• Johnson’s Wasps march on

    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

    Pool 1

    – Clermont claimed top spot with a 18-6 victory over Saracens at Stade Marcel-Michelin. Lock Alistair Hargreaves, inside centre Brad Barritt and prop Petrus du Plessis started for Sarries, while scrumhalf Neil de Kock and Ernst Joubert were used as impact players from the 54th and 58th minutes respectively. Despite the result, the London-based side also qualified for the knockout stage ahead of Munster and the Sale Sharks.

    – Pat Howard scored one of 10 tries as Munster thrashed the Sale Sharks 65-10. Both sides were already out of the running, but it didn't stop Munster from signing off in style.

    Pool 2 

    – Ashley Johnson's Wasps held Richardt Strauss's Leinster to a 20-20 draw as both sides booked their places in the last eight. Johnson was sin binned 17 seconds into the match in Coventry for taking out an opponent, which handed Leinster the initiative. But Wasps fought back in the second half to earn a draw.

    – Harlequins hammered Castres 47-19 with the hope of sneaking into the quarter-finals. But Wasps' stalemate at home to Leinster denied the Londoners any chance of progressing further in the competition. Flank Jannie Bornman was named in Castres' match-day squad and played from the 41st minute.

    Pool 3 

    – Bryan Habana found the tryline once more for Toulon, who easily dispatched the Llanelli Scarlets 26-3. Bok flank Juan Smith started alongside Habana, while Bakkies Botha was introduced in the 55th minute.

    – Ruan Pienaar, Franco van der Merwe, Wiehahn Herbst and Rob Herring all featured in Ulster's shock 26-7 win over the Leicester Tigers. Pienaar added two conversions, while Herbst spent 10 minutes in the sin bin. Lock Sebastian de Chaves was listed as a Tigers reserve. Both sides failed to advance to the last eight.

    Pool 4

    – Montpellier dumped Toulouse out of the competition with a thrilling 27-26 victory at the Altrad Stadium. Toulouse, with prop Gurthrö Steenkamp in their run-on XV, headed into this clash in pole position, but were pipped at the finish line by their French rivals. Centre Robert Ebersohn started in midfield for Montpellier and was later joined by compatriot Pat Cilliers. Scrumhalf Jano Vermaak did service for Toulouse from the 41st minute.

    – Bath erased an early deficit to clinch a revenge 20-15 victory over the Glasgow Warriors at the Rec. Francois Louw started on the side of the scrum for the hosts, while wing DTH van der Merwe represented the Warriors. Bath are the only side in this pool to progress to the next round.

    Pool 5 

    – Racing Métro crushed the Northampton Saints 32-8 at Franklin's Gardens to seal their place atop of this pool and secure a home quarter-final for the first time ever. The Saints, however, did enough in previous rounds to go through to the quarter-finals, as runners-up of Pool 5. Antonie Claassen and Bernard le Roux completed Racing's loose trio. Lock Francois van der Merwe started for the victors but went off in the 62nd minute to accommodate compatriot Juandré Kruger. Flyhalf Johan Goosen returned from injury in the 71st minute, while prop Brian Mujati failed to make an appearance off the bench.

    – Benetton Treviso saved their best for last, as they stunned the Neath-Swansea Ospreys 23-20. Lock Corniel van Zyl started and did well for the winners. Centre Hanno Dirksen and lock Rynier Bernardo turned out for the Ospreys, but both delivered below-par performances.

    Quarter-final fixtures:

    Racing Métro vs Saracens
    Toulon vs Wasps
    Clermont vs Northampton Saints
    Leinster vs Bath

    EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP

    Pool 1

    – Stefan Basson and Joe van Niekerk and their Rovigo teammates suffered a 34-6 defeat at the hands of London Irish, who eased through to the play-offs. Basson scored Rovigo's only points with two penalties.

    – The Cardiff Blues recorded a 28-3 bonus-point victory over Grenoble to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup. Former Sharks lock Ross Skeate was on duty for Grenoble.

    Pool 2 

    – The Exeter Chiefs pummelled Bayonne 45-3 to set up a home quarter-final against the Newcastle Falcons. Bayonne relegated prop JC Janse van Rensburg to the bench, where he remained for the duration of the contest.

    – Danie Poolman and Quinn Roux featured for Connacht in their spirited comeback against La Rochelle. Connacht won 30-20 to earn a place in the last eight of the competition.

    Pool 3 

    – Ligtoring Landman and his Newport Gwent Dragons completed the double over Stade Français with a 30-19 victory in Paris. Ex-Stormers prop Brok Harris played alongside his South African captain for the Dragons. Bok flyhalf Morné Steyn converted two of Stade's three tries, as their campaign came to an abrupt end.

    – The Newcastle Falcons travelled to flank Johan van Heerden's Bucharest Wolves, where they raced to a 52-10 victory. The Falcons needed a bonus-point victory to secure qualification and achieved the feat in the first half.

    Pool 4

    – Edinburgh progressed to the quarter-finals with a 38-20 win over Bordeaux. Prop WP Nel, lock Anton Bresler and centre Andries Strauss all played a role in Edinburgh's success at Murrayfield. Scrumhalf Heini Adams and lock Jandré Marais turned out for Bordeaux, who exit the tournament.

    – Lyon piled more misery on London Welsh with a 17-12 win at the Kassam Stadium. Welsh, who are yet to win a single match in all competitions this season, had the services of Ben Pienaar at the back of the scrum, while Lyon benched loose forward Frans Viljoen.

    Pool 5 

    – Gloucester eased past Brive 31-20 to qualify as top seeds for the quarter-finals. Centre Riaan Swanepoel and prop Johannes Coetzee were named in Brive's starting lineup for their final game in the tournament.

    – Oyonnax failed to reach the knockout stage in spite of a comfortable 20-3 triumph against Zebre. Hooker Jody Jenneker and No 8 Pedrie Wannenburg played for the winners, with the latter scoring one of three tries. Dries van Schalkwyk, who played directly opposite Wannenburg for the Italians, failed to make any contribution. Prop Ruaan du Preez and lock Quintin Geldenhuys warmed the benches of Oyonnax and Zebre, respectively.

    Quarter-final fixtures:

    London Irish vs Edinburgh
    Exeter Chiefs vs Newcastle Falcons
    Gloucester vs Connacht
    Newport Gwent Dragons vs Cardiff Blues

    JAPANESE TOP LEAGUE

    – The Yamaha Júbilo stunned the Kobelco Steelers 41-12 in the first semi-final on Saturday. Former Bok lock Andries Bekker started for the Steelers, but he was left frustrated at lineout time and was lucky not to be sent off for a late shoulder charge in the second half. 

    – The Panasonic Wild Knights ousted the Toshiba Brave Lupus 50-15 in the second semi-final. Centre Frans Steyn kicked a conversion and penalty for Toshiba, but could do little to stop the defending champions from romping into this weekend's final against Yamaha.

    Compiled by Mariette Adams

    Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Post by

    Mariette Adams