• Saffas star for Montpellier

    SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches, which involved South African players.

    EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP

    Pool 1

    – Saracens, with centre Brad Barritt, scrumhalf Neil de Kock, flank Michael Rhodes, lock Alistair Hargreaves, prop Petrus du Plessis and hooker Schalk Brits in their ranks, scored four tries to beat Ulster 27-9 at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. Fullback ​Louis Ludik, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, locks Franco van der Merwe and Robbie Diack, prop Wiehahn Herbst and hooker Rob Herring turned out for Ulster. Saracens remain top in this pool and Ulster at the bottom.

    – Hooker Jody Jenneker and loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg were in the Oyonnax team that lost 24-18 to Toulouse, who were made to work hard for their victory. The winners are second on the log, while Oyonnax come in third after picking up a losing bonus point.

    Pool 2

    – Clermont started their quest for European glory with a 34-29 bonus-point win over the Neath-Swansea Ospreys. Front-rowers Marthinus van der Westhuizen and Dan Kotzé and lock Flip van der Merwe were on Clermont's bench. Utility back Hanno Dirksen completed the Ospreys match 23. The Welsh club, though, remain at the summit of the table after securing two bonus points, while Clermont are second. 

    – Don Armand's Exeter Chiefs toppled Steven Kitshoff's Bordeaux-Begles 34-19 at Sandy Park Stadium. The Chiefs ran in four tries for the bonus-point win, while conceding three. The winners are level on points with Clermont, but despite playing one game more, Clermont have a better points difference.

    Pool 3

    – Former Lions captain Josh Strauss scored a try for the Glasgow Warriors, who were beaten 26-15 by the Northampton Saints at Scotstoun Stadium. The Saints lead the way in this pool with two wins and the Warriors are at the foot of the standings.

    – Racing inflicted a 29-12 defeat on hosts Llanelli Scarlets, despite playing with 14 men after flank Bernard le Roux was red-carded for stamping. Fullback Johan Goosen and lock Francois van der Merwe also featured for Racing, with the former slotting a long-range penalty. Wing DTH van der Merwe started for the Scarlets, who are third in Pool 3, four log points behind their conquerors, who are second.

    Pool 4

    – Benetton Treviso, with Braam Steyn at the back of their scrum, lost 36-3 against the Leicester Tigers in Italy. The Tigers claimed a second successive bonus-point win and lead Pool 4. Treviso are last, behind Munster and Stade Français, with their game postponed.

    Pool 5

    – Toulon's title defence got off to the worst possible start as they were crushed 32-6 by Wasps at the Ricoh Arena. Springboks Bryan Habana and Juan Smith started for Toulon, who looked short of ideas against the spirited Wasps. Hooker Ashley Johnson came on as an injury replacement for the winners early in the first half, playing a big role in Wasps' forward dominance. Bok No 8 Duane Vermeulen made his debut for Toulon off the wood in the 51st minute. The result elevates Wasps to top of the pool, while Toulon linger at the bottom.

    Francois Louw led Bath to a hard-fought 19-16 win over Leinster at the Recreation Ground in their opening game of the competition. Louw's Springbok teammate Zane Kirchner sat on the Leinster bench. Bath are in second place on the log and Leinster third, but Leinster have already played two games.

    EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP

    Pool 1

    – Tighthead prop Kevin Buys and locks Johan Snyman and Wilhelm Steenkamp featured in the Brive starting lineup that lost 21-17 to Connacht at The Sportsground. Connacht are in first place in this pool and Brive third.

    Pool 2

    – Fullback Carl Meyer scored a try and knocked over a penalty, but it wasn't enough as the Newport Gwent Dragons suffered a 32-29 defeat against Castres. Scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius started alongside Meyer, and lock Ligtoring Landman was their captain. Castres secured a bonus-point victory, but still trail their victims by a point on the log.

    – Prop Brian Mujati scored a crucial try for the Sale Sharks, who battled past Pau 29-20. Lock Claude Dry was included in the Pau run-on XV. The teams are third and fourth on the table respectively.

    Pool 3

    – Harlequins ran out 32-20 victors against the Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park. Former Sharks fullback Tim Swiel came off Quins' bench to knock over the team's final conversion. With two bonus-point wins in two games Harlequins are clear at the summit of the table. The Blues are third.

    – After losing to Harlequins a week earlier, Jake White's Montpellier side made a big statement with a 64-0 demolition of Calvisano at the Altrad Stadium. Centre Robert Ebersohn and lock Paul Willemse each scored one of seven tries for the winners and flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis added three conversions after coming on as a substitute. Prop CJ van der Linde and Pat Cilliers were also in Montpellier's match-day squad. They are second on the pool log.

    Pool 4

    – Zebre, featuring lock Quintin Geldenhuys, flank Johan Meyer and No 8 Dries van Schalkwyk, ousted the Worcester Warriors 27-8. Fullback Kayle van Zyl was among Zebre's reserves. Both teams have four log points, but Zebre are in second position thanks to a better points difference.

    Pool 5 

    – Edinburgh extended their lead at the summit of the table with a vital 27-7 away win over Agen. Prop WP Nel and lock Anton Bresler played for Edinburgh, but it was compatriot, No 8 Cornell du Preez, who went over for one of their three tries.

    – Gio Aplon, Charl McLeod, Hendrik Roodt and Rossouw de Klerk turned out for Grenoble, who edged London Irish 27-20. Irish rank second in this pool to make it an all-English top two, with Grenoble in third and fellow Top 14 opponents Agen fourth.

    Compiled by Mariette Adams

    Photo: Montpellier-rugby.com

    Post by

    Mariette Adams