Sun, 01 Aug 2021

Toulon - Former New Zealand wing Julian Savea scored as Toulon crushed Agen 44-25 on Saturday in the opening round of the French Top 14 campaign.

Savea, 29, who failed to score until three months into last season, was joined by former Georgia forward Mamuka Gorgodze and former France youth international Julien Heriteau on the scoreboard, who both claimed doubles.

The 54-time All Black's future at Stade Felix Mayol had been in doubt last year after owner Mourad Boudjellal froze him out following a series of underwhelming displays.

He is likely to see more game time this season playing, unusually at centre, as former France midfielder Mathieu Bastareaud has left the club and Australian Duncan Paia'aua ruled out for several weeks with an Achilles injury, although England's Ben Te'o as arrived as Rugby World Cup cover.

Elsewhere, France wing Noa Nakaitaci scored twice as Lyon hammered Stade France 43-9.

Fijian-born Nakaitaci, who won the last of his 17 caps in March 2017, dotted down in both halves as last season's losing semi-finalists began the campaign by thrashing the billionaire-backed Parisians.

Promoted Bayonne claimed a shock victory at ambitious Racing 92, overcoming the capital city outfit 24-17.

Former All Blacks flyhalf Aaron Cruden missed two penalty kicks as Montpellier lost 26-25 to 2018 champions Castres.

The first red card of the campaign was shown to Pau's Mathieu Ugena for charging with his arm as the flank's side beat promoted Brive 33-14.

Later on Saturday champions Toulouse travel to Bordeaux-Begles to begin the defence of their record 20th title.

On Sunday, losing finalists Clermont host La Rochelle in Ronan O'Gara's first game in charge of the visitors' backs.

French Top 14 results on Saturday:

Bordeaux-Begles 30 Toulouse 25

Racing 17 Bayonne 24

Castres 26 Montpellier 25

Agen 25 Toulon 44

Lyon 43 Stade Francais 9

Pau 33 Brive 14

Playing on Sunday:

Clermont v La Rochelle - 16:50

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