With the break from Six Nation this week, the Zurich premiership sides and French Top 14 sides were at full strength which meant that many of the fringe men stepped aside, however there were still 7 Irish men involved in the weekend’s action.
Gareth Steenson and Jeremy Staunton led the way in the points scoring stakes with the Irish men contributing 34 points between them, although Staunton is this weekend’s star man as even though his missed two kicks, his 16 point haul included a crucial try.
At Kingston Park former Munster player Jeremy Manning started on the bench for the Newcastle Falcons as they went down 23-13 to Exeter. Manning came in the second half to play the final 16 minutes but could not prevent defeat. Dungannon man Gareth Steenson was the difference between the two sides as his trustworthy kicking contributing 18 points, 9 of which came in the final 14 minutes when the teams were separated by just one point.
Lock Tom Hayes, like Steenson started and finished for Exeter, with the Chief’s remaining 9th in the table just behind more established sides Wasps and London Irish.
Northampton went down 38-8 away to Bath to move to within just two points of the Saints’ fourth spot. Wilson, who has been cited for allegedly stamping or trampling on Saracens’ back-rower Ernst Joubert on February 12, played the full 80 minutes for Northampton but could not prevent a morale deflating defeat.
In the Northwest of England, Kyle Tonetti played 58 minutes for Sale in their 21-9 defeat to Harlequins with former Ulster flanker Neil McMillan playing the final 9 minute. While Limerick man Jeremy Staunton was the difference as his 16 points helped Leicester to a 21-12 win over Wasps. Staunton’s haul included a try, conversion and 3 penalties, one of which was from 42 yards.
Finally there was little to report from France as both David McGowan and John O’Sullivan were once again missing as La Rochelle and Agen were in action in Top 14 in France. Agen beat money bags Toulon 23-13 at home while La Rochelle went down to Racing Metro Paris 32-24 at home.