SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's European Champions Cup, European Challenge Cup and Japanese Top League matches, involving South African players.
– Hooker Schalk Brits came on as a replacement to score the bonus-point try in Saracens' 33-17 victory against Ulster in London. The undefeated hosts, also featuring prop Petrus du Plessis, flank Michael Rhodes and scrumhalf Neil de Kock, earned the right to host a quarter-final. Ulster, with Ruan Pienaar, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Wiehahn Herbst and Rob Herring in their ranks, still have a mathematical chance of progressing to the play-offs. Pienaar kicked one of Ulster's two conversions.
– Oyonnax stunned four-time champions Toulouse 32-14 to claim their first-ever win in the tournament. Former Sharks hooker Jody Jenneker started for the winners, while prop Gert Muller completed the Toulouse bench. The result sees Oyonnax move above Toulouse on the log.
– The Ospreys recorded a come-from-behind 21-13 win over Clermont, to move to the top of the pool at the expense of their victims. Wing Hanno Dirksen played for the Welsh region, while fullback Scott Spedding and prop Dan Kotzé earned starting berths for Clermont.
– Lock Jandré Marais and his Bordeaux teammates inflicted a 34-27 defeat on the Exeter Chiefs in an exciting contest. The sides were deadlocked going into the final 10 minutes, but a late converted try swayed the result in Bordeaux's favour.
– Racing surge into the quarter-finals with a 64-14 thumping of the Scarlets in Paris. Loose forwards Bernard le Roux and Antonie Claassen were starters for Racing with Claassen crossing for their third score in the 26th minute. Johan Goosen joined the fray as a substitute, scoring a try and a conversion late in the match. Wing DTH van der Merwe represented the Scarlets and opened their account with a 41st-minute try.
– The Leicester Tigers ran in seven tries to demolish Treviso 47-7 at Welford Road and in doing so advanced to the knockout stage of the competition. No 8 Braam Steyn played for Treviso, who are yet to register a win.
– Munster upset Stade Français 26-13 in the return fixture at Thomond Park. Captain CJ Stander led from the front and scored Munster's bonus-point try in the 67th minute. Jono Ross and Morné Steyn combined for Stade's points, with the flank burrowing over for the only try, while the flyhalf added the conversion and two penalties. Second-ranked Stade are still in with a chance to progress to the next stage if they win their final pool match.
– A try in stoppage-time saw Toulon snatch a crucial 15-11 triumph over Wasps in Mayol. The reigning champions, with Bryan Habana, Juan Smith and Duane Vermeulen in their team, were up against it for much of the contest, but in the end they had too much firepower. Ashley Johnson came on as hooker for Wasps in the second half and played an influential role for the visitors, which included a massive hit on Habana.
– Having already been eliminated from the tournament and nothing but pride to play for, fullback Zane Kirchner's Leinster hammered Bath 25-11 at RDA Arena. Bok flank Francois Louw turned out for Bath, who, because of this loss, were also knocked out of the competition with one round to go.
– A last-gasp penalty handed Brive a nervy 21-18 win against Connacht in France. Forwards Kevin Buys and Wilhelm Steenkamp were on duty for the winners, who rose to the top of the standings at Connacht's expense.
– New-comers Enisei-STM stunned the Newcastle Falcons 24-7 to avenge the heavy second-round defeat against the same opposition. Lock Mouritz Botha came off the Falcons bench in the 49th minute, but was sent off two minutes later.
– Captain Ligtoring Landman and his Newport Gwent Dragons charges beat the ill-disciplined Castres 31-18 at Rodney Parade. The bonus-point result keeps the Dragons, who also enjoyed the services of Carl Meyer, Sarel Pretorius and Brok Harris, at the top of the pool. Castres, who did themselves no favours by conceding two yellow cards and a red, are third.
– Lock Claude Dry and his Pau teammates suffered a 27-3 defeat at home against the Sale Sharks, having trailed 22-3 at the break.
– Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis booted 12 points (six conversions) in Montpellier's 47-7 pummelling of Calvisano at the Peroni Stadium. Catrakilis was joined in the starting lineup by Robert Ebersohn, the Du Plessis brothers Bismarck and Jannie and their namesake Jacques du Plessis, who scored one of seven tries. Pat Cilliers, Paul Willemse and Cameron Wright were used as impact players, but Cilliers was yellow-carded. Fulback Ben de Jager and hooker Luhandré Luus started and for Calvisano.
– Zebre completed a season double over the Worcester Warriors with a hard-fought 22-15 win at Sixways Stadium. The hosts named tighthead prop Nick Schonert among their reserves. Backs Ulrich Beyers and Kayle van Zyl both contributed to Zebre's score, with the former kicking a penalty and the latter scoring a try, while loose forwards Johan Meyer, Dries van Schalkwyk and Jean Cook also turned out for the table-topping winners.
– Grenoble took charge of this pool with a comfortable 28-18 win over London Irish. Gio Aplon and Charl McLeod did service for Grenoble, with the scrumhalf scoring their third and final touchdown.
– Edinburgh thrashed Agen 23-0 at Murrayfield to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage. Inside centre Andries Strauss earned a rare starting spot for the winners, while lock Anton Bresler, who features regularly, was benched.
JAPANESE TOP LEAGUE SEMI-FINALS
– Three-time champions the Panasonic Wild Knights hammered the Kobe Kobelco Steelers 42-10 to book their place in the final. Bok wing JP Pietersen enjoyed a suberb game for the winners which saw him score one of three tries before being replaced in the 72nd minute. Andries Bekker played flank for the Steelers, but had to leave the field as early as the 42nd minute after suffering a foot injury. Another Springbok Jaque Fourie has given an eight-minute cameo by the Steelers.
– In the other semi-final, Toshiba Brave Lupus, who've won the title five times already, ousted the Yamaha Júbilo 34-22. Utility back Francois Steyn represented Toshiba and was successful with two (a penalty and a conversion) of his four attempts at goal for the title contenders.
Photo: Geoff Caddick/AFP Photo