SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s Top 14, PRO14 and Premiership Rugby Cup matches involving South African players.
PREMIERSHIP RUGBY CUP
– Akker van der Merwe made the perfect start to life in Manchester as he scored a try in his first start for the Sale Sharks in their 24-20 win over Wasps. Van der Merwe dotted down three minutes into his starting debut to help Sale claim a crucial victory. Flyhalf Robert du Preez, starting in a halfback partnership with on-loan Embrose Papier, kicked three conversions and a penalty for Sale. Tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen made his first appearance for Sale from the bench in the second half, while flank Jono Ross started his first game of the season for the Sharks. Wasps had flanks Ashley Johnson and Nizaam Carr, as well as centre Juan de Jongh, in their starting lineup.
– Jacques Vermeulen scored his first try for the Exeter Chiefs as they beat the Worcester Warriors 34-19. Vermeulen, who joined the Chiefs on a permanent deal from the Sharks, scored one of Exeter’s four tries from the bench. Former Bulls flank Jannes Kirsten also made an appearance from the bench for the Chiefs. The Worcester Warriors had No 8 Cornell du Preez and wing Dean Hammond in their starting lineup, while they brought utility back Scott van Breda on in the second half.
– The Leicester Tigers held out to claim an 18-7 win over Bath, after leading 15-0 at half time. Hanro Liebenberg was a second-half substitute for the Tigers, who were reduced to 14 men for the final 30 minutes of the match.
– Harlequins secured their third successive win in the cup by claiming an entertaining 40-31 victory over Gloucester. Lock Stephan Lewies started for Harlequins, while Travis Ismaiel made a late appearance in the final 10 minutes of the contest. Ruan Ackermann, Gerbrandt Grobler and Franco Marais were all in Gloucester’s starting pack. Ackermann was yellow-carded after a scuffle broke out between both teams. Grobler drove over in the second half to bring Gloucester close to securing a comeback win.
– The Bristol Bears kept their cup hopes alive with a 44-27 win over the London Irish. Ruan Botha started for the Irish, who brought experienced tighthead prop Pat Cilliers on off the bench.
– Saracens ran in seven tries to romp to their second cup win over the Northampton Saints. Prop Francois van Wyk and hooker Michael van Vuuren started in the Saints front row, while Heinrich Brussow got 20 minutes of action from the bench.
– Uzair Cassiem and Werner Kruger put in strong defensive efforts for the Scarlets in a 25-21 win against the Glasgow Warriors in Glasgow. No 8 Cassiem made 15 tackles, the second most of any player in the match, while tighthead prop Kruger made 13 tackles after coming on in the second half. Flyhalf Brandon Thomson, centre Kyle Steyn and loosehead prop Oli Kebble once again started for Glasgow, who have lost their two opening fixtures this season.
– Defending champions Leinster continued their imposing start to the season with a 53-5 thrashing of the Ospreys. Former Cheetahs scrumhalf Shaun Venter made his first start for the Ospreys, for whom wing Hanno Dirksen and tighthead prop Tom Botha also played.
– Munster were made to work hard to claim a 31-20 bonus-point win over the Kings in Port Elizabeth. No 8 Arno Botha capped a fine display by scoring Munster’s fourth try. Botha made a total of 67m from six carries, while also completing 12 tackles. Chris Cloete made a brief appearance from the bench against his former side, but went down injured after just nine minutes on the field.
– Jaco van der Walt put in a Man of the Match display to help Edinburgh beat the Cardiff Blues 19-11 in Cardiff. Van der Walt kicked four penalties and converted Edinburgh’s only try to steer the Scottish side to their second win of the season. Wing Duhan van der Merwe, scrumhalf Nic Groom, loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman and hooker Michael Willemse all started for Edinburgh. Van der Merwe made 106m, while Schoeman made 23m from four carries.
– The Dragons ended their four-and-a-half year wait for an away win in the PRO14 by claiming an emphatic 52-28 win over a 14-man Zebre in Italy. Loosehead prop Brok Harris played 77 minutes for the Dragons, while flank Johan Meyer started for Zebre.
– Ulster put in a stuttering performance as they were hammered 63-26 by the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. Utility back Louis Ludik and hooker Rob Herring were both in action for the visitors, who were able to grab a four-try bonus point.
– Connacht claimed their first win of the season by beating Benetton Treviso 41-5. Ireland-capped South African lock Quinn Roux started for Connacht, who were able to come away with all five points.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Brive continued their stunning start to the season by securing a 23-9 win over defending champion Toulouse. Lock Jan Uys played for Brive. Toulouse had Bok flank Rynhardt Elstadt in their starting lineup and brought on tighthead prop Maks van Dyk and hooker Jaco Visagie off the bench. Toulouse are second from bottom in 13th place, having won just two matches all season. It was Brive’s third win of the season, after they beat Toulon last weekend.
– Toulon bounced back from their loss last weekend with a 23-3 victory against La Rochelle. On-loan duo Wilco Louw and Louis Schreuder started for Toulon, who had tighthead Marcel van der Merwe on the bench. Flank Wiaan Liebenberg played for La Rochelle, who suffered their fourth defeat of the season.
– Racing 92 climbed the table with their second win of the season, 31-3 over Pau. The Parisians had French-capped No 8 Antonie Classen in their starting lineup and climbed to 10th place on the log. Pau slipped from third to sixth with the defeat.
– High-flying Lyon continued their unbeaten start to the season by narrowly beating Bordeaux 25-23. Etienne Oosthuizen was at lock for Lyon, who continue to top the table with six wins out of six. Bordeaux are in second place, having lost just twice this season.
– Johann Sadie‘s third try of the season was not enough to prevent Agen from losing 29-27 to Bayonne. Sadie, who has been in excellent form this season, went over minutes into the second half to help Agen come away with a losing bonus point. Agen are in 11th place after six games, while Bayonne are third, nine points behind Lyon.
– Castres piled more misery on to Stade Francais by hammering the Parisian team 46-16. Rory Kockott kicked a penalty and two conversions for Castres, who brough centre Robert Ebersohn and hooker Jody Jenneker into the game in the second half. Playing at fullback, Ruan Combrinck scored his first try for Stade, while flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked three penalties and a conversion. Tighthead prop Carlu Sadie and loose forwards Willem Alberts and Josh Strauss all did duty for the Parisians. Stade are currently bottom of the table, with one win this season. Castres are in fifth place.
– Clermont began the weekend’s action with a thrilling 20-13 win over Montpellier. Scrumhalf Rudy Paige and lock Jaco van Tonder were second-half replacements for Clermont, as last season’s finalists claimed their second successive win. Locks Jacques du Plessis and Paul Willemse, flyhalf Johan Goosen, centre Jan Serfontein, fullback Henry Immelman and tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis turned out for Montpellier.
Photo: Paul Harding/Getty Images