SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's English Premiership, French Top 14 and Celtic Pro12 matches, involving South African players.
– Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers started at outside centre for the Leicester Tigers in his first match since suffering a broken jaw against Samoa at the World Cup. The Tigers lost 25-19 to Harlequins, after conceding a late converted try. Utility back Tim Swiel sat on the bench for the winners, who moved up to fourth in the standings.
– Saracens, featuring centre Brad Barritt, flank Michael Rhodes, prop Petrus du Plessis and hooker Schalk Brits, beat Gloucester 25-12 to reinstate their four-point lead at the top of the log. Barritt was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle, followed by a straight red card for Brits, who was deemed to have struck an opponent. But despite being handicapped in defence, Sarries never relinquished their lead as they held on for a vital victory.
– Ex-Bulls Wynand Olivier (centre), Francois Hougaard (scrumhalf), Gerrit-Jan van Velze (No 8), Dewald Potgieter (flank) and former Cheetahs prop Nic Schonert started for the Worcester Warriors who snapped a 13-match winless streak to defeat the Sale Sharks 31-23. Hougaard, who was on debut for the club, featured prominently as he crossed for a try in the 27th minute. Prop Brian Mujati completed Sale's match 23.
– Wasps, with Ashley Johnson at hooker, beat Bath 24-18 at the Rec to move up to third on the table. Bath, who had the services of Francois Louw on the side of the scrum, are now all but out of the race for a play-off spot as they are 14 points adrift of the top four.
– Ex-Stormers flank Don Armand turned out for the Exeter Chiefs in their 22-15 victory over the battling London Irish at the Madejski Stadium. The Chiefs remain second in the standings, while the Exiles stay rooted to the bottom of the log.
– The Newcastle Falcons stunned the Northampton Saints 26-25 to record back-to-back victories for the first time this season. Lock Mouritz Botha started for the Falcons, while Victor Matfield came on as a substitute for the sixth-ranked Saints.
– The Scarlets edged Ulster 21-20 at the Kingspan Stadium to consolidate their place in the top four. Locks David Bulbring and George Earle and wing DTH van der Merwe turned out for the winners, while Ulster handed starting berths to lock Franco van der Merwe and flank Robbie Diack. Bok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar made an appearance off the bench for Ulster.
– Top-ranked Connacht came out 51-34 victors over Zebre in their 10-try romp at the Sergio Lanfranchi Stadium in Italy. No 8 Dries van Schalkwyk, flank Johan Meyer, lock Gideon Koegelenberg and wing Kayle van Zyl all started for Zebre, with the two loose forwards both scoring a try. Ulrich Beyers was on Zebre's bench and Danie Poolman on Connacht's.
– Leinster survived a late onslaught to sneak past the Cardiff Blues 14-13 at the Arms Park. Zane Kirchner was at fullback for Leinster, who seemed to have turned their fortunes around after being bundled out of the Champions Cup, while hooker Richardt Strauss looked on from the bench.
– Eighthman Josh Strauss was named Man of the Match in the Glasgow Warriors' 27-24 win against Munster, whose season continues to dwindle. The sides are ranked seventh and eighth respectively.
– Treviso made it two wins in a row when they humbled the Newport Gwent Dragons 19-17 at Monigo Stadium. Fullback Carl Meyer, scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, lock Ligtoring Landman and prop Brok Harris were on duty for the visiting Dragons.
– Centre JJ Engelbrecht and the Ospreys secured a comfortable 27-13 win over Edinburgh at the Liberty Stadium, which saw them rise to sixth on the log. Lock Anton Bresler and No 8 Cornell du Preez were in Edinburgh's starting lineup. Lock Rynier Bernardo was among the Ospreys reserves.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Stade Français, with flyhalf Morné Steyn, No 8 Jono Ross, lock Gerhard Mostert and hooker Craig Burden in their ranks, secured a much-needed 32-17 win against Brive. In what was a rare start, Steyn took his opportunity by nailing four penalties. Lock Johan Snyman played for Brive.
– Clermont beat Castres 28-17 away from home to move up to fourth place on the log. Lock Flip van der Merwe, who started alongside prop Dan Kotzé, scored the opening try for the winners 13 minutes after kick-off. Rory Kockott was at scrumhalf for Castres.
– Bordeaux saw off Agen 24-19 at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, to move to fifth in the standings and just two points away of a place in the top four. Scrumhalf Heini Adams, prop Steven Kitshoff and lock pairing Berend Botha and Jandré Marais represented Bordeaux, while flyhalf Burton Francis, centre Johann Sadie and lock Marco Kotzé played for Agen. Francis added three first-half penalties, but relinquished the kicking duties after an injury scare.
– Pau overturned a seven-point deficit to inflict a dramatic 19-16 defeat on hosts Montpellier. Centre Robert Ebersohn, flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, lock Paul Willemse, flanks Jacques du Plessis and Wiaan Liebenberg, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and prop Jannie du Plessis turned out for Montpellier with Catrakilis kicking a late penalty, while Bismarck was yellow-carded early in the second half. Pau are 12th on the log and their victims sixth.
– Grenoble, with Gio Aplon at fullback and Charl McLeod at scrumhalf, were narrowly beaten 39-35 by Racing. Lock Francois van der Merwe and No 8 Antonie Claassen was on duty for the winners, with the latter crossing for the opening try of the match. Lock Hendrik Roodt came on for Grenoble in the last 30 minutes, while Johan Goosen started the second half at inside centre for top-of-the-table Racing.
– Scrumhalf Ricky Januarie and his La Rochelle teammates claimed a stunning 28-8 victory against Toulouse at home. The former Bok played superbly for the winners and was only withdrawn in the 70th minute.
– Wing Bryan Habana scored one of five tries in Toulon's 44-13 thrashing of hosts Oyonnax. Eighthman Duane Vermeulen featured in the run-on XV alongside Habana and former Bok teammate Juan Smith joined the action on the hour mark. For Oyonnax, Jody Jenneker started at hooker and was joined by No 8 Pedrie Wannenburg. Toulon are two points adrift of leaders Racing.
Compiled by Mariette Adams
Photo: Remy Gabalda/AFP Photo