SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's English Premiership, Celtic Pro12 and French Top 14 matches, involving South African players.
ENGLISH PREMIERSHIP SEMI-FINALS
– European champions Saracens, under the leadership of centre Brad Barritt, kept alive their hopes of winning the double with a resounding 44-17 win over the Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park. Flank Michael Rhodes, tighthead prop Petrus du Plessis and hooker Schalk Brits started alongside Barritt, with scrumhalf Neil de Kock making an impact off the bench from the second half.
– The Exeter Chiefs progressed to their maiden Premiership final with a thrilling 34-23 victory over a spirited Wasps outfit at Sandy Park. No 8 Don Armand featured in the Chiefs lineup, while hooker Ashley Johnson was again used a substitute by Wasps.
CELTIC PRO12 SEMI-FINALS
– Leinster beat Irish rivals Ulster 30-18 in a titanic clash at the RDS Arena to book a spot in the final. Hooker Richardt Strauss was in Leinster's run-on XV and fullback Zane Kirchner came off the bench. Ulster had scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, lock Franco van der Merwe, hooker Rob Herring and lock Robbie Diack in their ranks.
– Connacht ensured that new Pro12 champions will be crowned this year when they knocked out title-holders the Glasgow Warriors with a hard-fought 16-11 triumph. Eighthman Josh Strauss started for the Warriors.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Toulon, featuring Boks Juan Smith and Duane Vermeulen in their back row, crushed Agen 52-10 to move up to second in the standings and into an automatic semi-final spot, with two round-robin games remaining. Lock Marco Kotzé and outside centre Johann Sadie earned starting berths for the relegation-bound Agen. Flyhalf Burton Francis was benched, only making a 17-minute cameo in which he kicked a late conversion.
– Brive rose to eighth on the log courtesy of a 45-24 bonus-point win over Grenoble at home. Lock Wilhelm Steenkamp played for the winners from the 57th minute. Tighthead prop Rossouw de Klerk scored one of Grenoble's three tries, while fullback Gio Aplon and scrumhalf Charl McLeod also represented Grenoble, who remain in 10th place.
– Castres were the big winners at the completion of round 24, as they moved up to sixth with a 67-20 thumping of La Rochelle. From an individual perspective, Castres scrumhalf Rory Kockott scored the first of his team's 10 tries to win his duel with La Rochelle's Ricky Januarie. The result sees La Rochelle drop from eighth to ninth.
– Johan Goosen followed up his good performance in last week's Champions Cup final with an even better exhibition in Racing's 43-13 demolition of Pau in the Top 14. Goosen started at fullback this week and scored 18 points via a superb try, five conversions and a penalty. Flank Bernard le Roux, No 8 Antonie Claassen and lock Juandré Kruger all featured alongside the in-form Goosen. Pau brought on lock Claude Dry from the 59th minute. The result keeps Racing fourth in the standings.
– Fifth-ranked Toulouse stayed in touching distance of the top four with a workmanlike 25-17 win over Oyonnax. Loosehead prop Gurthrö Steenkamp did service for Toulouse and hooker Jody Jenneker for Oyonnax.
– Bismarck du Plessis scored the winning try as Montpellier beat Bordeaux 19-16 at the Altrad Stadium. Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis slotted four penalties to keep Montpellier in the game before Du Plessis struck the telling blow in the 64th minute. Frans Steyn (centre), Wiaan Liebenberg (flank), Pierre Spies (No 8), Jacques du Plessis (lock), Paul Willemse (lock) and Jannie du Plessis (prop) were all starters for Montpellier. Bordeaux included prop Steven Kitshoff, lock Jandré Marais and scrumhalf Heini Adams in their team.
– Competition pacesetters Clermont continued to lead the way with a 36-10 annihilation of Stade Français. Fullback Scott Spedding, lock Flip van der Merwe, prop Dan Kotzé and hooker Marthinus van der Westhuizen turned out for the log leaders, with Spedding kicking a penalty. Morné Steyn earned a rare start for Stade and slotted a conversion and a penalty. Centre Meyer Bosman, hooker Craig Burden and prop Heinke van der Merwe were also on duty for the languishing Stade.
Compiled by Mariette Adams
Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP Photo