SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s English Premiership, Pro14, French Top 14 and Major League Rugby matches involving South African players.
– The Northampton Saints climbed into the playoff places by beating the Newcastle Falcons 31-17. Cobus Reinach and loosehead prop Frans van Wyk both started for the Saints, who sit in fourth place after the weekend. Reinach was heavily involved in creating two of the Saints’ four tries, while also making nine tackles and 34m. Kyle Cooper came off the bench for Newcastle, who saw their hopes of survival significantly diminished, as they are rooted to the bottom of the table, nine points from safety.
— Northampton Saints ? (@SaintsRugby) April 27, 2019
– The Sale Sharks were made to work hard to claim a 6-3 win in a tense encounter with Bath. Faf de Klerk started for the Sharks, who were once again led by No 8 Jono Ross. Despite not scoring or being able to create a try, De Klerk still made 12 carries and 46m with some typical sniping runs. Josh Strauss only managed five minutes off the Sale bench, while Jacques van Rooyen played 20 minutes as a replacement for Bath. The win kept Sale in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs, as they sit three points off fourth in sixth position.
– Clayton Blommetjies’ Premiership debut ended on a low as his Leicester Tigers side slumped to a 23-20 loss to the Bristol Bears. Blommetjies, who has joined the Tigers on loan from the Dragons until the end of the season, was lively from fullback, making a total of 86m from 10 carries. However, it was not enough to prevent the loss, which leaves the Tigers one place off the bottom of the table. Hooker Nic Fenton-Wells was an unused substitute for the Bears.
– Saracens bounced back from their Round 19 loss to Bristol by claiming a 31-14 victory over Wasps. Both Vincent Koch and Schalk Burger were on the bench for the defending champions, who remain in second place, with two rounds left to chase log leaders the Exeter Chiefs. Wasps were captained by Ashley Johnson, who switched from flank to hooker, while fullback Willie le Roux, flank Nizaam Carr and centre Juan de Jongh were also in action.
– Gloucester secured their place in the playoffs with a losing bonus-point in their 27-20 defeat to the Worcester Warriors. Hooker Franco Marais, lock Franco Mostert and flank Ruan Ackermann did duty for Johan Ackermann’s side, who brought Jaco Kriel off the bench in the final 10 minutes. It is the first time Gloucester have made it through to the playoffs in eight years. Meanwhile, the win secured the Warriors’ place in the top flight for next season. Francois Hougaard enjoyed a standout game for the Warriors, winning two turnovers while also making 13 tackles and 38m from nine carries. Nic Schonert, Anton Bresler and Cornell du Preez were all in the Warriors pack.
– The Dragons avoided a wooden spoon finish in Conference B with a thrilling 34-32 comeback win over the Scarlets. By doing so the Dragons also denied the Scarlets a place in the playoffs. Zane Kirchner had a quiet game on the wing for the Scarlets and was replaced with 15 minutes to go. Uzair Cassiem put in another workmanlike performance for the Scarlets, making 32m from seven carries and 10 tackles. Props Brok Harris and Werner Kruger came off the bench for the Dragons and Scarlets respectively.
– The Ospreys missed out on a playoff spot despite a last-minute 26-23 win against the Cardiff Blues. Tom Botha was at tighthead prop for the Ospreys, who finished in fourth place in Conference A. Cardiff, who finished in fifth, brought lock George Earle off the bench.
– Benetton Treviso became the first-ever Italian side to make it into the Pro14 qualifiers after their 25-11 victory over rivals Zebre. Braam Steyn added to his tally of impressive performances this season, making 48m from 11 carries to go with 12 tackles. Lock Irné Herbst and replacement scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage were also in action for Treviso. Zebre, who finished in a disappointing last place in Conference A, had Johan Meyer at flank.
– The Glasgow Warriors secured a home-semi final as their bonus-point 34-10 win over Edinburgh ensured their first-place finish in Conference A. Kyle Steyn was in the Warriors’ midfield and made eight tackles. Duhan van der Merwe ended his season on a high by scoring Edinburgh’s only try of the match. Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel continued their front-row partnership for Edinburgh.
– Despite missing out on top spot in Conference A, Munster ensured that they will host a qualifier by claiming a hard-fought 27-14 win over Connacht. CJ Stander, Chris Cloete, Jean Kleyn and Arno Botha all played for Munster. Cloete made 10 tackles and six passes before being replaced by Botha. Despite the loss, Connacht also progressed to the next round and will visit Ulster in the second qualifier.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Pau stunned Racing 29-27 despite conceding a red card in the 60th. Prop Lourens Adriaanse started started for Pau. Bernard le Roux played for the fifth-placed Racing, who remain on course for the playoffs.
– Log leaders Toulouse were outscored three tries to none, but seven penalties still earned them a 21-20 win over Castres. Scrumhalf Rory Kockott, who scored one of Castres’ tries, featured alongside compatriots Robert Ebersohn, Dan Kötze and Jody Jenneker for the hosts, who are fourth in the standings.
– Agen caused a big upset when they defeated the third-placed Lyon 25-15. Ricky Januarie was Agen’s backup scrumhalf and played from the 68th minute. Lock Francois van der Merwe and flank Deon Fourie were in Lyon’s run-on XV, while prop Albertus Buckle had a 30-minute cameo off the bench.
– Jan Serfontein, Frans Steyn, Paul Willemse, Jacques du Plessis, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Bismarck du Plessis all turned out for Montpellier in their 47-12 hammering of Grenoble. Willemse went over for one of the winning team’s seven tries. Raymond Rhule started at fullback for the relegation-threatened Grenoble. Montpellier are now in seventh place.
– Toulon, with JP Pietersen at fullback, thrashed Bordeaux 45-17 to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs. The eighth-placed Bordeaux are still two spots above Toulon.
– Heyneke Meyer’s Stade Français’s slump in form continued with a 41-25 defeat at the hands of Clermont. Fullback Morné Steyn, scrumhalf Piet van Zyl and flanks Willem Alberts and Hendré Stassen were all in the ninth-ranked Stade’s starting lineup. Lock Jaco van Tonder featured for Clermont, who are second on the log.
– La Rochelle flank Wiaan Liebenberg scored a try in their commanding 49-29 victory against hosts Perpignan. Pretoria-born lock Johannes van Heerden, who plays Test rugby for Romania, was brought on as one of Perpignan’s second-half substitutes.
MAJOR LEAGUE RUGBY
– The Houston SaberCats were on the receiving end of 40-19 lashing against hosts San Diego Legion. Flyhalf Joe Pietersen and inside centre JP du Plessis starred for San Diego, with the former crossing for a try and slotting four conversions to send his team top of the log.
– The Toronto Arrows caused a big upset when they shocked the defending champion Seattle Seawolves 29-7. Hooker Stephan Coetzee, No 8 Riekert Hattingh and flyhalf JP Smith were on duty for the handicapped Seawolves, who had to settle for a 22-man match day squad after one of their players withdrew prior to kick-off.
– The Utah Warriors were too strong for Austin Elite, comfortably winning their match 35-19. Props Franco van den Berg and Frikkie de Beer represented Utah in just their second win of the season. The bottom-of-the-log Austin Elite, who are the only winless side remaining in the competition, had hooker Tiaan Erasmus, flank Rikus Zwart and fullback Zinzan Elan-Puttick in their lineup.
– Inside centre Chad London scored a try in the 79th minute to hand the Glendale Raptors a thrilling last-gasp 20-16 win against Rugby United New York. Scrumhalf and captain Shaun Davies, and his replacement Carlo de Nysschen also featured for the winners. The result lifts Glendale up to fifth, one log point behind their victims New York.
CHAD. LONDON. Breaks through the @rugbyunitedny defense to give the @glendaleraptors the lead late in the match!! Magie converts the kick.@glendaleraptors 20 @rugbyunitedny 16#RaptorStrong #GLENvRUNY #MajorLeagueRugby pic.twitter.com/eQAHJIqQ8t
— Glendale Raptors (@glendaleraptors) April 27, 2019
Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images