Saffas Abroad: Bok centres clash in Japan

Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel went head-to-head in Japan’s League One semi-finals, while Ruan Ackermann warmed up for this weekend’s European final against the Sharks with a big win.

– Sale Sharks shrugged off Manu Tuilagi’s injury to stun Saracens 20-10 and secure their place in the Premiership playoffs in the final round of action. In a repeat of last season’s final, a try from Robert du Preez helped Sale establish a 20-3 lead and finish third on the table. Cobus Wiese and Hyron Andrews formed the lock partnership for Sale, who will face Bath in the semi-finals. Saracens, who had Ivan van Zyl at scrumhalf, will take on league leaders Northampton Saints in the playoffs.

– Jasper Wiese‘s farewell performance for Leicester Tigers ended in a red card during a 40-22 victory over Exeter Chiefs. Handre Pollard kicked two penalties and four conversions for a haul of 14 points for Leicester, who finished eighth overall, securing a place in the Challenge Cup next season. Jacques Vermeulen started at openside flank for the seventh-placed Exeter Chiefs.

– Bristol Bears missed out on a playoff spot despite powering to a 53-28 bonus-point victory over fellow playoff hunters Harlequins. Benhard Janse van Rensburg started at outside centre for Bristol, but was replaced after just three minutes. Harlequins had locks Stephan Lewies and Irne Herbst, centre Andre Esterhuizen and fullback Tyrone Green in their starting lineup.

– Gloucester warmed up for the Challenge Cup final against the Sharks by thrashing wooden spoonists Newcastle Falcons 54-14. Ruan Ackermann started for a full-strength Gloucester, who condemned Newcastle to finish the season without a single win, with the Falcons becoming just the third team to do so in the history of the Premiership.

– Bath secured second place in the Premiership by scoring six tries in a 43-12 rout of Northampton Saints. Thomas du Toit started at tighthead prop for Bath, who had Quinn Roux at lock and prop Juan Schoeman and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder on the bench. Burger Odendaal made his first start since recovering from injury for Northampton.

French Top 14

– Toulouse consolidated their position as Top 14 leaders as a second-string lineup beat relegation-threatened Montpellier 29-22. Cobus Reinach scored a brace of tries for Montpellier, who suffered a fifth defeat in a row and will have to play a promotion-relegation playoff at the end of the season to stay in the Top 14. Jan Serfontein was also in action for Montpellier.

– Racing 92’s playoff hopes suffered another big blow in a 20-14 loss to 12th-placed Lyon. A third consecutive loss sees Racing drop to sixth place and hold just a three-point lead on 10th place with two rounds to play. Siya Kolisi started for Racing, while Trevor Nyakane was on the bench for the Parisians.

– La Rochelle moved up to fifth place on the table with a 25-23 victory over Pau. Dillyn Leyds started at fullback but was one of three La Rochelle players sent to the sin bin for cynical play in the last five minutes.

– Rory Kockott and Jeremy Ward both scored tries to guide Stade Francais to a crucial 22-18 victory over Bordeaux. The win almost assures Stade of a second-placed finish and automatic qualification for the Top 14 semi-finals. Madosh Tambwe started on the wing for third-placed Bordeaux, who trail Stade by seven points.

Japan Top League

– Unbeaten Wild Knights survived an almighty scare from Canon Eagles to win 20-17 and secure their place in the final. Springbok centres Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel went head-to-head, but it was the former who came out as a winner, scoring the decisive try for Wild Knights in the second half. Lood de Jager also started for Wild Knights, while former Stormers flank Kobus van Dyk joined Kriel in the Eagles’ starting lineup.

– Toshiba Brave Lupus set up a final meeting with the Wild Knights by beating Cheslin Kolbe‘s Suntory Sungoliath in the second semi-final. Kolbe started on the left wing for Sungoliath, who surrendered a 10-7 half-time lead.

Photo: @tkt_wk15/Twitter

Post by