SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s English Premiership, Pro14 and French Top 14 matches involving South African players.
– Saracens smashed city-rivals London Irish 51-14 to secure a home semi-final. Sarries outscored Irish seven tries to two, with centre Brad Barritt, flank Michael Rhodes and hooker Schalk Brits all scoring tries. Flank Schalk Burger and prop Vincent Koch also played for Saracens. Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl, locks Franco van der Merwe and Sebastian de Chaves and prop Petrus du Plessis were on duty for Irish, who were relegated back to the second division.
– The Worcester Warriors – with Francois Hougaard, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Nick Schonert and Dean Hammond in their ranks – registered a vital 44-13 win against Harlequins at Sixways to ensure they stay in the Premiership. Hougaard crossed for one of Worcester’s seven tries.
– Centre Juan de Jongh scored the decisive try as Wasps beat the Northampton Saints 36-29 to seal their place in the top four. Willie le Roux was at fullback for Wasps, while his ex-Bok and Sharks teammate Cobus Reinach started at scrumhalf for Northampton.
– The Exeter Chiefs lashed the Sale Sharks 34-19 to confirm their status as the top-ranked side in the competition. Flank Don Armand did service for the Chiefs, while scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, captain Jono Ross and replacement No 8 Josh Strauss featured for Sale.
– Bok flank Francois Louw produced a Man of the Match performance for Bath in their 43-20 demolition of Gloucester. Ruan Ackermann was on the bench for Gloucester, who cannot finish in the top four.
“It’s been a tough run for us and there’s nothing like a derby day to pick us up.”
Francois Louw on his man-of-the-match performance during Bath’s derby day heroics �� pic.twitter.com/aZak7UD3C2
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 28, 2018
– Prop Werner Kruger and lock David Bulbring both came off the bench for the Scarlets in their 33-8 win against the Dragons, which secured them a home semi-final qualifier against the Cheetahs. Former Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner started at outside centre for the Dragons, with Ligtoring Landman at lock and scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius coming off the bench in the second half.
– Connacht ended their season on a high with a 47-10 hammering of a second-string Leinster side. Lock Quinn Roux started for Connacht.
– Zebre managed to hold on for a 22-17 win against Italian rivals Treviso. Flank Johan Meyer was in Zebre’s starting XV, while they had hooker Luhandré Luus and flank Derick Minnie on the bench.
– Former Stormers lock Gerbrant Grobler was in great form for Munster as they came from behind to claim a 24-24 draw with Ulster, ending Ulster’s hopes of reaching the playoffs. Fullback Louis Ludik started for Ulster, who named hooker Rob Herring on the bench, with Jean Kleyn among Munster’s substitutes.
– The Ospreys produced a late rally to beat the Cardiff Blues 26-23. Hanno Dirksen started on the wing for the Ospreys.
– Former Bulls wing Duhan van der Merwe scored the decisive try for Edinburgh in their 24-19 win over the Glasgow Warriors. Jaco van der Walt started at flyhalf for Edinburgh, who had WP Nel and Cornell du Preez on the bench. DTH van der Merwe scored a brace for the Warriors, but it was not enough for them to secure the win.
– Montpellier wrapped up top position with a 45-13 bonus-point win over Pau. Frans Steyn, Bismarck du Plessis and Paul Willemse were three of Montpellier’s six try-scorers, while Ruan Pienaar kicked six conversions and a penalty for a 100% record off the tee. Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Henry Immelman were on the winners’ bench.
– Stade Français beat Brive 30-22 in Paris. Loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe was in Stade’s run-on XV, but it was replacements Willem Alberts and Morné Steyn who made a big impact when they came on in the second half. Steyn also knocked over an important drop goal. Brive, with Peet Marais at No 4, were relegated following the loss.
– James Hall and Steven Sykes were part of the Oyonnax side that defeated Lyon 39-18. Locks Etienne Oosthuizen and Francois van der Merwe and flank Deon Fourie were on duty for Lyon, who are now fifth on the log.
– Flip van der Merwe and his Clermont teammates slumped to a 27-17 defeat at the hands of Agen. Scrumhalf Ricky Januarie started for Agen, who moved up to 11th in the standings.
– Toulon clinched one of the six available playoff positions with a 59-13 hammering of Castres. Captain Duane Vermeulen was joined in Toulon’s starting lineup by Juandré Kruger and Marcel van der Merwe. Centre Robert Ebersohn, No 9 Rory Kockott, prop Dan Kötze and hooker Jody Jenneker ran out for Castres, who are currently occupying the last playoff spot.
– Racing’s chances of finishing second and clinching an automatic semi-final berth were boosted with a one-sided 39-15 bonus-point win against Bordeaux. Antonie Claassen, Bernard le Roux and replacement Pat Lambie turned out for Racing. Flyhalf Tian Schoeman and lock Jandré Marais were in Bordeaux’s lineup.
– Wings Cheslin Kolbe and Wandile Mjekevu featured for Toulouse in their hard-fought 19-14 win over La Rochelle. Toulouse are now just one log point adrift of Racing.
Compiled by Mariette Adams & Dylan Jack
Photo: Henry Browne/Getty Images