SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s English Premiership, PRO14 and French Top 14 matches involving South African players.
– Defending champions Saracens were boosted by the return of their England internationals as they claimed a 25-12 away win at Bath to continue their winning run. Springbok tighthead Vincent Koch picked up just under 30 minutes from the bench for Saracens, while Brad Barritt was at inside centre. Bath had Francois Louw at No 8, who made eight tackles and eight carries. Saracens are currently on -18 points, 22 points away from Leicester Tigers, while Bath are in ninth place on eight points.
– The Exeter Chiefs ran in five tries to beat Wasps 38-3 in a bonus-point victory. Jannes Kirsten put in a solid performance at lock, making nine carries for 24 metres along with 11 tackles while winning a turnover. Wasps had flank Nizaam Carr in their starting lineup and brought Ashley Johnson off the bench. Carr made 18 tackles and two clean breaks, while also winning two lineouts. The win took Chiefs into third place with 15 points, four away from the log-leading Northampton Saints. Wasps are currently in 10th place, having won just one of their five opening games in the Premiership.
– The Northampton Saints piled more misery on to the Leicester Tigers with a 36-13 win in the East Midlands derby at Franklin’s Gardens. Cobus Reinach continued his good form for the Saints with a performance outshining opposite number Ben Youngs. Reinach picked up two try assists while he also made 67 passes, seven tackles and eight carries. Jaco Taute made his first Premiership start for the Tigers since joining from Munster, but only made one pass and three carries at inside centre. The win moved Northampton two points clear at the top of the table.
– The Sale Sharks showed their Jekyll-and-Hyde character once again as they slumped to a 20-13 loss to the Worcester Warriors after leading at the break. The Sharks were reduced to 14 men just before half time when Jean-Luc du Preez was red-carded for a shoulder barge. Up until that stage, Sale had relative control of the match as they went 10-3 up thanks to an intercept try from scrumhalf Faf de Klerk. However, the Warriors roared back in the second half and two quickfire tries snatched a win for the home side. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen were all in action for the Jono Ross-led Sharks, who brought Embrose Papier off the bench. Francois Hougaard put in an excellent performance for the Warriors, making 71 passes along with nine carries and two offloads. Francois Venter, tighthead prop Nic Schonert and loose-forwards Cornell du Preez and Gerrit-Jan van Velze all played for Worcester, who climbed one point above Sale into fourth place.
– The London Irish scored a last-minute penalty to hold the Bristol Bears to an exhilarating 27-27 draw, which featured seven tries in total as well as an outstanding individual showing from Bears fullback Charles Piutau. Franco van der Merwe and Ruan Botha continued as the second-row pair for the Irish, with Botha starring as he made 13 tackles, 13 carries and won six lineouts. The draw dropped the Bears into second place, while the London Irish drew level with the Sale Sharks on 12 points.
– Harlequins cut the gap between themselves and Gloucester with a 23-19 victory over Johan Ackermann’s side in the final match of the weekend. Travis Ismaiel was a late inclusion in Harlequins’ starting lineup on the right wing, but he took his opportunity, performing with 42m from nine carries while beating two defenders. Lock Stephan Lewies was also in the thick of things for Harlequins, making 13 carries and 17 tackles. Gloucester welcomed Bok lock Franco Mostert back to the starting lineup, with Ruan Ackermann and hooker Franco Marais also starting for the visitors. Mostert was effective on defence, making 19 tackles and a lineout steal. Ackermann made 10 carries for 30m and four passes before being replaced in the final 15 minutes. Gloucester are one point ahead of Harlequins in seventh place, with two wins this season.
– Jaco van der Walt kicked a conversion and a penalty to help Edinburgh claim a historic away win over Munster in an 18-16 victory. It was Edinburgh’s first win in Cork since 2004. Loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman was impressive, making 12 tackles and nine carries, while wing Duhan van der Merwe also started for Edinburgh. Arno Botha was in action for Munster, playing at No 8 and making 60m from 13 carries and 15 tackles. The win allowed Edinburgh to bring themselves within two points of Munster, who lead Conference B on 25.
– Ulster made it five from seven games as they scored five tries to beat the Scarlets 29-5. Louis Ludik made his 100th appearance for Ulster at fullback and capped it with a fine performance as he made 68m from 13 carries. Marcell Coetzee and hooker Rob Herring were also in action for the hosts. The Scarlets had Uzair Cassiem in their starting lineup, with tighthead prop Werner Kruger making an appearance from the bench. Cassiem was yellow-carded in the first half. Ulster are second in Conference A and trail leaders Leinster by eight points. The Scarlets are fourth in Conference B on 21 points.
– The Cardiff Blues scored an 80th-minute try to complete a remarkable comeback and beat Benetton Treviso 31-28 in Italy. Flank Braam Steyn, lock Irne Herbst and scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage all started for the Italians. The win had the Blues climb one above Treviso into fifth place in Conference B.
– Zebre finally got off the mark as they ran in five tries to claim their first win of the season with a 39-12 victory over the Dragons in Newport. Loosehead prop Brok Harris started for the Dragons, who are in fifth place in Conference A.
– Two tries in five minutes helped defending champions Leinster crush Glasgow Warriors in a crucial 23-10 win in a repeat of last season’s final. Loosehead prop Oli Kebble started for the Warriors, but was replaced after just 11 minutes. Kyle Steyn was used off the bench as a replacement for outside centre Huw Jones. With the win Leinster stretched their lead above the Warriors, who are in fourth place in Conference A, to 18 points.
– Bordeaux brought themselves to within one point of league leaders Lyon with a 34-30 victory over Racing 92 in Paris. South African-born, French-capped lock Bernard le Roux started for Racing, while Bordeaux brought Jandre Marais off the bench. Racing dropped to 11th place, nine points from the bottom of the table.
– Rory Kockott‘s try was not enough for Castres to avoid their sixth defeat of the season as they were whipped 22-13 by La Rochelle. The win moved La Rochelle into seventh place, with just two points separating them from third-placed Montpellier. Robert Ebersohn also started for Castres, who are in 12th place with eighteen points.
– Clermont claimed their sixth win of the season with a 30-13 defeat of Agen, which allowed the side to bounce back from last round’s loss to Toulouse. Johann Sadie was a substitute for Agen and came on to the field in the 46th minute. The win had Clermont climb to fifth place, while Agen remain one place ahead of Stade Francais with 16 points.
– A try just before the break proved the difference as Toulon claimed a 19-9 away win over Pau. It was Toulon’s 10th win of the season, as they kept the pace with the chasing pack despite dropping into sixth place. Tighthead prop Lourens Adriaanse started for Pau, who dropped to ninth, three points away from their opponents.
– Bismarck du Plessis got on the scoresheet as Montpellier grabbed a surprise 33-8 bonus-point win over Lyon on Saturday. Du Plessis went over from a powerful driving maul in the first half as the home side climbed into third place on the table with one of their best performances of the season. Lock Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg scored Montpellier’s bonus-point try as he put the finishing touches to a well-worked linebreak in the final 10 minutes. Frans Steyn started at centre for the hosts, while Henry Immelman was at fullback and Paul Willemse at lock. Lyon had lock Hendrik Roodt on the bench.
– Brive handed bottom-dwellers Stade Francais their eighth loss of the season with a 26-21 win on Sunday. Centre Nico Lee and lock Peet Marais both started for Brive, who drew level with La Rochelle in eighth place on the table. Lionel Mapoe was used from the bench for Stade, who have won just twice this season.
Photo: Pete Norton/Getty Images