Saffas rise and fall in Europe
- 19 Dec 2016
SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's European Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup matches, involving South African players.
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP
– Last season's runners-up Racing 92 were knocked out of the competition after just three group games when they slumped to a humiliating 23-7 defeat against the Glasgow Warriors. No 8 Josh Strauss made his long-awaited return for the Warriors and put in a superb shift, including the opening try, which earned him the official Man of the Match award. Locks Gerbrandt Grobler and Francois van der Merwe and No 8 Antonie Claassen played for the under-fire French champions.
– The Leicester Tigers, with prop Pat Cilliers in their ranks, claimed a famous 18-16 victory over Munster, courtesy of a long range penalty in the last minute of the game. Eighthman CJ Stander and outside centre Jaco Taute started for Munster, with lock Jean Kleyn playing off the bench. Leicester, however, remain third behind the Warriors and Munster, who have a game in hand.
– Connacht, featuring lock Quinn Roux and wing Danie Poolman, snatched a controversial 20-18 victory over Wasps at the Sportsground on Saturday. Trailing Wasps by five in stoppage time, Connacht were awarded a penalty, kicked to the line and scored a converted try from there. But because the match was already into stoppage time, they should not have been allowed to kick for touch, as was confirmed by the competition organisers in a statement on Sunday. The result, however, was not reversed. Flank Ashley Johnson started for Wasps.
– Prop Gurtrö Steenkamp scored one of eight tries in Toulouse's 54-15 demolition of visitors Zebre. Prop Maks van Dyk played alongside Steenkamp for the winners. Wing Kayle van Zyl, flanks Johan Meyer and Derick Minnie, lock Gideon Koegelenberg, No 8 Christofell du Plessis and scrumhalf Carlo Engelbrecht all represented Zebre, with Meyer crossing for a try.
– Saracens claimed a record-equaling 13th straight win in the competition with a hard-fought 24-10 victory over the Sale Sharks. Flank Schalk Burger delivered a stand-out performance and won the Man of the Match award. Burger featured alongside Brad Barritt, Michael Rhodes, Petrus du Plessis and Schalk Brits for the winners, who are comfortably clear at the top of the pool standings by eight points.
– Captain Duane Vermeulen and his Toulon side suffered an agonising 22-21 defeat against the Scarlets. Wing DTH van der Merwe and prop Werner Kruger did service for the winners. Bryan Habana, Juandré Kruger and Marcel van der Merwe played for Vermeulen's Toulon, who are second on log despite the loss.
– Fullback Zane Kirchner's Leinster annihilated scrumhalf Nic Groom's Northampton Saints 60-13. The hosts ran in nine tries and conceded one on their way to a comprehensive bonus-point triumph which keeps them top on the log.
– Captain Rory Kockott led Castres to an entertaining 29-23 win over 14-man Montpellier, who lost lock Paul Willemse to a straight red card for a dnagerous clean-out at a ruck. Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis – who kicked eight points – lock Nicolaas van Rensburg, prop Jannie du Plessis, flank Wiaan Liebenberg, fullback Henry Immelman and scrumhalf Cameron Wright turned out for second-placed Montpellier.
– Clermont, with lock Flip van der Merwe on their bench, staved off a late onslaught by Ulster to secure a 38-19 bonus-point win at the Stade Marcel-Michelin. Ulster had Louis Ludik, Ruan Pienaar, Franco van der Merwe, Wiehahn Herbst and Rob Herring in their team. Clermont lead the pool with 17 points, while Ulster are joint-second with nine points.
– The Exeter Chiefs, with ex-Stormers flank Don Armand in their lineup, clinched their first Champions Cup win of the season with a 20-12 result against 14-man Bordeaux. No 5 lock Berend Botha was on duty for Bordeaux.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
– Outside centre Paul Jordaan formed part of the La Rochelle team that overpowered Gloucester 42-13 in their top-of-the-table clash. Both sides have 15 log points, but La Rachelle are top because of a better points difference.
– Treviso completed their first double in European rugby with a stunning 21-17 win over Bayonne, who they beat last week too. Flank Braam Steyn started for the winners before conceding a yellow card.
– Wing Hanno Dirksen, in his first game of the season, scored a brace of tries for the Ospreys who thumped Grenoble 71-3.
– Lyon, with Deon Fourie and Jacques-Louis Potgieter in their lineup, suffered a 48-29 defeat at the hands of the Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.
– Kevin Buys, Wilhelm Steenkamp and Johan Snyman started for Brive in their 38-18 rout of Enisei-STM. Snyman crossed for one of Brive's six tries. The result keeps Brive at the summit of the log standings, while Enisei-STM drop from second to third.
– The Newport Gwent Dragons cruised to a 22-7 victory against the Worcester Warriors at Rodney Parade. The Warriors had to play with 14 men for 65 minutes after conceding a red card in the 15th minute of the game. Dean Hammond and Nic Schonert represented the Warriors. Ligtoring Landman and Sarel Pretorius turned out for the Dragons.
– Flank Francois Louw and hooker Michael van Vuuren starred for Bath, who hammered the Cardiff Blues 38-3 at the Rec. Blues lock George Earle was red carded early in the first half for foul play. Both teams now have 13 log points.
– Replacement flyhalf Tim Swiel contributed 15 points via a try and five conversions to guide Harlequins to a 75-3 bonus-point win over Timisoara Saracens at the Stoop. The visitors conceded a red card as early as the second minute.
– Morné Steyn, Jono Ross and Craig Burden did service for Stade Français, who edged Edinburgh 26-20 in Paris. Flank Cornell du Preez earned a starting berth for Edinburgh.
Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Lions leave lasting impression
Although the Lions stumbled at the final hurdle, their Super Rugby campaign should still serve as unequivocal evidence that South African rugby can dare to be different, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Acid test for badgered Boks
The Boks are set to face their sternest physical and mental challenge of the year when they take on England at Twickenham this Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Boks have lost identity
The Springboks desperately need a leadership that will provide honesty, innovation and clear direction, writes CRAIG LEWIS.