While the Gardens was home to the Saints’ second Anglo-Welsh Cup win in two weeks, this weekend proved a busy one for the Saints players away on International duty. With six of the ten players currently with their respective countries on the winning side, there was plenty of Saints action across the world this weekend.
First off Campese Ma’afu and Api Ratuniyarawa headed to the Kingspan Stadium to face Barbarians FC with Fiji on Friday night. The Barbarians racked up six tries in a tantalising show of skill to win 40-7 and stay unbeaten in their three Autumn fixtures having drawn with South Africa 31-31 and beaten Czech Republic 71-0 earlier in the week.
Fiji were only to score once but the movement was set up with some help from the Saints duo; Ma’afu scooped up the ball in the loose and Ratuniyarawa sucked in three Baa Baas to give Waisea Nayacalevu room to race into the corner.
Next came Twickenham, another spell at skipper for Dylan Hartley, a re-call for Tom Wood and a 50th England cap for Courtney Lawes as the country hosted South Africa in the first of their Old Mutual Wealth Series fixtures.
While the Springboks opened the scoring through Pat Lambie, tries for the home nation through Jonny May, George Ford, Owen Farrell and Saints’ own Lawes pushed England to their first win over the Boks in 10 years as the game ended 37-21.
Saints’ attention then moved to Cardiff and the Principlaity Stadium, where George North lined up for Wales as they faced Argentina. The Welshmen, desperate to react after last weekend’s loss to Australia, found themselves with a tough fight on their hands in the Argentinians.
Despite the game going into half-time with just nine points in total on the scoreboard, the incredibly close affair ended in a narrow victory for North and his country as the home nation took a 24-20 win sealed with a late Leigh Halfpenny penalty.
Toulouse was the next port of call for Saints’ Internationals as Louis Picamoles and France played host to George and Ken Pisi and Samoa. The brothers came up short, however, and went down to a strong French side, Picamoles and his teammates taking a 52-8 win over their guests.
The Frenchmen overpowered their guests and with three tries already on the board at the half-time break went on to score three more as well as pick up a penalty try before the game was over. Samoa did cross the whitewash for a try of their own in the 42nd minute but the home nation and King Louis stormed their way to victory over Samoa and the Pisis.
The final Saint in International action was new-boy Nafi Tuitavake as he lined up for Tonga in Madrid where the Islanders dominated their European hosts to win 28-13 and earn their first victory after five straight losses in the International world.
The Tongans scored two tries each half to keep their Spanish hosts at bay as Tuitavake lined up beside fellow Aviva Premiership players Sonatane Takulua, David Halaifonua and Elvis Taione.