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
– Jaco Kriel‘s first try of the season for Gloucester was in vain as they let a 24-0 lead slip to lose 26-24 to Bath. In his first appearance of the season, Kriel crossed for one of Gloucester’s four tries in the first half. Corne Fourie made his first appearance in a Gloucester jersey since joining from the Stormers this year, coming off the bench in the second half. The win was Bath’s second in the Cup, while it was Gloucester’s fourth successive defeat, leaving them rooted to the bottom of Pool 2.
– The Exeter Chiefs booked their place in the Cup semi-finals with a 42-19 derby victory over the Bristol Bears. Jacques Vermeulen started at flank for the Chiefs, who brought Jannes Kirsten on at lock in the second half. The Chiefs will face Harlequins in the playoffs.
– In their final game of the Cup, the Northampton Saints were able to claim their first win, beating the Leicester Tigers 31-22. Loosehead prop Frans van Wyk, hooker Michael van Vuuren and flank Heinrich Brussow featured for the Saints. Hanro Liebenberg started for the Tigers. The Saints finished bottom of Pool 1. The Tigers ended second in Pool 3 but missed out on the chance to get into the semi-finals as the highest-placed runner-up.
– Dan du Preez starred for the Sale Sharks to help them into the Cup semi-finals with a 27-22 win against the London Irish. The No 8 continued his good start to the season by playing a direct role in two of the Sharks’ four tries. Akker van der Merwe scored the decisive try for the Sharks when he came off the bench in the second half, while Robert du Preez kicked two conversions and a penalty. Coenie Oosthuizen made his first Sharks start after coming off the bench last weekend. Embrose Papier and Jono Ross also featured for the Sharks. Locks Franco van der Merwe and Ruan Botha played for the Irish.
– Last season’s Cup finalists Saracens ended Harlequins unbeaten start to the season with a 28-21 victory in London. Brad Barritt started for Saracens, while Travis Ismaiel was in action for Harlequins. Despite the loss, Harlequins still finish top of Pool 2. The win allowed Saracens to progress to the semi-finals as the best-placed runner-up.
– Wasps ended their Cup campaign on a high by claiming a convincing 39-6 home win over the Worcester Warriors. Juan de Jongh and Nizaam Carr both played for Wasps, who finished third in Pool 1. The Warriors had Francois Hougaard at scrumhalf, with No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze also in their starting lineup.
– The Cheetahs continued their perfect start to the PRO14 season by claiming their third successive bonus-point win with a 40-16 victory over Munster. No 8 Arno Botha was one of Munster’s more impressive players in the match, making nine carries and 11 tackles, while also assisting a try in the second half. Keynan Knox, who attended Michaelhouse as a schoolboy, came off the bench at tighthead prop. It was Munster’s first loss of the season and their first ever to the Cheetahs.
– Connacht’s pack carried them to a comprehensive 38-14 win over the Dragons. Irish-capped lock Quinn Roux started for Connacht. The Dragons had Brok Harris in their starting lineup but the loosehead was replaced after getting injured in the opening couple of minutes. Connacht are second in Conference B with 10 points. The Dragons are fourth in Conference A, with one win out of their first three games.
– Defending champions Leinster continued their ominous start to the season by scoring a flurry of second-half tries to secure a bonus-point 40-14 win over Edinburgh. Despite losing plenty of first-choice players to the Ireland World Cup squad, Leinster showed their quality by scoring four second-half tries to keep the pace with the Cheetahs in Conference A. Wing Duhan van der Merwe, flyhalf Jaco van der Walt, scrumhalf Nic Groom, loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman and hooker Michael Willemse all started for Edinburgh, who dropped to fourth in Conference B.
– Scarlets powered to the top of Conference B with a dominant 54-10 victory against struggling Zebre. Uzair Cassiem produced another impressive display at No 8 for the Scarlets, making a massive 21 carries and 12 passes. Lock Juandre Kruger and tighthead prop Werner Kruger were also in action for the Scarlets. Flank Johan Meyer started for Zebre, who are bottom of Conference A with just one point from their opening three fixtures.
– Marcell Coetzee made an excellent comeback from an ankle injury in Ulster’s 42-17 win over the Kings in Port Elizabeth. Coetzee, who had his World Cup dreams dashed by the injury, made 33m from eight carries and 12 tackles in his first game since suffering the injury. Louis Ludik started on the wing for Ulster and made 55m from eight carries. Ulster are third in Conference A, trailing the Cheetahs and Leinster by four points. The Kings have yet to claim a win and are bottom in Conference B with just one bonus point to their name.
– The Glasgow Warriors claimed their first win of the season with a hard-fought 17-13 win against the Cardiff Blues. Kyle Steyn started on the wing for the Warriors, who had Brandon Thomson at flyhalf. Thomson crucially kicked two conversions and a penalty for his side. Glasgow are fifth in Conference A, with the Blues fifth in Conference B.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Montpellier slumped to an agonising 28-24 defeat by Bayonne, after flyhalf Johan Goosen was red-carded for leading with the elbow in the 43rd minute of the game. Goosen started alongside locks Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Paul Willemse, centre Jan Serfontein and wing Henry Immelman with Jannie du Plessis coming on in the 55th minute. Willemse scored one of Montpellier’s two tries.
– Toulouse claimed a commanding 36-15 bonus-point win over Castres to move into the top three in the standings. Flank Rynhardt Elstadt played for Toulouse, while Castres’ lineup featured Rory Kockott, Robert Ebersohn and hooker Jody Jenneker.
– La Rochelle ran in five tries to demolish Brive 41-17 at home. Brive had centre Nico Lee, who scored their only try, and locks Jan Uys and Peet Marais in their ranks. Former Vodacom Bulls flank Wiaan Liebenberg started for La Rochelle, who moved up to seventh on the log.
– Wing Johann Sadie’s and his Agent teammates snatched a 27-27 draw with the more favoured Racing 92 in Paris. No 8 Antonie Claassen was in the Parisian team’s run-on XV.
– In the biggest upset of the round, the struggling Stade Français stunned Toulon 33-30 in Paris thanks to masterclass kicking from Morne Steyn. The former Springbok sharpshooter slotted four penalties and three conversions for a perfect kicking display and an 18-point tally to lift Stade to a much-needed win. Steyn, scrumhalf James Hall, No 8 Josh Strauss and Willem Alberts, who played lock, were in Stade’s lineup. Toulon had Springbok duo Wilco Louw and Louis Schreuder in their team.
– The high-flying Lyon hammered Pau 27-8 to cement their place at the summit of the standings. Lock Etienne Oosthuizen was used a a second-half substitute for the winning team. Prop Lourens Adriaanse also came on for Pau in the 51st minute, but was sent off seven minutes later for foul play.
– Bordeaux thrashed the ill-disciplined Clermont 42-15 to consolidate their place in the top three on the table. Lock Jaco van Tonder, No 9 Rudy Paige and wing JJ Engelbrecht turned out for Clermont, who remain in fourth position.
Compiled by Dylan Jack and Mariette Adams
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images