Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe and several other Springboks produced powerhouse displays in the European Champions Cup round of 16 this past weekend.
A lot has been said and written about the Springboks’ preparedness and form heading into the British & Irish Lions series later this year. But head coach Jacques Nienaber would be all too pleased about the form of several Springbok candidates and that of nailed-on squad members De Allende and Kolbe in particular.
In a thrilling clash at Thomond Park, Kolbe‘s Toulouse edged De Allende’s Munster 40-33. As is almost always the case, Kolbe was influential for his team, making 30 run metres from seven carries and completing nine crucial tackles.
But it was De Allende who produced a blockbuster performance, even if it was in a losing cause. The inside centre made 48 run metres from eight ball carries, he strung together 10 passes, completed nine tackles, produced a try assist, made one stunning clean break and pulled off one offload.
Elsewhere, fullback Dillyn Leyds bagged a crucial try to help La Rochelle clinch a 27-16 away win over Gloucester, whose only try was scored by Ruan Ackermann. Leyds ran 86m, made three clean breaks and completed an offload, while his teammate Raymond Rhule also made telling contribution of 45 run metres, 11 carries and one clean break.
The Sale Sharks’ Bok contingent – Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Rob du Preez, Faf de Klerk, Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez, Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen – as well their compatriot, Cobus Wiese, were all industrious in their 57-14 dismantling of the Scarlets, but none more so than Van der Merwe who bagged a brace of tries in the rout.
Loose forwards Jacques Vermeulen and Jannes Kirsten performed admirably for the Exeter Chiefs in their 47-25 demolition of Lyon. Hooker Joseph Dweba enjoyed a 25-minute cameo off the bench during which he barged over for a crucial try to guide Bordeaux to a 36-17 win over the Bristol Bears.
Photo: Munster Rugby