• Saffas Abroad: Akker, Rohan help Sale bounce back

    SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the South African players who featured for their respective clubs in the third round of the English Premiership.

    – The Bristol Bears came from 14-5 half-time deficit to beat the Northampton Saints 18-17 at Ashton Gate by scoring a last-minute penalty. David Ribbans started at lock for the Saints and showed why he was recently called up to an England training squad, opening the scoring with a try while also making 12 tackles and beating three defenders from four carries. Also in action for Northampton were loosehead prop Francois van Wyk and loose forward Shaun Adendorff.

    – The Exeter Chiefs continued their charge at the top of the table with the defending champions putting in an excellent second-half performance to claim a 35-13 win over the Leicester Tigers, after trailing 13-7 at the break. Jannes Kirsten started at openside flank for the Chiefs and scored one of their four second-half tries. Kirsten also made 11 carries and 11 tackles, while he beat two defenders. The Leicester Tigers continued with their all-South African back row of Hanro Liebenberg, Cyle Brink and No 8 Jasper Wiese, while Jaco Taute started at outside centre.

    – Former Sharks scrumhalf Louis Schreuder made his Premiership debut as the newly promoted Newcastle Falcons continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 27-17 victory over Wasps in Coventry. Schreuder, who officially joined Newcastle in September, played the final 10 minutes off the bench. Newcastle are currently two points away from the Exeter Chiefs.

    – Bath picked up their first win of the campaign by beating the Worcester Warriors 33-17. The Warriors fielded a starting lineup with a strong South African influence which included centre Francois Venter, scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, No 8 Cornell du Preez, lock Anton Bresler and tighthead prop Richard Palframan. Venter was the most influential of the bunch, making 74 metres from 14 carries, completing all seven of his tackles, beating four defenders and picking up a try assist. Former Sharks loosehead prop Juan Schoeman came off the bench for Bath.

    – Akker van der Merwe scored the decisive try as the Sale Sharks bounced back from their disappointing loss to Newcastle with a hard-fought 21-13 win away over London Irish. Van der Merwe was one of six South Africans in Sale’s starting lineup, which also included Rohan Janse van Rensburg, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and a back row of Cobus Wiese, captain Jono Ross and No 8 Jean-Luc du Preez. Janse van Rensburg also scored a try in the first half in a good performance at inside centre, where he made 15 carries for 37m and beat five defenders. Sale’s back row of Wiese, Ross and du Preez made a combined effort of 51 tackles. Robert du Preez came off the bench for Sale in the 60th minute. Scotland-capped loosehead prop Allan Dell started for London Irish.

    – Harlequins held on to beat Gloucester 34-24 despite being reduced to 14 men when their Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen was sent off. Esterhuizen was red-carded minutes into the second half after the TMO spotted that he had thrown an elbow into the face of an opposition player. However, Harlequins were still able to claim the victory, thanks in part to an excellent kicking performance from flyhalf Marcus Smith. Springbok tighthead prop Wilco Louw also started for Harlequins, while Tyrone Green got a couple of minutes of game time as a substitute. Props Simon Kerrod and Jordan Els also came off the bench for Harlequins. Ruan Ackermann started at No 8 for Gloucester and made 11 carries for 45m, nine tackles and assisted a try.

    Photo: Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images

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    Dylan Jack