SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s English Premiership, Pro14, French Top 14 and Japanese Top League matches involving South African players.
– The Exeter Chiefs kept their unbeaten start to the season, climbing to the top of the table with a 39-24 win against Bath. Chiefs flank Don Armand crossed just before half-time to give his side the lead at the break. Bath brought prop Jacques van Rooyen off the bench.
– The Leicester Tigers stayed with the chasing pack as their 23-15 victory over the Northampton Saints took them into fifth place. Cobus Reinach started at scrumhalf for the Saints, who had prop Francois van Wyk on the bench.
– Rohan Janse van Rensburg scored his first try since his second return to the Sale Sharks, lifting them off the bottom of the table with a 20-7 win against the Newcastle Falcons. The former Lion started at inside centre, making a total of 59m from 12 carries and sealing the win with a late try. Sale had captain Jono Ross and No 8 Josh Strauss in their loose trio, while hooker Kyle Cooper came on for the Falcons in the final quarter of the match.
– Juan de Jongh’s second-half try was not enough to prevent Wasps from losing 35-21 to Johan Ackermann’s Gloucester. Both Nizaam Carr and Ashley Johnson started in Wasps’ loose trio. Gloucester had Gerbrandt Grobler at lock and hooker Franco Marais on the bench.
– Saracens continued their excellent start to their title defence with a 25-20 away win against Harlequins. The defending champions had Michael Rhodes at flank, with Schalk Burger coming into the loose trio in the second half. Former Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakillis was a late inclusion on the bench for Harlequins, coming on to the field in the final 10 minutes.
– The Worcester Warriors produced their best performance of the season to brush aside the Bristol Bears with a club record 52-7 win. Both Warriors captain Gerrit-Jan van Velze and centre Francois Venter scored in a dominant first half from the home side, with scrumhalf Francois Hougaard and lock Anton Bresler also enjoying fine solo performances. Zane Kirchner made his first start at fullback since joining the Bears on loan, while hooker Nick Fenton-Wells made an early appearance off the bench in the first half.
– Edinburgh saw off a spirited second-half performance from the Cheetahs with a 37-21 win at home. Wing Duhan van der Merwe starred for Edinburgh, despite not getting on the scoresheet, making a total of 57m from four carries, while prop WP Nel was also involved from the start against his former side.
– The Glasgow Warriors produced a fine second half to storm to a bonus-point 36-8 victory over Zebre. The Conference A leaders had Oli Kebble at prop, while Zebre had flyhalf Francois Brummer and flank Johan Meyer, who were yellow-carded in the second half, in their starting XV.
– Connacht won their first away game since last year by stunning a 14-man Ulster 22-15 in an exhilarating Irish derby. Marcell Coetzee made his return from a bruised shoulder, starting at No 8 for Ulster. Former Stormers lock Quinn Roux started for Connacht.
– The Scarlets climbed to second place in Conference B with a 20-17 win against Welsh rivals the Ospreys. David Bulbring started at lock for the Scarlets, who brought prop Werner Kruger off the bench. Tom Botha came into the Ospreys front row early in the second half, while wing Hanno Dirksen was an injury replacement for the visitors in the first half.
– In another all-Welsh derby, the Cardiff Blues claimed a crucial 23-15 victory over the Dragons. Lock George Earle had a strong first half for the Blues, before being removed in the opening minutes of the second half. The Dragons had centre Jarryd Sage and prop Brok Harris in their lineup.
– CJ Stander‘s try could not prevent Munster from dropping points in a 30-22 loss to Irish rivals Leinster. Jean Kleyn started for Munster, who brought flank Chris Cloete off the bench just after half-time.
– Treviso ended their run of three consecutive losses by beating a 14-man Kings side 28-5 in Italy. Scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage scored early in the match off the back of a 5m scrum, while flank Braam Steyn also put in a workmanlike shift in the wet. Lock Irne Herbst came off the bench for the hosts.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Lock Flip van der Merwe and his Clermont teammates slumped to a 16-12 defeat against La Rochelle in a game marred by ill-discipline. La Rochelle conceded a yellow card, while the table-topping Clermont conceded two yellows and a red.
– Montpellier piled more misery on Toulon when they beat the former champions 29-17. The star-studded Montpellier lineup saw Jan Serfontein (inside centre), Johan Goosen (flyhalf), Ruan Pienaar (scrumhalf), Paul Willemse and Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (both locks), Jannie du Plessis (prop) and Bismarck du Plessis (hooker) all start. Serfontein scored a try and Pienaar added three conversions and a penalty. Goosen, though, had contrasting fortunes as he was stretchered off the field in the sixth minute after suffering a bad ankle injury. Toulon had their own contingent of Springboks in their lineup, with JP Pietersen playing outside centre, Jacques Potgieter at openside flank and Marcel van der Merwe in the front row.
– Resurgent Pau edged Perpignan 12-9 at home. Tighthead prop Lourens Adriaanse started for the winning team, while Gert Muller played in the same position for Perpignan.
– Lyon caused a big upset when they beat Racing 19-13 in Paris. Lock Etienne Oosthuizen and flank Deon Fourie featured for Lyon, who are now up to third on the log. Racing, who had Antonie Claassen at No 8, are seventh.
– Grenoble upset Bordeaux 28-25 in an entertaining clash that produced six tries. Prop JC Janse van Rensburg and lock Francois Uys were on duty for Grenoble. Jandré Marais played No 4 for the eighth-ranked Bordeaux.
– Toulouse claimed a dull 10-0 triumph over Johann Sadie’s Agen at home. The winners had Rynhardt Elstadt and Maks van Dyk in their ranks.
– Scrumhalf Rory Kockott kicked a last-minute penalty to salvage a losing bonus point for Castres, who went down 14-9 against Stade Français. Kockott, who kicked three penalties, played alongside centre Robert Ebersohn, prop Daniel Kötze and hooker Jody Jenneker. Springbok trio Piet van Zyl, Heinke van der Merwe and Morné Steyn turned out for Stade.
JAPANESE TOP LEAGUE
– Gerhard van den Heever kicked seven crucial points (two conversions and a penalty) to guide the Kubota Spears to a 22-16 win against the Ricoh Black Rams. Lock Ruan Botha, flank Lappies Labuschagne, No 8 Duane Vermeulen and centre Burger Odendaal featured alongside Van den Heever for Kubota.
– The Canon Eagles, with Jan de Klerk, Philip van der Walt and Fred Zeilinga in their ranks, overpowered the Coca-Cola Red Sparks 43-24. Zeilinga succeeded with four of his seven conversions.
– Fullback Gio Aplon scored a brace as Toyota Verblitz hammered the Munakata Sanix Blues 52-7. Flank Jason Jenkins and replacement centre Clinton Swart also scored a try each for Verblitz, while flyhalf Lionel Cronjé kicked six conversions. Locks Carl Wegner and Reniel Hugo also started for the winning team. Hencus van Wyk played tighthead prop for the Sanix Blues.
– Fullback Coenraad van Wyk’s try was in vain as the Toshiba Brave Lupus slumped to a 27-7 defeat at the hands of Yamaha Jubilo. Flank Henco Venter also represented the Brave Lupus. Kwagga Smith and wing Gerrie Labuschagne started for Yamaha, with the latter crossing the line for a try.
– The NEC Green Rockets won a thrilling contest against the NTT Communications Shining Arcs 34-31. Loose forwards Willie Britz and Robert Kruger and No 10 Garth April were on duty for the Shining Arcs. April nailed three conversions and skewed two.
– Centre Harold Vorster bagged a brace in the Panasonic Wild Knights’ 41-12 thrashing of the Honda Heat. Panasonic scored seven tries in total.
– Compiled by Mariette Adams & Dylan Jack
Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images