SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s English Premiership, Pro14 and French Top 14 matches involving South African players.
– The Bristol Bears made an excellent start to life in the Premiership by stunning Francois Louw’s Bath 17-10. Louw, who is set to link up with the Springboks in Australia, came off the bench but was unable to inspire his team to a comeback win.
– Johann Ackermann’s Gloucester proved too strong for the Northampton Saints, claiming a 27-16 win. Ruan Ackermann started for Gloucester, while former Sharks hooker Franco Marais came off the bench to make his debut for his new club. Heinrich Brüssouw and Cobus Reinach started for the Saints, who had loosehead prop Francois van Wyk on the bench.
– Jono Ross’ Sale Sharks slumped to a 51-26 defeat to Harlequins. Former Lions No 8 Josh Strauss was named on the bench, but played virtually the entire match for the Sharks after coming on in the third minute as an injury replacement.
– Nizaam Carr made his second ‘debut’ for Wasps in their dramatic 21-20 win against the Worcester Warriors, who were captained by Gerrit-Jan van Velze. Carr, who joined Wasps permanently from the Stormers after enjoying a successful loan spell in January, was replaced early in the second half by Ashley Johnson. Carr’s teammate Juan de Jongh won his battle against former Cheetahs captain Francois Venter, who played the entire 80 minutes in his first game for the Warriors. Francois Hougaard started for the Warriors, who lost flank Cornell du Preez to a throat injury in his first game for the side.
– The Exeter Chiefs kicked off their campaign with a stylish 40-6 win against the Leicester Tigers. Flank Don Armand started for the Chiefs and made 10 tackles and two crucial turnovers.
– Saracens needed a late try to see off a determined Newcastle Falcons team as they started their title defence with a 32-21 win. Brad Barritt started for Saracens, who also had flank Michael Rhodes and tighthead prop Vincent Koch in their starting XV.
– The Cardiff Blues lost 32-31 at home to a second-string Leinster team. Lock George Earle came off the bench for the Blues, who were denied a win as Leinster scored a last-gasp converted try.
– Wing Hanno Dirksen started for the Ospreys in their 18-13 win against Edinburgh. Former Bulls wing Duhan van der Merwe could not prevent opposite number George North from scoring a brace. Pierre Schoeman made his debut for the Scottish team – facing Cardiff’s Tom Botha – and was replaced by Alan Dell in the second half. Flyhalf Jaco van der Walt came off the bench and converted a late Edinburgh try.
– Johan Meyer put in a workmanlike performance as Zebre took maximum points in their 32-16 win against the Kings. Former Bulls flyhalf Francois Brummer was named on the bench for Zebre but did not get any game time.
– The Glasgow Warriors needed a late drop goal to claim a 27-26 win against Connacht. Experienced wing DTH van der Merwe started for the Warriors along with loosehead prop Oli Kebble, who was replaced early in the second half. Lock Quinn Roux came off the bench for Connacht.
– Johann van Graan’s Munster got the better of Franco Smith’s Cheetahs side, claiming a 38-0 win. No 8 Arno Botha put in a memorable showing for Munster, making 16 tackles and a total of 93m from six carries, while lock Jean Kleyn helped shove teammate Dave Kilcoyne over for Munster’s second try.
– Flank Marcell Coetzee played his first Pro14 game since his comeback from injury in Ulster’s 15-13 win against the Scarlets. Coetzee managed 54 minutes before being replaced in the second half. Clayton Blommetjies was busy on debut at fullback for the Scarlets, making 46m, but was unable to get on the scoresheet. Tighthead prop Werner Kruger started for the Scarlets, who had lock David Bulbring yellow-carded, which gifted Ulster the winning penalty.
– Treviso flank Braam Steyn scored one of their three tries as they snuck past the Dragons 21-17. Steyn powered over the line in the second half.
French Top 14
– Montpellier beat La Rochelle 36-14 to secure their first win of the season. Outside centre Frans Steyn, flyhalf Johan Goosen, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, flank Wiaan Liebenberg, lock Paul Willemse and prop Jannie du Plessis started for Montpellier, while utility back Henry Immelman was on the bench. Willemse scored one of his side’s four tries, Pienaar kicked 11 points via a conversion and three penalties and Steyn added a conversion and a penalty. Former Sharks centre Paul Jordaan started for La Rochelle.
– Pau, with prop Lourens Adriaanse in their ranks, stunned Toulon 20-10 at home. Prop Marcel van der Merwe and flank Jacques Potgieter played for Toulon, who are now rooted to the bottom of the log after losing both their opening games.
– Replacement scrumhalf Rory Kockott held his nerve to kick a 79th-minute penalty and give Castres a dramatic 19-16 win against Lyon. Fullback Scott Spedding, centre Robert Ebersohn, prop Dan Kötze and Jody Jenneker were in Castres’ starting lineup, while No 8 Deon Fourie, locks Hendrik Roodt and Etienne Oosthuizen earned starting berths for Lyon.
– Ex-Stormers duo Raymond Rhule and JC Janse van Rensburg were on duty for Grenoble, who slumped to a 23-20 defeat against Toulouse. Another ex-Stormers man, Rynhardt Elstadt, starred for Toulouse.
– Heyneke Meyer’s Stade Français continued their excellent start to the season with a 20-8 win over Bordeaux in Paris. Springboks Piet van Zyl and Heinke van der Merwe were starters and Morné Steyn and Willem Alberts used as impact players off the bench. Jandré Marais was at No 4 lock for the visitors.
– Agen, who had Johann Sadie at outside centre, pipped Perpignan 25-23. Bêrend Botha started at No 5 lock for the competition newcomers.
– In the most anticipated clash of the round, lock Flip van der Merwe and his Clermont teammates smashed Racing 40-17. The result sees Clermont overtake Stade at the top of the standings.
Compiled by Dylan Jack & Mariette Adams
Photo: Laurent Frezouls/Icon Sport via Getty Images