Saints internationals working hard abroad
Monday, June 19, 2017
This weekend saw eight Saints players in international action across the globe, with three of the six games Saints were involved in ending in wins for the men who normally wear black, green and gold.
It was an early start for any avid supporters of the Saints abroad as Nafi Tuitavake and Tonga prepared to take on Wales on Friday morning. Despite only trailing by five points at the break, Tonga fell to their Welsh guests 24-6 as Tuitavake faced off with plenty of Aviva Premiership rivals.
Next came New Zealand's first outing of the summer as they hosted Samoa in Auckland. Ahsee Tuala started for Samoa, while Ken Pisi made his appearance from the bench in the second 40. The All Blacks asserted their dominance on the South Sea Islanders, however, and though Samoa showed elements of strong attack, the hosts kept them scoreless as they posted a huge 78-0 win.
Saturday morning saw the Saints' internationals' first win of the weekend. Api Ratuniyarawa started for Fiji as they took on Italy in their second test of the summer. The Saints lock put in a huge shift alongside his Islander teammates to secure the win over their European visitors, the final score 22-19.
Next came, perhaps, the most eagerly awaited game of the weekend. The British and Irish Lions took on their fifth opponents of their New Zealand tour so far, facing the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua. Though conditions were not ideal George North and the other wingers, the Lions held out to produce an important win as they played the penultimate game before the first Test against the All Blacks, beating the Maori 32-10.
The last game of Saturday saw two Saints take on Argentina with England in the second and final Test of their tour. Captained by Dylan Hartley, a young England side, with Piers Francis making his first start in the white jersey, managed produced a strong second half to get the win in Santa Fe. With everything tied up just before the break, it was left to Francis to claw back a lead for England as the centre collected a cross field kick to dot down on his first start. England then maintained that lead, adding two more tries to their tally, to secure the win and the Series victory in Argentina.
The final international game of the weekend saw attentions turn to Tbilisi, Georgia for the World Rugby U20 Championship Final, where the reigning champions England U20s faced off with New Zealand for the title. Though Alex Mitchell and James Grayson began the game on the bench, the pair produced two of the game's best moments for England. Mitchell scored his fourth try of the competition after cutting a clever line through his opposition and Grayson, too, made a large impact after coming on, sending a well-placed cross field kick over for England's final try of the game. Their efforts, however, were not enough to stop a forceful Baby Blacks side as the New Zealanders lifted the trophy.