SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's European Champions Cup, European Challenge Cup and English Premiership matches, involving South African players.
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP SEMI-FINALS
– Saracens held off Wasps' late surge to win their semi-final clash 24-17. Inside centre Brad Barritt, flank Michael Rhodes, prop Petrus du Plessis and hooker Schalk Brits started for Sarries, who were on the back foot from the start, as Wasps scored 75 seconds after kick-off. Rhodes, though, got the winners on the board with a try originating from a charge-down and from thereon in, Saracens dominated. Scrumhalf Neil de Kock was used off the winners' bench. Hooker Ashley Johnson was a Wasps substitute, making an immediate impact with a 75th-minute try. But, in the end it was too little too late.
– Racing edged the Leicester Tigers 19-16 to reach the Champions Cup final for the first time. Outside centre Johan Goosen, back rowers Bernard le Roux and Antonie Claassen and lock Francois van der Merwe turned out for Racing, who led from beginning to end despite the tight finish. Goosen was in superb form for the visitors. He scored a brilliant individual try, which was disallowed. He then suffered a knock to the head, went off for a concussion test and returned in time to kick crucial penalty in the 73rd minute.
The final between Racing and Saracens will take place on 14 May at the Grand Stade in Lyon.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP SEMI-FINALS
– Harlequins booked their place in the Challenge Cup final with a thumping 30-6 victory over Grenoble at The Stoop. Fullback Gio Aplon and scrumhalf Charl McLeod started for Grenoble, whose only points came in the first half.
– Montpellier, with eight South Africans in their match 23 and under the guidance of coach Jake White, beat the Newport Gwent Dragons 22-12 to reach their first-ever European final. Centres Frans Steyn and Robert Ebersohn started in tandem for Montpellier, with Demetri Catrakilis at flyhalf, Pierre Spies at No 8, Paul Willemse at lock, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis in the front row and flank Wiaan Liebenberg on the bench. Catrakilis slotted five straight penalties, before Bismarck scored a converted try from the back of a driving maul for a 22-0 lead. The Dragons responded with two late tries, including one by in-form fullback Carl Meyer, but it was scant consolation. Scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, lock Ligtoring Landman and tighthead prop Brok Harris featured alongside Meyer for the Dragons.
The final between Harlequins and Montpellier will take place on 13 May at the Grand Stade in Lyon.
– The Sale Sharks, with prop Brian Mujati in their ranks, lost 32-26 to Bath in their rescheduled round-nine clash at The Rec. The hosts led 17-0 at the break and Sale fought back to within striking distance in the second half, but the points difference was just to great to overturn.The losing bonus point, though, sees Sale rise to fifth on the log above the Northampton Saints.
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