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
– Saracens, featuring Brad Barritt (centre), Neil de Kock (scrumhalf), Michael Rhodes (lock), Petrus du Plessis (prop) and Schalk Brits (hooker), thumped Oyonnax 55-13 in London. This gave the winners four from four in the competition and a 10-point advantage at the summit of Pool 1. Oyonnax, last on the log, had flank Pedrie Wannenburg and hooker Jody Jenneker in their ranks.
– After blanking out Toulouse 38-0 a week ago, Ulster completed the double over the French side with a nervy 25-23 win at Stade Ernest Wallon. Bok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar scored one of Ulster’s three tries and was named Man of the Match for his overall influence on the game. Fullback Louis Ludik, flank Robbie Diack, lock Franco van der Merwe, hooker Rob Herring and prop Wiehahn Herbst all played alongside Pienaar for the visitors, who kept alive their chances of qualifying for the knockout stage. Props Gurthrö Steenkamp and Gert Muller did service for Toulouse, who trail Ulster by four log points, despite having played a game more.
– Bordeaux stunned the Ospreys 33-27 in a thrilling eight-try contest. Berend Botha crashed over for one of four Bordeaux tries. Scrumhalf Heini Adams also started for the winners, with prop Steven Kitshoff and lock Jandré Marais used as impact players off the wood. Hanno Dirksen completed the match 23 of the Ospreys, who secured two losing bonus points to hold on to their top spot.
– Fullback Scott Spedding and tighthead prop Dan Kotzé turned out for Clermont to help take revenge against the Exeter Chiefs with a 42-10 thumping at the Stade Marcel-Michelin. The Chiefs shocked Clermont in the reverse fixture last week, but there was no repeat performance as the hosts ran in five tries, while conceding just one. Spedding knocked over of Clermont’s penalty goals. Ex-Stormers flank Don Armand was on Chiefs duty.
– The Northampton Saints held Racing to a dull 9-9 draw at Franklin’s Gardens. The contest put Saints lock Victor Matfield up against compatriot Francois van der Merwe as both No 5s started, while No 8 Antonie Claassen and utility back Johan Goosen sat on Racing’s bench. The result sees Racing maintain a two-point lead over the Saints at the top of the table.
– Eighthman Josh Strauss’s Glasgow Warriors picked up a crucial 9-6 away victory against the Scarlets, in spite of conceding two yellow cards. The win keeps the Warriors in the hunt for a spot in the play-offs, as they are just one point adrift of Northampton with a game in hand. The Scarlets, featuring wing DTH van der Merwe and lock George Earle, are winless after four rounds.
– Captain CJ Stander (No 8) and his Munster charges suffered a 17-6 defeat against the Leicester Tigers. And while there might still be a slender mathematical chance of reaching the quarter-finals, the loss all but ends their campaign. The Tigers lead Pool 3 with eight points more than the next best side.
– Stade Français went back-to-back against Treviso, with a 40-14 rout of the Italian side in Paris. Morné Steyn was in the winners’ run-on XV and converted five out of his side’s six tries. Gerhard Mostert, Jono Ross and Meyer Bosman were among Stade’s substitutes and joined Steyn on the park in the second half. Braam Steyn was at the back of the scrum for Treviso, who are yet to claim a win.
– Ashley Johnson’s Waps crushed captain Francois Louw’s Bath 36-10 at the Rec. The win sees Wasps take a surprising six-point lead at the top of the so-called Pool of Death ahead of second-placed Toulon. Bath are level on points with Toulon, but come in third because of points differential.
– Toulon erased an 11-point half-time deficit to edge struggling Leinster 20-16 in Dublin. Boks Bryan Habana and Duane Vermeulen represented the defending champions, but it was flank Juan Smith who put in a Man of the Match shift for the winners. Smith scored Toulon’s opening try, while Vermeulen was yellow-carded in the first half for cynical infringement. Hooker Richardt Strauss started the match for Leinster and fullback Zane Kirchner came on as a reserve in the final quarter.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
– Fullback Danie Poolman's sole try wasn’t enough for Connacht, as they slumped to a 29-5 defeat at the hands of the Newcastle Falcons. The Falcons, who had lock Mouritz Botha in their run-on side, remain in second position behind their victims, who hold a slender two-point advantage at the summit of the Pool 1 table.
– Brive bounced back from their shock defeat against Enisei-STM last weekend, to beat the Russian team 33-3. Forwards Kevin Buys, Wilhelm Steenkamp and Peet Marais played for third-ranked Brive. Enisei are fourth.
– The Newport Gwent Dragons, with Carl Meyer, Sarel Pretorius, Ligtoring Landman and Brok Harris in their ranks, toppled hosts Pau 34-17. Meyer dotted down in the 49th minute to secure the fourth-try bonus point for the winners, who lead Pool 2 on 15 log points. To date, Pau are winless in the tournament, ranking fourth in this pool.
– Harlequins strengthened their stranglehold on Pool 3 with a nine-try 59-7 demolition of Calvisano at The Stoop in London. Former Sharks flyhalf Tim Swiel started at fullback for Quins and had a great game, scoring the hosts’ penultimate try. With four bonus-point wins from as many games, Quins have a maximum of 20 log points, nine clear of the second-placed Cardiff Blues.
– Montpellier snuck past the Cardiff Blues 23-22 courtesy of lock Paul Willemse’s stoppage-time try which flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis converted. The duo started for Montpellier alongside Robert Ebersohn, Wiaan Liebenberg and Jannie du Plessis, with Pat Cilliers and Cameron Wright making up the bench numbers. Prior to kicking the match-winning conversion, Catrakilis popped over two penalties and a conversion for an overall 13-point tally.
– Johan Meyer’s Man of the Match performance inspired Zebre to a commanding 25-5 triumph over La Rochelle. The flank burrowed over for one of Zebre’s three tries and with the win they moved up to second position ahead of La Rochelle, who’s only points came thanks to a last-minute consolation try by Ricky Januarie.
– A late try handed Grenoble a dramatic 48-45 win over Agen in a riveting encounter between the Top 14 sides. The heart-breaking loss made this Agen’s worst run of form in Challenge Cup history during the pool stage and sees them exit the tournament. Grenoble, who had lock Hendrik Roodt in their starting lineup, are top of the standings.
– WP Nel, Anton Bresler, Cornell du Preez and Andries Strauss all featured prominently in Edinburgh's hard-fought 18-15 win against London Irish at Murrayfield. Beaten finalists in the previous campaign, Edinburgh came from behind twice to wrap up the win. They are, however, still third in the pool behind Irish on points difference.
Compiled by Mariette Adams
Photo: Paul Faith/APF Photo