|Sonny Bill scored for Panasonic over the weekend.|
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Arguably the biggest match-up in the Premiership this weekend was Northampton vs. Saracens. Heading into the weekend the Saints led the league and were not only looking for a win to extend their two point lead over Saracens, but the rest of the top teams as well. However, it was Saracens who came out stronger on the day and picked up an important 16-6 win. After Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler traded early penalties, it was the Saracens who collected the only try of the match when fullback Alex Goode crossed the line. Defense ruled after that with Myler only able to hit one more penalty while Farrell hit two more.
While the win takes the Saracens to the top of the league with 24 points, they are joined by Harlequins, who picked up a 31-28 win over London Irish at Madjeski Stadium. Danny Care, Tom Williams, and Tom Casson all scored for the Quins while Guy Armitage scored for the Exiles. Gloucester have been quietly moving up the table with little fanfare, but that may change after their 27-21 win over Leicester. Gloucester got on the board less than a minute into the match thanks to Charlie Sharples and never looked back. Elsewhere, London Wasps moved up the table with a 29-19 win over London Welsh while Worcester added to Sale's misery with a 23-16 win. Lastly, Bath overcame a red card to Dan Hipkiss to beat Exeter 23-15.
Toulon made no doubt of their top position in the Top 14 after they picked up a large 59-0 victory over Bayonne. Seven different players picked up tries for Toulon while Jonny Wilkinson added seven penalties. In a testament to their high-spending ways, players from five different countries scored points. Clermont remain second in the league after defeating Biarritz 19-12 last Friday. Clermont scored the only try in the match in the second minute. Toulon and Clermont's victories, coupled with Toulouse's 28-24 loss to Stade Francais mean that they have lost ground in the title race. Sergio Parisse's try in the 74th minute was the difference in the match. Other scores over the weekend include Perpignan 17-13 over Racing Metro, Montpellier 23-6 over Grenoble, and Castres 22-14 over Agen. Lastly, Mont-de-Marsan stayed at the bottom of the league with a 17-12 loss to Bordeaux. Here are the latest standings.
Ulster remained perfect in the RaboDirect Pro12 after a 46-19 demolition of the Dragons on Friday. Six different players scored for Ulster while the Dragons only managed one try and four penalties. The loss moves the Dragons to second to bottom in the table with nine points. The Scarlets strong run of form continued after they narrowly escaped from Edinburgh with e 29-28 win. The Scarlets looked like they were going to lose the match until the 78th minute with substitute Rhys Priestland hit his team's only penalty of the match to grab the win. In other scores, the Ospreys defeated Connacht 26-9 while Leinster beat Cardiff 59-22. Glasgow remained third in the table with a 24-13 victory away at Benetton Treviso, and Zebre remained winless after losing to Munster 29-3. Here are the latest standings.
Western Province put to rest an 11-year drought in the Currie Cup with a 25-18 win over the Sharks in Durban in the final. It was the Sharks that picked up an early lead thanks to two of Pat Lambie's six penalties, but it was Western Province who was more aggressive on the day. Juan de Jongh scored an important try in the 26th minute, while a dramatic wrong-footed drop goal from Demitri Catrakilis sealed the win. Also in South Africa, the Cheetahs stayed in the Currie Cup with a 16-6 win over the Eastern Province Kings.
The biggest union on the North Island and the biggest union on the South Islands clashed in the ITM Cup final as Canterbury met Auckland. It was all Canterbury in this affair as they picked up their record fifth straight title with a 31-18 win. Auckland made things interesting with a try in the third minute, but they were stonewalled from there as Canterbury showed their class. Tom Taylor scored 23 points to lead Canterbury. In the Championship division, Counties Manukau capped off their solid season with a 41-16 victory over Otago. The win means that Counties will be in the Premiership next year at the expense of Hawke's Bay.
The Top League played their last set of matches until December over the weekend, and league leaders Suntory have stayed perfect once against with a 42-19 defeat of the Fukuoka Sanix Blues. Five different players scored for Suntory while Peter Hewat hit six conversions. Sonny Bill Williams finally got on the scoreboard again for Panasonic Sanyo Wildknights as they beat the Kintetsu Liners 23-20. The try is only Williams second of the season but comes at a crucial time for his team. Elsewhere, the Kobelco Steelers stayed within reach of Suntory with a 48-14 win over the NEC Green Rockets, while the Toshiba Fuchu Brave Lupus lost ground win a tight 28-26 loss to the Ricoh Black Rams. The NTT Shining Arcs had their good run of form halted with a 24-23 loss to the Toyota Verblitz and the Yahama Jubilo beat the Canon Eagles 36-25 to stay fourth in the table. Lastly, the Kyuden Voltex added to the NTT-Docomo Red Hurricans misery by beating them 19-17.
Back in France in the ProD2, Oyonnax remained on top of the league with a 36-20 victory over Aurillac. Lyon stayed second with a 24-6 win over Colomiers and Brive are in third with a 22-18 win over Pau. Other winners include Aix-en-Provence 24-22 over Narbonne, La Rochelle 48-11 winners over Beziers, Albi 13-12 over Auch, and Carcassonne 37-20 over Dax. Massy are at the bottom of the league with a 28-26 loss to Tarbes.
Back in England, Newcastles kept their record perfect with a 33-0 win over Rotherham while Bedford stayed in second despite a 23-13 loss to Bristol. Nottingham beat Plymouth 22-31, the Cornish Pirates beat Leeds 21-8, and Doncaster beat Moseley 24-16. Jersey picked up their first win of the season by beating London Scottish 20-17.
Viadana moved to the top of the Super 10 after defeating Reggio 24-3. Petrarca are tied for second with Calvisano after they beat L'Aquila 32-3. Calvisano beat Crociati 36-10. Mogliano beat Fiamme Oro Roma 42-8 while San Dona beat Lazio 21-13.