George Smith helped the Suntory Sungoliaths to a 13th straight win in the 2016-17 Top League, with a 41-24 win over Yamaha.
Smith’s 11 tackles and three turnovers were pivotal in the win, after a top of the table showdown left them as the only undefeated side in the Top League this season.
Wycliff Palu was solid for Toyota Verblitz, playing 57 minutes in a tight 32-31 loss to Toshiba Brave Lupus.
It was another tough afternoon for Digby Ioane and Hugh McMeniman’s Honda Heat, with the Heat going down 40-3 to the NTT Shining Arcs.
Scott Higginbotham played a full match for NEC as the Green Rockets clinched a 27-3 win over the Coca-Cola Red Sparks.
Nice to meet you yesterday. Great support in Fukuoka. Thank you https://t.co/SuDwvBnUjl— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) December 25, 2016
David Pocock played just 55 minutes as Panasonic trounced newcomers Munakata Sanix, 55-14.
The Top League will have a New Year’s break before the final two rounds play out in mid-January.
Kurtley Beale’s Premiership debut went off without a hitch, as Wasps beat out Bath, 40-26, on Christmas Eve.
Beale played fullback in a 67-minute stint for his new club, making 86 metres in attack, as winger Christian Wade notched a first-half double to put Wasps on the front foot.
Ben Tapuai scored a 66th minute try for Bath, lining up at inside centre in the clash, playing out the full match for the English side.
Dave Dennis made eight tackles in a 60-minute involvement for Exeter, as they bested Peter Betham’s Leicester 31-10.
Greg Holmes came off the bench for the Chiefs in the 55th minute of the win, replacing Tomas Francis, while Betham played the full 80 for the Tigers.
Cooper Vuna had an impressive defensive outing for Worcester, winning two turnovers on the wing in a 28-20 loss to Bristol.
Harlequins take on Gloucester on Wednesday morning (AEDT) but neither James Horwill nor Salesi Ma’afu has been named in the clash.
Lock Sitaleki Timani nabbed a Boxing Day treat, scoring the match sealing try against Stade Francais, as Clermont flogged the Paris team, 46-10.
Will Genia had his own five-pointer for Stade Francais, finishing off a strong set piece, but it was one of just two tries for his team on the night.
Ben Mowen and Pau clinched a thrilling win over Adam Ashley-Cooper’s Bordeaux, 18-16, with a 79th minute score nabbing the victory.
Mowen played just 35 minutes of the win, replaced by Paddy Butler just before half-time, while Ashley-Cooper and lock Luke Jones played the full 80 minutes for Bordeaux.
Montpellier took the bragging rights in a 33-29 win over Toulon, stacked with Aussies.
Toulon’s Liam Gill was the only Aussie to get on the score sheet, with a 74th-minute try sparking a late comeback from his side, but it wasn’t enough to get them over the line.
James O’Connor played a full game at inside centre for Toulon, while Joe Tomane was Montpellier’s 13 for the 80 minutes and scrumhalf Nic White came off in the 78th minute.
The win put Montpellier in second spot, behind Clermont.
It was a tough day for Mike Harris, who played 77 minutes at flyhalf for Lyon, in a 22-6 loss to Brive.
Freddie Michalak booted Lyon’s only points in the defeat, kicking two penalties.
Peter Kimlin played 80 minutes for Grenoble as they pulled off a shock upset over Toulouse last Friday morning (AEDT).