Sakura vs Ino.
The battle wasn't that suspenseful, it was basically a battle between two girls who used to be friends. Saito could only sight Akane would have had a bigger chance of winning if she fought against those one of those two.
The next battle was Tenten vs Temari, they both showed excellent ninja tools use but Temari won in the end using her wind release jutsus strengthened by her fan.
Shikamaru vs Kin from the sound village, was a great battle of strategies, but Shikamaru won in the end making use of his own enemy's weapons.
Naruto vs Kiba, Saito found it interesting how Kiba fought and coordinated with his dog. At first Naruto was losing and for some reason he wasn't using any jutsus. But in the end he managed to win against him in the weirdest way possible. After failing to raise his Chakra he farted at Kiba who was going to attack him, Kiba's senses where enhanced using his clans jutsu, which ended up with him almost blacking out from the stink. After that he used an interesting jutsu to create a perfect clone of himself and bombarded Kiba with kicks wining the combat with that.
Saito looked at Yamato.
Saito: "Sensei, that jutsu that Naruto used it's similar to water clone right."
Saito: "But he didn't change the nature of his chakra, I never heard of clone that could fight and is created using chakra with no Nature change."
Yamato: "That's actually a forbidden jutsu, Shadow clone Jutsu created by the 2nd Hokage. It has a limitless potential but it uses a great deal of Chakra so most ninja's need to have at least Chunin level Chakra reserves to create a clone otherwise they will suffer from chakra exhaustion, and the most interesting aspect of this jutsu and the reason why it's a forbidden jutsu is that the moment the clones are released the user receives all of the clone's experience including mental trauma."
Saito's eyes opened in surprise. This jutsu really had limitless potential after some thinking he had an idea.
Saito: "Yamato sensei, can you teach me this jutsu, I believe that if I use it I should be able to increase my trainings efficiency."
Saito was in need of power and currently he needed to train his Taijutsu, Ninjutsu and Chakra control. He had only one body so it's hard for him to reach his current level if he didn't put every minute he had into training.
Yamato was in deep taught, he told Saito about this jutsu because he wanted to give him another way to increase his strength. As a teacher he was quite proud of his Team all of them where hardworking but he was most impressed by Saito, who put every second of his free time to increase his strength and help his teammates. Saito was the weakest of his teammates when they first started. But slowly and with hard work he slowly trained and now he was one of the strongest Genin in the village.
Yamato: "I will teach you later after asking for the hokage's permission, but remember that with your current chakra reserves you could at most create two clones without suffering from chakra exhaustion if you try to create a third one you might cripple yourself. For the moment concentrate on the exam."
Saito was elated but he suddenly realized, Naruto could create more than five clones. He wondered how much chakra that guy had and that's without taking the kyuubi into account. He learned from some history books about the third ninja war that the Hachibi's host could use the tailed beast's chakra to increase his combat power to terrifying levels.
The next contenders where decided, Neji Huga vs Hinata Huga. Saito started watching with great interest, Hinata was a little stiff at first but after Naruto started cheering for her she became determined.
Saito looked at Naruto. Naruto was an idiot who has no awareness of his surroundings. Hinata showed all the signs of a girl in love but he was unaware of that. He had a crush on Sakura who on the other hand showed all the signs of being in love with Sasuke, not giving Naruto a single glance.
The battle began and Saito was amazed at the splendid display of taijutsu. To some of the spectators their power was equal. But to the more experienced ninja's or people with enough knowledge about taijutsu, Hinata didn't manage to land even a single hit while Neji slowly landed attacks at unexpected angles. Soon the battle ended, but Neji started talking about fate and destiny and how inevitable it is. Looking down on Hinata, that angered Saito quite a bit but he didn't act.
Saito could only laugh inside, he more than anyone present knew that Fate can be changed it's just that it took a huge amount of effort, preparation and luck.
Naruto suddenly jumped down and started confronting Neji just as he was about to attack. Both Lee and Saito jumped in front of him holding him from attacking. After that Lee and Saito told him to wait until the official match to fight. The situation was diffused without any battles.
Surprisingly the next battle was Lee vs Gaara from Suna.
Lee was pumped but his opponent didn't seem to care that much. Saito felt something was wrong with Gaara. He felt that something was off.
Lee was using his best speed to lunch attacks but the sand that came from the ground on his back blocked the attacks. Lee wasn't fast enough and soon he was pushed back by Gaara's Sand. After that he talked with Gai asking for the liberty to remove his weights. The others started laughing but Saito knew how heavy those weights where and soon the laughter turned into shock because the moment the weights touched the ground. A rumbling sound followed. The whole room trembled. The following scene was truly cinematic. Lee's speed increased so much that the sand could no longer follow.
Garaa managed to avoid a deadly attack used by Lee. And soon he started torturing Lee who was suffering from the backlash of the technique.
Garaa's attacks became more and more cruel. Sudently Lee unleashed a huge burst of power. Saito knew that Lee learned the Inner gates release technique. But he didn't expect him to be able to unlock 5 gates.
Saito felt the power released by Lee, it was on another level. Kakashi seemed angry at Gai for teaching Lee this technique.
Lee overpowered Gaara with his increased speed and power. After landing a final hit Lee finally released the technique and directly fell to his knees. Gaara was in tatters and his sand Armor was broken but he could still move while Lee already lost consciousness but to Saito's surprise even unconscious he still kept moving. Gaara started to move sand in order to catch Lee.
Saito jumped from his place while screaming at the proctor.
Saito: "He already lost consciousness, stop the match."
Gaara didn't stop his attack and his sand warped around Lee's left leg and hand.
Gaara started making a grabbing motion with his hand and Saito felt shivers he unconsciously knew what will follow. As fast as he could, he activated Chakra Sword and destroyed the link between Gaara and his sand. He could only hope that this will stop his technique. And luckily that was the case Gaara could control sand around him without any contact but at longer distance he needs to use the sand as a link to control his technique.
Gaara still didn't stop his attacks, seeing his failed attack he made another attempt wish was blocked directly by Gai. Who at that moment had a firm look on his face. He looked at Saito with gratitude.
Gai: "Thank you."
Saito was surprised this was the first time he saw Gai talk this seriously. He knew that if he didn't stop that last attack Lee would have lost the use of his left limbs.
Saito nodded and started using Mystical palm technique to heal the damage from the gate release. Lee suffered from torn muscles and bone fractures. Soon the medical nin responsible for the exam came in and checked on Lee.
After talking with Gai and informing him that Lee will be okay. Gai went with Lee to the hospital while Saito returned to his teammates.
Yamato sneakily talked to him.
Yamato: "You did great."
Yamato was happy that Saito interfered. When Saito jumped he wanted to stop him, but when he saw the following events he was happy that Saito stopped the battle.
The battle that followed was Chouji vs Dosu Kinuta a ninja from the sound village. Chouji did great at the first half of the battle but at last his opponent used sound to attack his body from the inside. Sending it through the water in Chouji's body. Saito was disappointed but Chouji still put up a good fight.
Akira was lucky enough to win by default due to the absence of his opponent.
With this the Preliminary Round ended and they were given a week to prepare for the finals.