SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s English Premiership and PRO14 matches involving South African players.
– Bath bounced back from their opening-round loss to edge out the Exeter Chiefs in a 13-10 home win. Jacques Vermeulen played just under an hour at flank for the Chiefs. He made 11 carries and one clean break, along with 12 tackles before being replaced for the final 20 minutes. Jannes Kirsten was brought off the bench at lock in the second half and made 10 tackles.
– The Northampton Saints followed up their opening win over Saracens by claiming a 35-16 bonus-point victory over the Worcester Warriors. Francois Venter grabbed a consolation try for the Warriors in the 78th minute of the match after coming on as a replacement in the second half. Francois Hougaard started at scrumhalf but was replaced in the 44th minute. Loose forwards Cornell du Preez and Gerrit-Jan van Velze were also both in action for the Warriors, with Van Velze taking Du Preez’s place at No 8 in the second half. It was the Warriors’ first loss of the season and continued their trend of never starting a Premiership season with back-to-back wins.
– Gloucester are the only other team to stay unbeaten following their 25-9 bonus-point win over Wasps. Ruan Ackermann, Jaco Kriel, Gerbrandt Grobler and Franco Marais were all in Gloucester’s pack, while hooker Corne Fourie was on the bench. Ackermann was the standout player, making 32 metres from his four carries, assisting one of Gloucester’s four tries and completing all five of his tackles. Centre Juan de Jongh and loose forwards Nizaam Carr and Ashley Johnson were in action for Wasps. Carr starred by completing 12 of his 13 tackle attempts while making nine carries and beating three defenders. Wasps are second from bottom after the opening two rounds.
– Harlequins needed 17 points from the boot of young English flyhalf Marcus Smith to beat the Bristol Bears 22-17. Stephan Lewies was at lock for Harlequins and won five lineouts and stole one. Harlequins are sixth after their first win of the season, with the Bristol Bears fourth following their first loss.
– Robert du Preez was back in top form as he scored 16 points to help the Sale Sharks hammer newly promoted London Irish 41-7 in a bonus-point away win. Du Preez scored a second-half try to go with four conversions and a drop goal to provide a reminder of his ability, after he missed a potential winning penalty in the Sharks’ loss to Gloucester last weekend. Hooker Akker van der Merwe and centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg also crossed for tries as the Sharks stormed up to third place on the log. Jean-Luc du Preez joined captain Jono Ross and brother Daniel in the Sharks’ loose trio after playing at lock last weekend. Coenie Oosthuizen started at tighthead prop for the Sharks. Franco van der Merwe and Ruan Botha were in the second row for the Irish, while loosehead prop Allan Dell made his first appearance for the team after recovering from his World Cup duties with Scotland. Botha scored the home side’s only try to complete a fine individual performance that included 15 tackles and 25m from nine carries.
– Defending champions Saracens got back on track with a 24-10 win over the Leicester Tigers. Centre EW Viljoen and flank Hanro Liebenberg both started for the Tigers, who are bottom of the table and the only side without a single point. Liebenberg made 11 tackle attempts and missed two, while making 10 carries and winning a turnover. Viljoen made six carries and beat two defenders.
– Replacement No 8 Arno Botha came on in the 57th minute to score the all-important try that gave Munster 28-12 bonus-point win against the Ospreys. Former Cheetahs prop Tom Botha started for Ospreys, who are sixth in the Conference A standings. Munster are third in Conference B.
– Ex-Sharks duo Louis Ludik and Marcell Coetzee both put in 80-minute shifts for Ulster in their 23-14 win over the Cardiff Blues. Ulster moved up to third in Conference A and the Blues are second last in the other conference.
– The Glasgow Warriors’ struggles continued with an 18-5 defeat by the Dragons, who had Brok Harris in their side. Wing Kyle Steyn, centre Huw Jones, flyhalf Brandon Thomson and prop Oli Kebble turned out for the Warriors. Jones crossed in the 80th minute to get a consolation try for Glasgow.
– Scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenhage and lock Eli Snyman featured in the Treviso lineup that inflicted an agonising 36-30 defeat on the Kings. Treviso are fifth in Conference B and the Kings seventh.
– Connacht claimed a dramatic 24-22 victory over the Cheetahs, with former Stormers lock Quinn Roux playing 50 minutes for the winners.
– Flank Johan Meyer and his Zebre teammates slumped to a 3-0 loss against Leinster, for what was the lowest-scoring game in PRO14 history. The teams are at opposite ends of the Conference A table, with Leinster sitting pretty at the top and Zebre at the bottom.
– Wing Duhan van der Merwe bagged a hat-trick as Edinburgh romped to a one-sided 46-7 bonus-point victory over the Scarlets. Former Kings captain Michael Willemse also got on the scoresheet for the winners, while compatriots Pierre Schoeman and Jaco van der Walt also played for winning team. Forwards Uzair Cassiem, Juandre Kurger and Werner Kruger represented the Scarlets.
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