Northampton went third in the Guinness Premiership with a 26-17 win against Harlequins at Franklin's Gardens yesterday. The game saw the return from suspension of Tom Williams, the player who was at the centre of the summer's "Bloodgate" fake-injury scandal. The Quins winger suffered a genuine blood injury this time and required extensive treatment.
Harlequins' coach, John Kingston, said: "It was ironic that he had a bang on the nose and we were struggling to quell the blood. However it was great to have him back, he is a very level-headed boy and has conducted himself well throughout all of this. All the squad are very supportive."
Bruce Reihana, Juandre Kruger and Soane Tonga'uiha scored tries for Northampton and Stephen Myler kicked a conversion and three penalties. Josh Drauniniu scored two tries for Harlequins; Nick Evans kicked a conversion and a penalty and Mike Brown another conversion.
Kingston, who saw Williams denied a try after a pass from David Strettle was adjudged to have gone forward, was not happy with the performance of the referee. He said: "You have to be around eight to 10 points better to succeed on away grounds. That tends to be the way it is. I don't wish to be rude to Peter [Allan] but with 13,000 cheering it's hard to give a decision in our favour."
Northampton's coach, Jim Mallinder said: "I think we had the edge. We got our basics right. We ran the ball at the right times and took all our opportunities."
In Udine, South Africa won for the first time on their European tour, beating Italy 32-10. Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie, Fourie du Preez and Wynand Olivier scored tries for the Springboks, with Morne Steyn kicking two conversions and two penalties and Ruan Pienaar one conversion. Gonzalo Garcia scored a try for an Italy team supervised by the former South Africa coach Nick Mallet; Craig Gower kicked the conversion and a penalty.
Fourie, the centre who scored a memorable try against the Lions in the summer, said: "It's been an amazing season. Next week's game against Ireland in Dublin [at Croke Park] is going to be a big one for us and hopefully we can pull it off to end a good year."
In Paris, France continued their good form with a 43-5 win against the Samoa team who had pushed Wales so close in Cardiff last week. Dimitri Szarze-wski, Vincent Clerc, Yannick Jauzion, Thierry Dusautoir and Benjamin Fall scored one try each and François Trinh-Duc scored two. Morgan Parra kicked four conversions. Joe Tekori scored Samoa's try.
France will face New Zealand in Marseilles on Saturday night.