SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s Pro14, Premiership Cup and French Top 14 matches involving South African players.
– The Northampton Saints won their second successive Cup match by beating Wasps 15-14 with a last-minute try. Prop Francois van Wyk started for the Saints.
– Tim Swiel returned to haunt his former side as he kicked the winning penalty in the Newcastle Falcons’ 23-21 victory over the Harlequins. Swiel came off the bench in the final quarter and nailed a 71st-minute penalty to seal the win for the visitors. Harlequins flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis enjoyed a solid day off the tee, slotting three penalties and a conversion.
– Francois Hougaard continued his fine form for the Worcester Warriors by scoring in their 31-12 win against the Leicester Tigers. Hougaard was on hand to finish off a length-of-the-field break in one of four first-half tries for the away side. Francois Venter, prop Nick Schonert, lock Anton Bresler and No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze were also in action for the Warriors, who brought veteran Wynand Olivier off the bench early in the second half.
– The Exeter Chiefs held off a brave Bath to win 25-18, despite being reduced to 14 men for the final 10 minutes. Chiefs lock Wilhelm van der Sluys was sent to the sin bin, giving Bath a chance of a comeback, which they were unable to take.
– The Sale Sharks came agonisingly close to their first Cup win of the season but had to settle for a 15-15 draw with Saracens. No 8 Josh Strauss played the full 80 minutes for the Sharks, while Saracens brought Bok tighthead Vincent Koch off the bench in the second half.
– Jaco Kriel made his first appearance of the season off the bench in Gloucester’s 21-13 loss to the Bristol Bears. Kriel had been out after injuring his shoulder while in action for the Lions in Super Rugby, but managed 25 minutes against the Bears. Gerbrandt Grobler started for Johan Ackermann’s side, who also had flyhalf Dom Coetzer as a replacement.
– Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman scored a crucial try to help them outlast the Scarlets for a 31-21 win. Schoeman forced his way over from close range midway through the second half to put Edinburgh back in front, after they fell behind early in the half. Duhan van der Merwe also started for Edinburgh and had a first-half try ruled out by the TMO. The Scarlets had tighthead Werner Kruger and lock David Bulbring in their starting lineup, while both Clayton Blommetjies and Uzair Cassiem came on in the second half.
– Brandon Thomson enjoyed a fine evening at pivot for the Glasgow Warriors in their 29-20 victory over the Ospreys. Thomson kicked three conversions and a penalty but also set up Niko Matawalu’s hat-trick try with a deft cross-field chip behind the defence. Ospreys wing Hanno Dirksen was a danger throughout, running a total of 142m from five carries while also managing a late try for the home side. DTH van der Merwe and Oli Kebble both started for the Warriors.
– Ulster stayed in the hunt for a playoff place by beating Treviso 15-10 in Italy. Marcell Coetzee had a solid outing at blindside flank for the visitors, topping his side’s tackle stats with 18 in 74 minutes, while hooker Rob Herring scored the difference-making try in the second half for Ulster. Dewaldt Duvenage and Irné Herbst started for Treviso.
– Connacht bounced back into form with a comfortable 33-12 bonus-point win against the Dragons. Despite being on the losing side, centre Jarryd Sage put in a good performance, making 53m and 10 tackles for his team, who had Brok Harris at loosehead prop.
– The Cardiff Blues gave the retiring Gethin Jenkins a send-off by whitewashing Zebre 37-0. Mainstay lock George Earle was again in the Blues starting XV, while Zebre had former Bulls’ playmaker Francois Brummer at flyhalf.
– Munster stayed in second place in Conference A by holding out a Cheetahs comeback for a 30-26 win in Bloemfontein. No 8 Arno Botha scored the first of Munster’s four tries. Munster flank Chris Cloete was yellow-carded in the first half for kicking the ball in an offside position but made a number of important turnovers toward the end of the match when the Cheetahs were pushing for a match-winning try. Lock Jean Kleyn also started for Munster.
– Lyon put in one of the performances of the season to demolish Stade Français 41-6. Morné Steyn kicked two early penalties for Stade’s only points of the game but Lyon fired in the second half, with prop Albertus Buckle scoring one of their five tries in the half. Francois van der Merwe and Etienne Oosthuizen formed the lock partnership for Lyon, while Hendrik Roodt and Deon Fourie came off the bench to good effect. Hanro Liebenberg went straight into Stade’s starting XV after joining them on loan from the Bulls, while fellow Bulls loanees Hendré Stassen and André Warner were replacements.
– Racing 92 made it two wins from two by beating Montpellier 27-13. Jan Serfontein, Ruan Pienaar, Jacques du Plessis, Wian Liebenberg, Paul Willemse, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Jannie du Plessis were all involved for Montpellier, with Janse van Rensburg scoring one of their two tries. No 8 Antonie Claassen was in Racing’s starting XV.
– League leaders Clermont were forced to settle for a 27-27 draw against Grenoble. Wing Raymond Rhule and loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg started for Grenoble, who had Francois Uys on the bench. Flip van der Merwe and Jaco van Tonder played for Clermont.
– Castres got their season back on track with a 37-10 bonus-point victory over Pau. Rory Kockott kicked two conversions and two penalties for Castres, while Robert Ebersohn dotted down for the home side. A Castres pack, featuring hooker Jody Jenneker and tighthead prop Daniel Kotze, forced a penalty try at scrum time.
– Toulon lifted themselves out of the relegation zone by beating Perpignan 26-16. Juandre Kruger and JP Pietersen were both replacements for Toulon. Perpignan had wing Wandile Mjekevu and lock Berend Botha in their lineup.
– Second-placed Toulouse closed the gap between them and first place with a dominant 40-0 win against Bordeaux. Cheslin Kolbe, Rynhardt Elstadt and Maks van Dyk were on duty for Toulouse. Jandre Marais was a lock replacement for Bordeaux.
Compiled by Dylan Jack
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images for Gallagher