollie Griffiths returns in the back-row.

Prop Aaron Jarvis could also make his first appearance for the Dragons after recovering from a bicep injury to take his place among the replacements.

Meanwhile, Zebre have named a starting XV that includes nine Italian internationals who were part of the June tour to Japan.

There are four changes in all to the side as, after making a great impact from the bench last week, captain Tommaso Castello, flanker Giovanni Licata and hooker Oliviero Fabiani are back as starters.

South African Francois Brummer will earn his first start in his third PRO14 game, playing at full-back.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Arwel Robson, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Cory Hill (c), 4 Rynard Landman, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Jarryd Sage

Zebre: 15 Francois Brummer, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Castello (c), 11 Edoardo Padovani, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 5 George Biagi (c), 4 David Sisi, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Giosué Zilocchi, 19 Apisai Tauyavuca, 20 Matu Tevi, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Tommaso Boni, 23 Gabriele Di Giulio

Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 17:15 BST (16:15 GMT)
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Simon Mills (Wales)
Television match official: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Leinster vs Edinburgh

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made one positional change from last week as well as bringing in a number of fresh faces to his 23.

Jordan Larmour wins his 25th cap for Leinster and moves from the right wing to full-back, with Fergus McFadden coming in at 14 and James Lowe also coming in on the left wing.

It’s as you were in the centre with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose again selected as 12 and 13.

Captain Johnny Sexton leads the team on the occasion of his 150th cap for the province, with Luke McGrath in the number nine jersey.

In the pack Cian Healy again starts at loosehead prop with James Tracy and Michael Bent coming in to complete the front-row.

Devin Toner comes into the second-row to partner James Ryan.

In the back-row like Larmour, Max Deegan will also win his 25th cap in the RDS and he is the only change there with Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan again in the seven and eight jerseys.

On the replacements bench Dan Leavy is in line to make his first appearance of the season having returned from injury.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has made nine changes to his team.

As several internationalists - including Ross Ford, Allan Dell and Magnus Bradbury - are rotated into the match-day squad, the starting XV includes just six players that started in the 17-10 victory over Connacht last weekend.

Dougie Fife, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Ben Toolis, Luke Hamilton and Jamie Ritchie are all once again selected as Edinburgh look to secure their first away victory of the season.

Full-back, Fife, completes the back-three alongside wingers Van der Merwe and Jamie Farndale. The Scotland Sevens star makes his first appearance for Edinburgh since his debut as a replacement against Cardiff Blues in April 2012.

In the midfield, Chris Dean returns from injury to partner summer recruit Juan Pablo Socino, who makes his first competitive start for the club. Van der Walt continues at stand-off, while Sean Kennedy makes his first start of the campaign at scrum-half.

A new look front-row sees 110-times capped Scotland international hooker Ford pack down alongside Allan Dell and Simon Berghan, while Fraser McKenzie – named as captain - and Toolis form the second-row.

After a replacement appearance from the bench against Connacht last weekend, Bradbury is named at number eight, with Ritchie and Hamilton completing a combative back-row.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Max Deegan, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Joe Tomane

Edinburgh:15 Dougie Fife, 14 Jamie Farndale, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Fraser McKenzie (c), 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 James Johnstone

Venue: RDS
Kick-off: 19:35 BST (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Chris Busby (Ireland)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Ospreys vs Benetton Rugby

Ospreys have made 11 changes for the visit of Benetton, with Joe Thomas, Luke Morgan, Sam Davies and Tom Botha the only players remaining from the side that played Munster.

Internationals George North, Aled Davies, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate and Alun Wyn Jones all return to the XV as the Welsh region attempt to secure their third victory of the season.

Allen Clarke’s men began the campaign with successive triumphs but that run was ended by the Irish province last weekend.

Meanwhile, Benetton have named Luca Sperandio at full-back, with Tommaso Benvenuti and Monty Ioane taking their place on the wings. Marco Zanon and captain Alberto Sgarbi will be the centres.

The half-backs are Dewaldt Duvenage and Antonio Rizzi, while the front-row will consist of Cherif Traore, Luca Bigi and Simone Ferrari.

At lock will be Alessandro Zanni and Federico Ruzza, with the back-row seeing Sebastian Negri, Abraham Steyn and Marco Barbini completing the XV.

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 George North, 13 Joe Thomas, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Aled Davies, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 James Hook, 23 Cory Allen

Benetton Rugby: 15 Luca Sperandio, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (c), 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Cherif Traore
Replacements: 16 Engjel Makelara, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Giuseppe Di Stefano, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Tommaso Iannone

Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 BST (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Fin Brown (Scotland), Wayne Davies (Wales)
Television match official: Tim Hayes (Wales)

Premiership Preview: Saturday, Sunday

There's three Premiership games on Saturday before two take place on Sunday, with Saracens versus Gloucester the round's standout match.

Bath v Northampton Saints

Dave Attwood, Taulupe Faletau, Aled Brew and Darren Atkins come into the starting line-up for Saturday’s Premiership clash against Northampton Saints at the Rec.

A reshuffle in the backline sees Jackson Willison moving to inside centre with Brew partnering the Kiwi in the midfield. Max Green and Freddie Burns continue in the half-back pairing, as Bath look to build on last weekend’s bonus-point victory over Harlequins.

Fresh from scoring twice at The Stoop, Joe Cokanasiga continues on the left wing, with the talismanic Semesa Rokoduguni on the opposite flank. Atkins completes the back three, with the 21-year-old coming into the side at full-back.

Nathan Catt, Tom Dunn and Henry Thomas complete an unchanged front-row trio, whilst Attwood returns to the side to feature alongside captain Luke Charteris in the second-row.

Tom Ellis and Sam Underhill remain at blindside and openside flanker respectively, with Faletau coming in at number eight to complete the pack.

Meanwhile, Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd has made four changes to his starting XV to take on Bath in the Premiership.

Dylan Hartley and Alex Waller once again jointly lead the side from Saints’ front-row, with Ben Franks – who came off the bench last week to score against Sarries – recalled at tighthead prop alongside them.

The second-row is unchanged as David Ribbans and Courtney Lawes start for the fourth straight game this season, but flankers Jamie Gibson and Lewis Ludlam both come into the base of the scrum to join Teimana Harrison.

Andrew Symons makes his first competitive start for Saints at outside centre as he is selected in the midfield alongside Piers Francis, who has two tries to his name in three matches this term.

The back three remains unchanged with Ahsee Tuala, Tom Collins and Taqele Naiyaravoro keeping their spots in the side, while Dan Biggar and Cobus Reinach continue in the half-back positions.

On the bench, Andrew Kellaway is named in a Saints squad for the first time amongst the replacements, with the versatile Australian import fit to make his Premiership debut.

Form: Bath's only defeat in their last five Premiership Rugby matches was 10-17 at Bristol on the opening day of the new season. Bath have won only once at home in the tournament since February - 63-19 against London Irish in Round 22 last season. Northampton Saints have lost three of their last five Premiership Rugby encounters, whilst their only win away from home in the tournament since September 2017 was at Leicester in April. Bath have lost only one of their last four fixtures with the Saints - 6-24 at Franklin’s Gardens in round 3 last year whilst the Saints most recent victory at the Recreation Ground was December 2015.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Darren Atkins, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Aled Brew, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Max Green, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Luke Charteris (c), 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Max Wright

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Andrew Symons, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dylan Hartley (cc), 1 Alex Waller (cc)
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Mitch Eadie, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Andrew Kellaway, 23 Harry Mallinder

Date: Saturday, September 22
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Tom Foley, Simon McConnell
Television match official: David Grashoff

Bristol v Harlequins

Bristol boss Pat Lam makes six changes from the side that suffered defeat to Gloucester as Alapati Leiua recovers from a back injury to start in the backline.

Will Hurrell also earns a start in the midfield, while Bristol-born Academy product Andy Uren comes in at scrum-half.

In the pack, Harry Thacker starts in the front-row, while Ed Holmes and Jordan Crane are also listed.

Nick Fenton-Wells is named among the replacements and could make his first competitive outing of the 2018/19 campaign on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Kyle Sinckler returns to action for Harlequins on Saturday.

Sinckler joins Joe Marler and Max Crumpton in a new-look front-row from the one that started against Bath last week.

James Lang at fly-half and Ross Chisholm on the wing are the only changes in the backs as Quins look to get back to winning ways at Ashton Gate.

Having enjoyed an excellent start to the season at The Stoop with a 51-23 victory over Sale, Paul Gustard’s side have suffered narrow defeats in their last two matches at Northampton and against Bath at home.

Form: Bristol Bears have lost their last two Premiership Rugby matches, but both games were played away from home. The Bears have won their last three matches in all competitions at Ashton Gate since Jersey Reds beat them there in the Championship in March. Harlequins only victory in their last eight Premiership Rugby encounters was 51-23 at home to Sale on the opening week of the new campaign. The Londoners have not won away from home in any tournament since visiting Saracens in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last November. Bristol have not beaten Harlequins in Premiership Rugby since a contest at Memorial Stadium in October 2006, however they did win both encounters in the European Champions Cup in season 2007/08. Harlequins only previous visit to Ashton Gate ended with a 42-8 victory in February 2017.

The teams:

Bristol: 15 Piers O’Conor, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 George Smith, 6 Steve Luatua (c), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Ed Holmes, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Nick Fenton-Wells, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Jake Armstrong, 19 Joe Joyce, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Zane Kirchner

Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Ross Chisholm, 10 James Lang, 9 Danny Care, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Luke Wallace, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Max Crumpton, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Stan South, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Paul Lasike

Date: Saturday, September 22
Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Adam Leal, Jonathan Healy
Television match official: David Rose

Sale Sharks v Wasps

Steve Diamond has made one to one change to his Sale side for the Premiership Round 4 match against Wasps at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The only alteration which succumbed to Exeter Chiefs sees Ben Curry coming in for Josh Beaumont, with Jono Ross moving to number eight.

Arron Reed, who has been in prolific try scoring form for National One side Sale FC, is named on the bench. 19-year-old Reed started against Worcester and Saracens in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last November but has yet to play in the Premiership.

For Wasps, director of rugby Dai Young hands a first start of the season to Willie le Roux.

There are six changes to the starting XV from Sunday’s win against Leicester Tigers.

Le Roux returns from international duty with South Africa to take his place at full-back, moving captain Elliot Daly to outside centre. Daly joins Wasps debutant from last week Michael Le Bourgeois in the midfield.

Club captain Joe Launchbury, who has a short-term knee injury, is replaced by Will Rowlands. Rowlands starts in the second-row alongside James Gaskell.

Zurabi Zhvania gets a first start for Wasps, moving from the bench to starting at loosehead prop in the absence of the injured Ben Harris. Zhvania is alongside Tommy Taylor and Will Stuart in the front-row, as Stuart swaps places with Kieran Brookes.

Marcus Watson makes his first start of the season, replacing the rested Christian Wade, to join Josh Bassett and Le Roux in the back three.

Ashley Johnson, Nizaam Carr and Nathan Hughes form an unchanged back-row.

Tom West and Kearnan Myall could make their first appearances of the season from the replacements and are joined on an impactful bench by Tom Cruse, Brookes, Ben Morris, Joe Simpson, Billy Searle and Rob Miller.

Form: Sale Sharks' only victory in the last six rounds of Premiership Rugby was 21-15 at home to Worcester on 9 September. The Sharks have lost just once at AJ Bell Stadium since February - 13-35 to Leicester in Round 22 last season. Wasps' only regular season defeat since Round 19 of Premiership Rugby last season was 31-42 at home to Exeter on 8 September. Wasps record away from home in Premiership Rugby in 2018 is an even won three, drawn one, lost three. The last eight meetings between the two clubs in Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the only time that Wasps have won on Sale’s soil since 2005 was by a single point at Edgeley Park in October 2010.

The teams:

Sale: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jono Ross (c), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Tom Curry, 5 James Phillips, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Cameron Neild, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Alexandru Tarus, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Luke James, 23 Arron Reed

Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Elliot Daly (c), 12 Michael Le Bourgeois, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom West, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Rob Miller

Date: Saturday, September 22
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Philip Watters, Steve Lee
Television match official: Rowan Kitt

Sunday

Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors

Graham Kitchener returns from injury to make his first appearance of the season for Leicester Tigers in Sunday’s home game against Worcester Warriors.

The 28-year-old lock has recovered from a hip injury to join the line-up, replacing the suspended Will Spencer in the only change to the pack from last week’s match against Wasps.

There are two changes in the backline where Jordan Olowofela and Jonah Holmes come in for Telusa Veainu and Adam Thompstone.

Kyle Eastmond is named among the replacements after missing the Round 3 trip to Wasps, and prop Gaston Cortes returns from international duty with Argentina to join the matchday squad as Tigers return to home turf.

Meanwhile, Worcester's director of rugby Alan Solomons has made three changes to Warriors' starting line-up.

Jack Singleton, Nick Schonert and Anton Bresler all start as Warriors look to replicate last season’s performance at Tigers in which they came away with a bonus-point, 31-27 win.

Singleton will get his first start of the season while Schonert recovers from concussion to line up alongside Callum Black in the front-row.

Bresler partners Pierce Phillips in the second-row to make his first start of the season. GJ van Velze leads the side from the back-row next to Sam Lewis and Marco Mama.

The Warriors backline remains unchanged from the last outing against Newcastle Falcons while in the replacements, 19-year-old Academy forward Ted Hill could make his Premiership debut from the bench.

Form: All three of Leicester Tigers' matches this season have been won by the home side on the day. Tigers have scored a try bonus point in their last two matches and have not achieved that in three successive Premiership Rugby games since April 2012. Worcester were one of five clubs to beat Leicester at Welford Road in Premiership Rugby last season. Worcester Warriors have lost their last four Premiership Rugby matches since beating Harlequins at Sixways in April, whilst their two away victories in any competition last season were both in Premiership Rugby, at Leicester and at Exeter. The last three matches between the two clubs have all been won by the away side on the day.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Jordan Olowofela, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 David Denton, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Greg Bateman
Replacements:
16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 David Feao, 18 Gaston Cortes, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Ben White, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Kyle Eastmond

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Marco Mama, 5 Pierce Phillips, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Callum Black
Replacements:
16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Ted Hill, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Ashley Beck

Date: Sunday, September 23
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald, Wayne Falla
Television match official: John Byett

Saracens v Gloucester

Jamie George and Richard Wigglesworth will achieve their landmark moments from the start against Gloucester at Allianz Park on Sunday.

England hooker George makes his 200th Saracens appearance, aged just 27, while scrum-half Wigglesworth overtakes his former captain Steve Borthwick as the all-time Premiership appearance holder with outing 266 in the competition.

The latter is one of five changes to the side that began the win over Northampton Saints last weekend.

Owen Farrell returns from a minor strain while Sean Maitland is back on the wing after coming back from a dislocated finger at Franklin’s Gardens.

George Kruis makes his first start of the season with Maro Itoje switching to blindside flanker. Ben Earl is selected at number eight.

Meanwhile, Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann keeps faith with the same starting line-up that defeated Bristol Bears last weekend.

There is just the one change to the squad that took on Bristol at Kingsholm last Friday, prop Val Rapava Ruskin returning to be named amongst the replacements.

It’s a meeting between two of the three unbeaten sides to date in the Premiership, so something has to give and Ackermann is looking for his side to go better at Allianz Park than they did last season.

Form: Saracens have won their last ten Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches, scoring four or more tries in each of the last nine, since Exeter beat them at Sandy Park in March. Saracens most recent defeat at Allianz Park in Premiership Rugby was at home to Leicester Tigers in February. Gloucester are unbeaten after the first three rounds of Gallagher Premiership Rugby, their best start to a campaign since 2007/08. Gloucester’s only victory on the road since November in Premiership Rugby was 33-29 at London Irish in March. The last five encounters between the two clubs have all been won by the home side on the day whilst Gloucester’s most recent victory on Saracens turf was at Vicarage Road in November 2008.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Liam Williams, 14 David Strettle, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Mike Rhodes, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Will Skelton, 4 George Kruis, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements:
16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Nick Isiewke, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Alex Goode

Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Ed Slater (c), 3 Fraser Balmain; 2 Franco Marais, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements:
16 James Hanson, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Tom Hudson

Date: Sunday, September 23
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Christopher Ridley
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Rob Warburton
Television match official: Trevor Fisher

Top 14 Preview: Round Five

Saturday’s late game in the Top 14 sees Racing 92 host defending champions Castres in what should be a thriller at the Paris La Defense Arena.

Elsewhere, Lyon head to La Rochelle looking for their third victory of the campaign while Stade Francais will attempt to continue their fine form when visiting Pau.

At the other end of the table, the newly-promoted sides go head-to-head as Grenoble face Perpignan. Neither have won a game since regaining their places in France’s top-tier but, unless it’s a draw, one of them will break their duck.

Saturday
Bordeaux-Bègles vs Clermont Auvergne
Grenoble vs Perpignan
La Rochelle vs Lyon
Toulon vs Agen
Racing 92 vs Castres

Sunday
Pau vs Stade Francais
Montpellier vs Toulouse

Bordeaux-Bègles vs Clermont Auvergne
Stade Chaban-Delmas

Two teams who are enduring contrasting starts to the season, despite only being separated by once place in the 2017/18 standings, meet in the early game.

UBB have ambitions to break into the top-six and become one of the bigger powers in Europe, but they have struggled so far in 2018/19. Rory Teague’s men started well enough, thrashing Pau 41-19, but they have not tasted success since and were embarrassed 22-17 by Agen in Round Four.

Their opponents on Saturday, however, have been outstanding, winning all of their games. Clermont were dominant victors in the opening three weeks and, although they were tested by Pau, Les Jaunards edged the contest 27-23.

You would think that Auvergne are due a loss at some point but confidence is high, while Bordeaux have been lacklustre recently.

Last season’s result: Bordeaux won 32-25
Kick-off: 14:45 local (13:45 BST, 12:45 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere
Assistant referees: Pierre Brousset, Frederic Chazal
TMO: Bruno Bessot

Grenoble vs Perpignan
Stade des Alpes

It may only be five weeks into the season but this could already be one of the biggest games of the campaign if either of these sides are to stave off relegation.

After both were promoted from Pro D2, neither have yet won a game in France’s top-tier. In particular, Grenoble have come close and, as a result, should be favourites going into this encounter, but their record was poor against Perpignan last season.

The Catalans emerged triumphant in all three matches between the teams, including the play-off final where they were comfortable 38-13 victors, and they will be hoping for a similar outcome at the Stade des Alpes.

Last season’s result: Perpignan won 24-17
Kick-off: 18:00 local (17:00 BST, 16:00 GMT)
Referee: Jerome Garces
Assistant referees: Adrien Descottes, Thierry Guilloton
TMO: Eric Gonthier

La Rochelle vs Lyon
Stade Marcel-Deflandre

Despite an ultimately comfortable victory over Perpignan last week, La Rochelle have yet to find the form which made them such a formidable proposition under Patrice Collazo.

In contrast, Pierre Mignoni has done a fine job in turning Lyon into one of the most feared teams in France and their remarkable victory over Montpellier demonstrated the work he has done.

They thrashed the 2018 Top 14 runners up 55-13, which secured their second victory of the campaign and moved them up to fifth, just two points behind second placed Stade Francais.

Irrespective of the hosts’ current frustrations, it should be a tight game, but you suspect that Mignoni’s charges will be the more confident outfit heading into the contest.

Last season’s result: La Rochelle won 19-15
Kick-off: 18:00 local (17:00 BST, 16:00 GMT)
Referee: Jerome Garces
Assistant referees: Luc Ramos, Bruno Gabaldon
TMO: Eric Gauzins

Toulon vs Agen
Stade Mayol

It has been a pretty dreadful opening to the season for Toulon but they should have far too much quality for Agen at the Stade Mayol.

The focus for Philippe Sella’s men has very much been on their home form and it has paid off so far after securing victories over Perpignan and Bordeaux, but they have been dreadful on the road.

Expect the same here. Although Patrice Collazo has endured an inauspicious start in the head coach’s role, this may be the ideal tonic. If they don’t get a comfortable win against a team that is expected to struggle then the pressure will ramp up from owner Mourad Boudjellal.

Last season’s result: Toulon won 54-5
Kick-off: 18:00 local (17:00 BST, 16:00 GMT)
Referee: Vincent Blasco-Baque
Assistant referees: Julien Castaignede, Jacques De Lemos
TMO: Cedric Marchat

Racing 92 vs Castres
Paris La Defense Arena

On paper, it has been a difficult start to the campaign for Castres, but they have handled it superbly and another victory here would set them up nicely.

After overturning Montpellier and Lyon, Christophe Urios’ men then visited Toulon, only to succumb by one point. A comfortable victory over strugglers Grenoble got them back on track and they head to Paris in confident mood.

Saturday’s hosts, Racing, have shown glimpses of their capabilities in 2018/19, winning in the Stade Mayol and thrashing Agen, but their heavy home defeat to Clermont Auvergne would have concerned the supporters.

It should be a thriller and a close contest between two sides who have realistic title ambitions, but Castres do rather enjoy upsetting the apple cart.

Last season’s result: Racing won 25-21
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 BST, 18:45 GMT)
Referee: Maxime Chalon
Assistant referees: Jonathan Dufort, Jean-Claude Labarbe
TMO: Akim Hadj-Bachir

Pau vs Stade Francais
Stade du Hameau

Stade Francais head to Pau in Sunday’s early game buoyed by a fine start to the season following three victories in the opening four matches.

Included in those wins was an excellent triumph over Toulon, while their only defeat came at pacesetters Clermont Auvergne.

Simon Mannix’s men have also faced Les Jaunards and they provided the leaders’ sternest test by coming within four minutes of overturning Clermont, but the 2017 Top 14 champions edged them out.

Pau’s performance last weekend showed that they should be battling for the top-six once again this season and they will fancy their chances of overturning the Parisians.

Last season’s result: Stade won 25-23
Kick-off: 12:30 local (11:30 BST, 10:30 GMT)
Referee: Ludovic Cayre
Assistant referees: Laurent Cardona, Jean-Luc Rebollal
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure

Montpellier vs Toulouse
GGL Stadium

The final match of Round Five sees two of last season’s top-four go head-to-head. After a difficult start for Montpellier, where they lost at home to Castres and were thrashed by Lyon, the 2018 runners up will be looking to kick-start their campaign.

Despite beating La Rochelle and gaining a creditable draw at Bordeaux, Vern Cotter’s men have struggled for form and their match with Toulouse will be another difficult test.

It will also be Les Rouge et Noir’s toughest game so far, with them currently unbeaten after three victories and a draw. Ugo Mola’s charges have generally battled for their results rather than swept all before them, but edging out victories is a crucial skill to have.

Montpellier should ultimately have too much for the visitors at home, although the absence of Aaron Cruden will hamper them. 

Last season’s result: Montpellier won 32-22
Kick-off: 16:50 local (15:50 BST, 14:50 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon, Richard Duhau
TMO: Mourad Zitouni

Stuart Hogg suffers injury setback

Glasgow Warriors have announced that full-back Stuart Hogg underwent ankle surgery on Thursday and is expected to be out of action for 10 to 12 weeks.

Hogg sustained the injury in the win over Munster earlier this month.

He said: "I’m gutted to be missing some important games for Glasgow Warriors and Scotland over the next few months.

“My focus just now is working hard and getting fit, so I can play my part in what is a long season.

“I’d like to thank the medical staff at Glasgow Warriors and BMI Ross Hall Hospital for all their care and support.”

Glasgow Warriors coach Dave Rennie said: “Hoggy injured his ankle in the game against Munster and then flew to South Africa with the squad for our PRO14 matches against the Cheetahs and the Kings.

"He didn’t train over here as it often takes a few days for the swelling to go down and he returned home when we realised it was more serious than we thought.

“It’s frustrating for him. He got himself in extremely good nick for the start of the season and was arguably one of the best players on the park in the opening two games. But it’s a long old season, he’s a resilient man and we’re looking forward to seeing him back out there soon.”

Angus Cottrell called up to Wallabies squad

Rebels flanker Angus Cottrell is in line for a Test debut after being named in the Wallabies squad to tour South Africa and Argentina.

The 28-year-old has been called into the squad in place of Pete Samu who is out for a month with a knee injury suffered in the loss to the Pumas on the Gold Coast.

Cottrell has a good chance of making his debut in Samu's absence as Lukhan Tui is also unavailable due to the sudden passing of his stepfather.

Cottrell, Caleb Timu and Ned Hanigan shape as coach Michael Cheika's only options to partner David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the back-row.

Jake Gordon is the other fresh face in Cheika's squad.

He has leapfrogged Brumbies scrum-half Joe Powell in the pecking order after some stellar showings for the New South Wales Country Eagles.

There has been a similar swap in the depth chart at hooker with Tolu Latu left out of the squad. Brandon Paenga-Amosa will travel to Port Elizabeth in his place.

That is where the changes end, Cheika retaining all of the available players from the 23 which fell to Argentina on home soil for the first time in 35 years.

That loss eliminated the Wallabies from Rugby Championship contention but Cheika said there is still plenty to play for overseas.

"There’s an opportunity presented to us now to get some good victories overseas and that’s going to come from consistency in the way that we play," he said.

"We have got some news additions to the squad and these guys have shown plenty of grit and determination to get an opportunity at a higher level so now we’re looking for them to add that to the mix.

"We’re very determined to make sure that we repay the faith and show people what we’re about in the way we play."

Wallabies squad to tour South Africa, Argentina:

Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Angus Cottrell, Folau Fainga'a, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (c), Sekope Kepu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Caleb Timu, Taniela Tupou

Backs: Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Jake Gordon, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks, Sefa Naivalu, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua

Jake White interested in Wallabies job

Former Springboks boss Jake White has revealed that he would consider taking over the Wallabies coaching reins if the chance arose.

White is viewed in some circles as a possible replacement for current Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika, who has guided the two-time world champions to five losses in seven Tests in 2018.

Despite being contracted until the end of the 2019 World Cup, Cheika is under pressure to retain his job after the Wallabies' poor results has seen them drop to seventh on the World Rugby rankings.

White, who was the Springboks' coach when they won the 2007 World Cup in France and guided the Brumbies to a runners-up spot in Super Rugby in 2013, said he still has a desire to coach at Test level and would consider the Wallabies job if it became available.

"Obviously, I think that I've always said that coaching one of the top teams in the world is where you get judged," White told ESPN.

"Australia is consistently always in the top teams in the world. I must say that obviously the reason I left [in 2013] was it was very, very well documented that the South African way, or style of play, wasn't the way Australia wanted to go. I'm sure things have changed, but that was the reason."

White, who is currently coaching Toyota Verblitz in Japan's Top League, feels it is "highly unlikely" he would be offered the Wallabies coaching position but he also said "one never knows. Stranger things have happened in rugby".

The 54-year-old was shortlisted to coach Australia when Robbie Deans was fired after the Wallabies suffered a 2-1 series defeat to the British and Irish Lions in Australia in 2013 but Ewen McKenzie was preferred as the New Zealander's successor instead.

Ioane brothers pen new deals with New Zealand Rugby

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) have announced they have secured the key signatures of All Blacks, Blues and Auckland brothers, Rieko and Akira Ioane, who have both signed long-term contracts.

21-year-old Rieko, the current World Breakthrough Player of the Year and nominee for Player of the Year, has signed a four-year deal through to the end of the 2022 season, while 23-year-old Akira has signed on through to 2021.

Rieko said he was “hugely excited” to be recommitting to New Zealand.

“I feel incredibly privileged to get the opportunity to play my rugby here for another four years. I want to give it my best shot at serving the black jersey and, hopefully, I’ll get the chance to play at the Rugby World Cup in the future. That’s a huge motivator for me," he revealed.

“It was obviously tough this year for the Blues, but I feel we’re on the verge of something special and I want to be a part of that journey. Auckland is my home, it’s where I grew up and it’s the city that made me as a rugby player, so I want to do my bit to help it move forward.”

Akira said: “It was important for me to stay in Auckland and at the Blues because it’s my home and I want to help the teams in this city succeed. I also want to keep playing my best rugby and try and make it back into the All Blacks again.

“It will also be special sharing the next few years with my brother and representing our family out on the footy field.”

Rieko became the eighth youngest All Blacks Test debutant when he came off the bench against Italy at the age of 19 years and 239 days in November 2016. He has now started 16 of his 18 Tests and scored 18 tries to date, as well as 20 tries in 35 appearances for the Blues.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: “This is fantastic news for New Zealand Rugby. Rieko is a young player with undoubted talent who has already achieved wonderful things on the international stage. With his growing maturity and growth in his game understanding, I’m sure we’ll see his game go to even greater heights.

“Akira is also an immense talent who has a bright future in our national game and we congratulate him on his decision as well.”

Blues coach Tana Umaga added: “Rieko is an outstanding talent who works very hard at the game and is also willing to learn. He shows a level of maturity that belies his young age and this, as well as his passion for the club and region, makes him a leader of our young group."

Loose forward Akira had a breakout year in 2015, making his Blues debut, and also debuted alongside Rieko in the Maori All Blacks and for Auckland. He played for the All Blacks against a French XV last year and started every Super Rugby game for the Blues this season.

“Akira was our ‘go to’ player in the forwards this year and yet he is still so young,” said Umaga. “He’s working hard to improve his game and will become a key leader in the years to come. He has such passion for our club and for Auckland – with our players this year selecting him as the Player of the Year.”