Ex-All Black Saili double lifts Biarritz from Top 14 bottom spot

Paris (AFP) – Former New Zealand centre Francis Saili scored twice to take promoted Biarritz from the bottom of the French Top 14 with Saturday's 37-9 home win over Brive.


The Basque side were winless in four matches before hosting the 1997 European champions but Saili crossed either side of the break to send the Basque outfit above Perpignan to 13th place.

Saili returned to the starting lineup after being rested for last weekend's loss at Castres and featured alongside ex-Australia centre Tevita Kuridrani in midfield.

The ex-All Black opened his account for the season after six appearances on 18th minutes as the hosts led 10-6 at the break.

Fly-halves Brett Herron and Enzo Herve traded penalty goals before Biarritz scrum-half Tomas Cubelli, named in the Pumas' November Tests squad earlier this week, crossed.

Saili claimed his double with 10 minutes left after picking a perfect attacking lineout from short-range lineout.

Victory for Biarritz, a first since September 18, was secured in the final five minutes as Fiji loose forward Johnny Dyer scored and Saili became the provider with a delicate out-the-back-door off-load for ex-Wallabies winger Henry Speight.

Elsewhere, Saili's fellow former All Black and fly-half Lima Sopoaga scored his first Top 14 points with a conversion in Lyon's 23-18 loss at Stade Francais.

Sopoaga, who joined the French outfit from Wasps this term, was denied a maiden penalty for his new side as he took more than the 60 seconds allowed with an effort in the final quarter.

Later, South Africa's Rugby World Cup winner Handre Pollard makes his first start at centre since May 2018 as Montpellier head to Racing 92.

Australia full-back Kurtley Beale withdrew from the match hours before kick-off with a thigh issue with Pollard's Springboks team-mates present at La Defense Arena before spending next week in France ahead of travelling to play Wales on November 6.

Australian twins Richie and Rory Arnold are at lock as Toulouse host Castres almost 100 years to the day since the sides first met on October 30, 1920.

On Sunday, Toulon head coach Patrice Collazo is under pressure as he takes his outfit to former club La Rochelle.

Next weekend Top 14 clubs are set to be without their France squad members as Les Bleus prepare to host Argentina on November 6.