SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's English Premiership, Celtic Pro12, French Top 14 and Japanese Top League matches, which involved South African players.
– A try either side of the break earned Saracens a comfortable 22-6 victory in their derby against London Irish. Skipper Alistair Hargreaves might have given his side an early lead with a surprise drop goal, but the whistle had already gone. Ex-Bok scrumhalf Neil de Kock and prop Petrus du Plessis turned out for Sarries alongside the former Sharks lock.
– Wasps continued their merry ways at the Ricoh Arena with a resounding 41-16 win over the Sale Sharks. Former Bok loose forward Ashley Johnson again forced his way over the tryline for the victors, who moved up to fourth on the log.
– The Leicester Tigers avenged their record-breaking 45-0 defeat against Bath earlier this season with a gritty 17-8 triumph at Welford Road. Bok flank Francois Louw retained his place in Bath’s run-on side, while Leicester again used lock Sebastian de Chaves as an impact player in the last five minutes.
– Harlequins flyhalf Tim Swiel booted two penalties in their 24-13 victory over London Welsh. Despite leading for the majority of the contest, the Exiles were subjected to a 12th straight defeat in as many outings and cemented their place at the foot of the standings. Welsh’s reserve No 8 Ben Pienaar came on from the 74th minute.
– The Cardiff Blues overturned last weekend’s shock result against the Newport Gwent Dragons with a narrow 11-9 victory at Rodney Parade. Lock Ligtoring Landman performed admirably for the Dragons, but the Blues absorbed relentless pressure in the final quarter to clinch victory.
– Connacht, with wing Danie Poolman and lock Quinn Roux in their ranks, surprised Munster 24-16. A win would have elevated Munster to the top of the table, but Connacht denied them the opportunity. Outside centre Pat Howard, No 8 CJ Stander and prop BJ Botha earned starting berths for Munster, who remain in third place.
– Lock Anton Bresler’s Edinburgh recorded an easy 20-8 win over the Glasgow Warriors. Loose forward duo Tyrone Holmes and Josh Strauss represented Glasgow, while prop WP Nel came off the bench in the 31st minute for Edinburgh.
– Corniel van Zyl and his Treviso charges completed the double over their more accomplished Italian rivals Zebre with a 17-15 win. Lock Quintin Geldenhuys and eighthman Dries van Schalkwyk turned out for Zebre with the former crossing the line for their first try. The two-point victory sees Treviso climb to 11th with Zebre slipping to 12th.
– Leinster returned to winning ways with a 24-11 triumph against Ulster. Two first-half penalties from Ruan Pienaar and a second-half try from Wiehahn Herbst kept Ulster within striking distance of their hosts; but Leinster, who had Zane Kirchner and Richardt Strauss in their team, pulled away in the final quarter to secure victory. Flank Robbie Diack, lock Franco van der Merwe and hooker Rob Herring also played for Ulster.
– The Llanelli Scarlets shook off their loss against the Neath-Swansea Ospreys a week ago with a convincing 22-10 win against the same opposition. The Scarlets selected lock Johan Snyman in their run-on XV, but he was replaced by compatriot George Earle in the 68th minute. Wing Hanno Dirksen turned out for the Ospreys and was joined by lock Rynier Bernardo in the 63rd minute.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Lyon battled past 14-man Stade Français 12-9 after Morné Steyn was red-carded in the first half. Steyn, who was given a rare start, played alongside centre Meyer Bosman, flank Jono Ross and prop Heinke van der Merwe and within 13 minutes the Bok flyhalf had converted a penalty and a drop goal to push his side ahead. But in the 31st minute, Steyn kicked an opponent lying on the ground and got his marching orders. Scrumhalf Ricky Januarie and lock Coenie Basson represented Lyon.
– In a humdrum contest, hosts Racing Métro edged Bordeaux 12-9. Locks Francois van der Merwe and Juandré Kruger, flank Bernard le Roux and No 8 Antonie Claassen were on duty for the Parisian team with Van der Merwe yellow-carded in the 56th minute. Lock Berend Botha started for Bordeaux.
– A conversion and penalty off the boot of Peter Grant wasn’t enough for La Rochelle, who went down 30-15 to Castres. Flank Jannie Bornman came on as an injury-enforced substitution for Castres six minutes before the interval.
– Brive, with prop Kevin Buys, flank Paul Hauman and reserve flyhalf Riaan Swanepoel, stunned Bayonne 25-9 to leapfrog their opponents into ninth place on the log. Fullback Scott Spedding and front rowers Gert Muller and JC Janse van Rensburg did service for Bayonne, who slipped to 12th.
– Scrumhalf Charl McLeod scored one of four tries as Grenoble toppled Oyonnax 33-19. Prop Albertus Buckle and locks Paul Willemse and Hendrik Roodt were starters for the winners before Ross Skeate replaced Roodt in the 56th minute. Loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg and prop Ruaan du Preez turned out for Oyonnax.
– Jake White’s tenure at Montpellier got off to the perfect start when his charges defeated defending champions Toulon 16-12. Former Bulls and Bok centre Wynand Olivier played for Montpellier, while wing Bryan Habana was the only South African in Toulon’s run-on XV. Scrumhalf Michael Claassens did, however, join Habana on the hour mark.
– Clermont rose to the summit of the standings with a convincing 24-6 victory over Toulouse. Boks Gurthrö Steenkamp and Jano Vermaak came off the bench in the 41st and 70th minutes respectively for Toulouse, who now occupy eighth spot on the table.
JAPANESE TOP LEAGUE
– The Yamaha Jubilo snuck past the Toshiba Brave Lupus 29-28. Reserve fullback Frans Steyn came on in the 54th minute for Toshiba and put them back in contention with three conversions. But Yamaha held on in the closing stages to clinch a thrilling win.
– Schalk Burger starred in Suntory Sungoliath’s exciting 18-17 win over the NTT Communications Shining Arcs. Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies started for the Shining Arcs and split the uprights with two conversions and a penalty in a losing cause.
– The NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes thrashed the Kubota Spears 42-15. Flyhalf Riaan Viljoen scored a five-pointer for the Hurricanes before he was taken off in the 62nd minute to accommodate Johann Sadie. Spears flank Keegan Daniel came off the wood in the 48th minute.
– Lock Andries Bekker crossed the tryline twice as the Kobe Kobelco Steelers lashed Toyota Verblitz 34-7. Alongside Bekker, Jaque Fourie excelled for the Steelers, while Verblitz flank Jean Deysel toiled for 60 minutes.
– The Manakaua Sanix Blues ended a nine-match losing streak with a 24-10 win against the Coca-Cola Red Sparks. Versatile flank Jacques Potgieter was at the forefront of the rare victory and set up two tries for the Blues.
Photo: Japan Rugby