• Saffas Abroad: Etzebeth puts in power shift

    SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the South African players who featured for their respective clubs in the Top 14, PRO14 and Trailfinders Challenge Cup.

    TOP 14

    –  Eben Etzebeth put in a powerhouse performance as Toulon claimed a vital 29-23 away victory over Racing 92, closing the gap on their third-placed opponents to just four points. Etzebeth carried strongly for Toulon and the Springbok lock played a role in both their two tries.  France-capped lock Bernard le Roux started for Racing 92.

    – Pau climbed above fellow Top 14 strugglers Bayonne thanks to a hard-fought 23-22 win on Saturday. Former Sharks tighthead prop Lourens Adriaanse started for Pau, who are now in 11th place.

    – Clermont scored a 75th-minute 50-metre penalty to secure a 16-16 draw with Bordeaux. Joseph Dweba returned to action for Bordeaux from the bench, making an appearance in the 60th minute, but he struggled at the lineout and gave away the penalty which allowed Clermont to snatch the draw. Jandre Marais started at lock for Bordeaux, while Japan fullback Kotaro Matsushima started for Clermont. The two sides are currently tied on the Top 14 table with 35 points each, with Clermont ahead in fifth place thanks to a superior points difference.

    – Henry Immelman‘s try was in vain as Montpellier’s struggles continued when they slipped to a 21-19 home loss to Castres. Montpellier are currently in the relegation playoff zone in 13th place after winning just three of their 13 matches to date. Immelman, who started at fullback, was one of a handful of South Africans who played for Montpellier including scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and replacements Bismarck du Plessis and Nico Janse van Rensburg. Lock Rayno Pieterse started for Castres, who are in ninth place.

    PRO14

    – The Glasgow Warriors hung on to claim a 23-22 derby victory over rivals Edinburgh and lift themselves off the bottom of their PRO14 conference. Halfback pair Nic Groom and Jaco van der Walt started for Edinburgh. Groom endured a comical blunder in the first half when he mistook the horn of a train passing Scotstoun’s North Stand for the half-time hooter, kicking the ball out on the full and allowing the Warriors to win a penalty. Van der Walt kicked a penalty and conversion in the first half to put Edinburgh 10-9 up at the break, but he was yellow-carded in the second half. Front rowers Michael WillemsePierre Schoeman and WP Nel played off the bench for Edinburgh, with Nel making his 150th appearance for the club.

    TRAILFINDERS CHALLENGE CUP

    – The Ealing Trailfinders produced a magnificent defensive display to edge out Saracens in a 27-26 victory in the Trailfinders Challenge Cup. The competition serves as a curtain-raiser for the Championship, which will get under way on 6 March. Saturday’s match was the only one involving an English side, with the Premiership currently on a two-week break, and was Saracens’ first outing since they were relegated from the Premiership. There were several South Africans starting for the Trailfinders, including loosehead prop Kyle Whyte, debutant lock Bobby de Wee, captain and No 8 Rayn Smid, centre Pat Howard and wing Dean Hammond. De Wee put in a good performance in his first appearance for his new club after completing a move from the Kings last week. Whyte was also very good and put in a solid shift against Saracens and Springbok tighthead Vincent Koch. Namibian-born and former Western Province flank Janco Venter also started for Saracens, who were without most of their England internationals.

    Photo: Anthony Dibon/Icon Sport via Getty Images

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    Dylan Jack