SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's European Champions Cup, European Challenge Cup and Japanese Top League matches, which involved South African players.
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP
– Saracens completed the double over English rivals the Sale Sharks with a 28-15 victory in London. Former Sharks lock Alistair Hargreaves and prop Petrus du Plessis started for Sarries, while ex-Bok scrumhalf Neil de Kock featured off the bench from the 61st minute.
– Clermont powered past Munster with a 26-19 victory to reclaim top spot in Pool 1 ahead of Saracens. Ex-Bulls No 8 CJ Stander and former Bok prop BJ Botha retained their places in the Munster starting XV after their defeat against the same opposition last week.
– Wing Zane Kirchner played a key role for Leinster in their nervy 14-13 win over Harlequins. Flyhalf Tim Swiel kicked two penalties and a conversion for Quins, but also missed a 30m sitter that proved costly. Both sides are level on 13 points each, but Leinster are second because of points difference.
– Loose forward Ashley Johnson and his London Wasps teammates ended the club's stay at Adams Park with a crushing 44-17 win against Castres. The Londoners, who will play at the Ricoh Arena from this coming weekend, are now just a point behind the top two in this pool. Castres, who had eighthman Jannie Bornman in their run-on side, are still winless.
– Toulon exacted revenge against the Leicester Tigers with a convincing 23-8 victory at the Stade Mayol. Boks Bryan Habana, Bakkies Botha and Juan Smith were all listed in the defending champions' run-on XV, but just before the interval Botha suffered a broken nose after a collision. The result put Toulon firmly in charge of Pool 3 on 13 points.
– A week after their 15-point defeat against Ulster, the Llanelli Scarlets turned the tables on their Irish opponents with a 22-13 victory at home. Locks Johan Snyman and George Earle represented the Scarlets. Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar converted two Ulster penalties and was joined in the match-day squad by compatriots Louis Ludik, Robbie Diack, Franco van der Merwe and Rob Herring. The result all but ended Ulster's play-off hopes, as they are seven points adrift of leaders Toulon.
– Toulouse continued their impressive run in Europe by defeating the Glasgow Warriors 12-9. The French team, who had Bok prop Gurthrö Steenkamp in their side, are unbeaten and comfortably lead Pool 4 with 16 points from their four wins. Former Lions No 8 Josh Strauss skippered the Warriors, who leapfrog Bath into second on the table on points difference.
– Bok flank Francois Louw marked his return to the playing field with a victory as Bath ousted Montpellier 32-12. Centres Robert Ebersohn and Wynand Olivier, along with prop Pat Cilliers, turned out for Montpellier, who suffered their fourth straight defeat.
– The Northampton Saints blanked out Treviso, with a 67-0 win at Franklin's Gardens. Flank Meyer Swanepoel started for the Italians, who remain rooted at the bottom of the log, while the Saints edged Racing Métro into first place by a point.
Johan Goosen was again in the thick of things, as Racing battled past the Neath-Swansea Ospreys 14-12. The flyhalf added eight points to Racing's tally (a conversion and two penalties) and was joined in the starting team by No 8 Antonie Claassen, flank Bernard le Roux and locks Francois van der Merwe and Juandré Kruger. Hanno Dirksen and Rynier Bernardo turned out for the Ospreys.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
– Grenoble, with fullback Gio Aplon and lock Hendrik Roodt in their team, struggled past Rovigo 20-17. Centre Joe van Niekerk and utility back Stefan Basson were on duty for the losers. The teams remain third and fourth respectively, behind London Irish and the Cardiff Blues.
– Don Armand and his Exeter Chiefs teammates hammered La Rochelle 41-17 to cement their place at the summit of Pool 2. Lock Cobus Grobler and prop Rassie van Vuuren wore the yellow jerseys of La Rochelle.
– Connacht stunned Bayonne in France with a 29-27 victory, which kept them in second place on the log. Front rowers JC van Rensburg and Gert Muller scrummed down for Bayonne, who moved off the bottom of the standings courtesy of a losing bonus point.
– Stade Français scored a late try to beat the Newcastle Falcons 31-24 in Paris. Bok flyhalf Morné Steyn converted three of the five tries they scored, while his ex-Bulls teammate Jono Ross, who started alongside Steyn and lock Gerhard Mostert, spent 10 minutes in the sin bin. Despite the victory, third-placed Stade are still five points behind the second-placed Falcons in the standings.
– Prop Brok Harris and lock Ligtoring Landman were included in the Newport Gwent Dragons match-day squad that felled the Bucharest Wolves 69-17. Flank Johan van Heerden featured for the Wolves, who have conceded the most tries (24) in the competition.
– Edinburgh pulled away in Pool 4 with a 69-17 victory against London Welsh. Former EP Kings captain Andries Strauss played in midfield for the winners with lock Anton Bresler also in the starting lineup. Prop WP Nel entered the fray in the 71st minute, while flank Ben Pienaar failed to make an appearance off the Welsh bench.
– Lock Connie Basson led Lyon to a surprising 37-28 win over their French rivals Bordeaux. Former Bok scrumhalf Ricky Januarie completed the winners' match-day squad, while Bordeaux dropped lock Jandré Marais from the starting XV to the bench. The positioning of all the teams in this pool remain the same, but Lyon closed the gap between themselves and second-placed Bordeaux to a point.
– Eighthman Dries van Schalkwyk scored a five-pointer in a losing cause as Zebre lost 32-16 to Gloucester. Fullback Hennie Daniller and lock Quintin Geldenhuys played for the Italian team alongside the try-scorer.
– Riaan Swanepoel guided Oyonnax to a narrow 22-17 win against Brive in their French derby. The centre booted two conversions and a penalty, while prop Johannes Coetzee played a key role in the dominant Oyonnax scrum. Lock Peet Marais and prop Ruaan du Preez were listed as substitutes for Brive and Oyonnax respectively.
JAPANESE TOP LEAGUE
– Former Sharks loose forward Keegan Daniel scored a brace for the Kubota Steelers, who thrashed the Munakaua Sanix Blues 36-11. Flank Jacques Potgieter started for the Blues, but was replaced in the 61st minute.
– Flyhalf Riaan Viljoen scored a try for the NTT Docomo Red Hurriccanes, but it wasn't enough as the Kintetsu Liners held on for a narrow 30-27 win. Flank Heinrich Brüssow started alongside Viljoen for the Hurricanes and centre Johann Sadie joined them in the 50th minute.
– The Panasonic Wild Knights claimed a thrilling 29-27 win over the Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers. Boks Andries Bekker and Jaque Fourie turned out for the Steelers and the former scored an early try. But wing JP Pietersen came off the wood for the Wild Knights early in the second stanza to score the winning touchdown.
– Suntory Sungoliath powered past the Toshiba Brave Lupus 32-16. Frans Steyn's accurate kicking (two penalties and a drop goal) kept Toshiba on par with Suntory, but when he was substituted in the 48th minute, they faded away. Flank Justin Downey represented the victors.
– NTT Communications Shining Arcs lost 26-9 to Yamaha Jubilo. Elton Jantjies slotted two penalties and a drop goal for the Shining Arcs' only points.
– Ryan Kankowski and his Toyota Industries Shuttles teammates suffered a humiliating 36-0 loss at the hands of the Ricoh Black Rams.
– The Toyota Verblitz cruised to a 37-15 victory against the Canon Eagles. Sharks flank Jean Deysel did service for Verblitz from the 61st minute.
Photo: Japan Rugby Magazine