SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's English Premiership, French Top 14 and Celtic Pro12 matches, involving South African players.
– Lock Victor Matfield played his first full match for the Northampton Saints in their 38-18 victory over the Worcester Warriors at Franklin's Gardens. Centre Wynand Olivier, scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, flank Dewald Potgieter and prop Nic Schonert all started for the Warriors, with Olivier scoring one of their two tries.
– A late try saw the Sale Sharks, with prop Brian Mujati in their ranks, snatch a 36-36 draw against Saracens at the AJ Bell Stadium. Prop Petrus du Plessis and flank Michael Rhodes were on duty for Sarries, who remain top of the log. The stalemate sees Sale maintain their unbeaten record at home this season.
– Gloucester routed the Newcastle Falcons 32-6, to move up to seventh on the log. Lock Mouritz Botha featured off the bench for the visitors, who could only produce two penalty goals.
– The Exeter Chiefs ground out a 26-17 victory over Bath at Sandy Park, cutting Sarries' lead at the top of the table to just three points. Two ex-Stormers flanks Don Armand and Francois Louw earned starting berths, with the former turning out for the winners and the latter for Bath.
– Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers scored his first try for the Leicester Tigers in their 47-20 thrashing of London Irish at Welford Road. The victory takes the Tigers up to fourth, while the Exiles stay rooted to the bottom of the log, five points adrift of the 11th-ranked Worcester Warriors.
– Wasps, who had hooker Ashley Johnson in reserve, scored six tries to hammer Harlequins 42-19 at the Ricoh Arena. Flyhalf Tim Swiel sat on Quins' bench but failed to make an appearance. Wasps are third after 14 rounds, but Harlequins dropped to sixth.
– The Glasgow Warriors, with Josh Strauss at No 8, secured a 18-15 away win against the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade. Fullback Carl Meyer, scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, lock Ligtoring Landman and prop Brok Harris featured for the hosts, but failed to contribute any points.
– The table-topping Connacht continued their winning ways with a 30-22 defeat of the Ospreys at home. Bok centre JJ Engelbrecht and lock Rynier Bernardo were on duty for Ospreys, while wing Danie Poolman was given a short cameo off Connacht's bench.
– Edinburgh battled to a 24-23 win over the Scarlets at Murrayfield to stay in the hunt for a spot in the play-offs. Lock Anton Bresler and eighthman Cornell du Preez played for the winners, while locks George Earle and David Bulbring represented the third-placed Scarlets.
– Ulster slumped to a shock 23-13 defeat at the hands of the Cardiff Blues at The Arms Park. Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, lock Franco van der Merwe and flank Robbie Diack were named in Ulster's run-on XV. Despite the win, the Blues are still in the bottom half of the table.
– Munster scraped past Treviso with a last-gasp 16-13 win at the Stadio Monigo in Italy. Ex-Stormers wing Gerhard van den Heever was handed a rare spot in Munster's starting lineup and took his opportunity well by scoring a crucial try. The result moves Munster up to sixth place in the standings.
– Zane Kirchner's Leinster picked up maximum log points with a 27-10 bonus-point win over Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi. Wing Kayle van Zyl, locks Quintin Geldenhuys and Gideon Koegelenberg, flank Johan Meyer and fullback Ulrich Beyers completed Zebre's team.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Frans Steyn enjoyed a dream reunion with former Bok coach Jake White at Montpellier, who clinched a thrilling 31-29 win over hosts Toulouse. Steyn partnered Robert Ebersohn in the midfield, while prop Jannie du Plessis, lock Paul Willemse, flank Wiaan Liebenberg and flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis were also in the run-on XV. Willemse scored a vital second-half try, but it was Catrakilis who made the difference with two conversions, three penalties and a drop goal for a 16-point haul. Hooker Bismarck du Plessis featured for the winners from the 47th minute and flank Jacques du Plessis from the 57th. The loss ended Toulouse's unbeaten record at home this season.
– Toulon are hitting their straps at just the right time. They scored six tries to inflict a 44-15 defeat on Brive at the Stade Mayol. Boks Duane Vermeulen and Juan Smith were named in the winners' starting XV, while prop Kevin Buys, lock Johan Snyman and Paul Hauman represented Brive. The result takes Toulon to the top of the log.
– Reigning champions Stade Français suffered their ninth loss of the season when they went down 33-18 against Grenoble in Paris. Morné Steyn played alongside No 8 Jono Ross, with the flyhalf slotting a conversion and two penalties in the losing cause. Replacements Meyer Bosman, Gerhard Mostert and Craig Burden were used as impact players. On Grenoble's side lock Hendrik Roodt and scrumhalf Charl McLeod delivered 80-minute shifts.
– Flyhalf Burton Francis and centre Johann Sadie continued their rich vein of form in Agen's narrow 31-27 win over La Rochelle. Sadie crossed for yet another try, while Francis knocked over four conversions and a penalty. No 5 lock Marco Kotzé played with the backline duo and scrumhalf Ricky Januarie turned out for La Rochelle.
– Clermont returned to winning ways with a 44-16 thumping of Oyonnax at home. Ex-Bok lock Flip van der Merwe again found himself in the winners' starting lineup alongside prop Dan Kotzé, with countryman Marthinus van der Westhuizen on the bench. Eighthman Pedrie Wannenburg played for Oyonnax and was joined by hooker Jody Jenneker in the 55th minute.
– Prop Steven Kitshoff and locks Jandré Marais and Berend Botha were in the Bordeaux team that ousted hosts Pau 15-3. The result keeps Bordeaux in fourth spot.
– Castres caused the upset of the weekend when they beat Racing 13-9 in Paris. Fullback Johan Goosen, No 8 Antonie Claassen, flank Bernard le Roux and lock Francois van der Merwe completed a strong Racing lineup, who ultimately came unstuck against scrumhalf Rory Kockott's Castres. The loss sees Racing relinquish top spot.
Compiled by Mariette Adams
Photo: Manuel Blondeau/Getty Images