SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s English Premiership, Top 14, Pro14 and Major League Rugby matches involving South African players.
– Toulon stunned log leaders Toulouse by ending their 14-match unbeaten streak with a 25-10 defeat, despite having to play almost the entirety of the second half with 14 men. Former Sharks wing JP Pietersen, playing at fullback, showed his strength to crash over for Toulon’s first try. Maks van Dyk was at tighthead prop for Toulouse, who were with regular fullback Cheslin Kolbe. Toulon had Marcel van der Merwe on the bench.
– Paul Willemse was among the scorers as Montpellier claimed a bonus-point 33-17 win over Agen. It was Monpellier’s fourth win in a row, after victories against Bordeaux, Toulon and Pau. Willemse saw yellow in the 60th minute but on his return to the field powered over the line from close range to seal the win. Bismarck du Plessis, Jacques du Plessis, Jan Serfontein and Henry Immelman all started for Montpellier, who brought Johan Goosen off the bench.
– Second-from-bottom Grenoble shocked Stade Français by handing them a 21-17 defeat. Piet van Zyl’s 77th-minute try was not enough to save the game for Stade, but did allow them to gain a losing bonus point, which saw them climb above La Rochelle into seventh place on the table. Loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg and lock Francois Uys were both in action for Grenoble. Stade Français had Hendré Stassen and No 8 Willem Alberts in their forward pack, while replacement flyhalf Morné Steyn kicked two conversions for the Parisians.
– Defending champions Castres boosted their hopes of finishing in the top six by beating playoff rivals La Rochelle 25-11. Hooker Jody Jenneker and scrumhalf Rory Kockott both started for Castres, with Kockott kicking one of their four penalties. Wiaan Liebenberg was at flank for La Rochelle, who dropped to eighth place.
– Former Lions lock Hendrik Roodt scored a crucial try to help Lyon stave off a Pau comeback and win 27-24. Roodt scored in the first half as Lyon raced into a 14-0 lead after 10 minutes. Deon Fourie, now playing as a loose forward, and veteran tighthead prop Albertus Buckle were both replacements for Lyon, who remain in third on the log.
– Clermont were given a scare as they had to settle for a 31-31 draw with Racing 92, despite going into half-time 25-18 ahead. The second-placed team scored four first-half tries, but were pinned back in the second period as Racing threatened to steal a win. The result did allow Clermont, who had tighthead prop Jaco van Tonder on the bench, to gain ground on league leaders Toulouse as they are now five points off the top of the table.
– The Glasgow Warriors kept up the pace on top of Conference A by easing to a 30-7 win against Ulster. Kyle Steyn continued his good form in the Warriors midfield by making 79m from 11 carries while also setting up one of their four tries. The Warriors also bossed the scrums, with loosehead prop Oli Kebble making easy work of his tighthead opponent. Despite the loss, Ulster No 8 Marcell Coetzee clocked impressive stats, making 30m from 15 carries as well as 14 tackles before being replaced on the 66-minute mark. Hooker Rob Herring scored Ulster’s only try of the match and was substituted just after half-time.
– Munster all but sealed their place in the playoffs with a 45-21 victory over the Cardiff Blues. The win was largely down to a superb second-half cameo from No 8 CJ Stander, who scored shortly after coming onto the field in the 44th minute. Loose forwards Arno Botha and Chris Cloete also put in good shifts for the Irish side, while lock Jean Kleyn scored one of their two first-half tries. Munster remain three points off first place with two rounds remaining.
– The Osprey continued their late push for a Conference A playoff place with a 31-14 win against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. Hanno Dirksen put in a workmanlike performance on the Ospreys’ right wing, making 58m with ball-in-hand, while tighthead prop Tom Botha was replaced after just six minutes. The Welsh side is seven points away from third place in the conference.
– Connacht came through a tough test to claim a 6-5 win against Zebre in Parma and hold on to the final playoff place in Conference A. Francois Brummer was at flyhalf for Zebre, who remain rooted to the bottom of the conference having won just three games all season.
– Jaco van der Walt put in a standout performance to help Edinburgh come from a 12-point deficit to beat the Scarlets 20-12. The flyhalf kicked two penalties, a conversion and scored a self-converted try as Edinburgh rescued the match in a 24-minute second-half blitz. Edinburgh wing Duhan van der Merwe had a quiet outing by his standards, while props Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel found it tough against the Scarlets’ all-Welsh starting front row, which was bolstered by Werner Kruger in the second half. No 8 Uzair Cassiem made 11 tackles and 10 passes for the Scarlets.
– Benetton Treviso kicked a penalty after the hooter to claim a 27-27 draw against Conference B leaders and defending champions Leinster in Dublin. Flank Braam Steyn made a massive 25 carries for the Italians, winning 46m, while also making 24 tackles as they continued their charge towards the playoffs. Scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage, who has proved indispensable since arriving from the Stormers, and lock Irne Herbst also starred for Treviso, who remain in third place in Conference B.
– The Dragons needed a penalty five minutes from full time to rescue an 18-18 draw in their basement battle with the Kings in Port Elizabeth. Zane Kirchner had a nervy outing for the Dragons in a match that bizarrely saw the fullback spend most of the second half on the sidelines when the Welsh side had both front rankers yellow-carded. Loosehead prop Brok Harris had a solid first half for the Dragons and was replaced just after the break, but had to come back onto the field when tighthead props Llyod Fairbrother and Leon Brown were both sent to the sin bin. The result kept the Dragons’ hopes of avoiding a wooden-spoon finish alive as they are just one point away from the Kings in Conference B
– Saracens came from a point down at half-time to defeat the Newcastle Falcons 26-12. Vincent Koch, Schalk Burger and Michael Rhodes boosted Sarries’ pack, with Burger emerging as the game’s top tackler (17). Saracens are second on the log and Newcastle last.
– Nizaam Carr played a starring role in Wasps’ 28-16 triumph over the Worcester Warriors. The ex-Stormers flank made 12 tackles, 12 passes, nine carries and 84 running meters. He was joined in the team by fellow Springboks Willie le Roux, Juan de Jongh and Ashley Johnson. The Warriors ulitised the services of Francois Hougaard, Francois Venter, Scott van Breda, Cornell du Preez and Anton Bresler.
– The Sale Sharks, featuring centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, flank Jono Ross and lock Josh Strauss, did just enough to see off Harlequins and claim a 28-17 win. Demetri Catrakilis started for Quins and kicked two first-half conversions.
– Don Armand’s Exeter Chiefs shrugged off an iffy first half and produced a ruthless second-half display to thrash the Leicester Tigers 52-20. The competition leaders kept Leicester scoreless after the break.
– Gloucester claimed their first win at Franklin’s Gardens since 2013 when they beat hosts the Northampton Saints 40-31. The third-placed Gloucester had Franco Mostert, Franco Marais, Ruan Ackermann and Jaco Kriel in their lineup and were rewarded with star performances from all four South Africans. Ackermann and Marais scored a try apiece. Prop Ruan Dreyer featured off the bench for the winners. Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, prop Francois van Wyk and flank Heinrich Brüssow started for Northampton with Reinach scoring a try, while Brüssow was forced off in the 56th minute due to an injury.
MAJOR LEAGUE RUGBY
– The Glendale Raptors came from 32-0 down to claim a remarkable 52-44 victory at home against the Houston SaberCats. Flank Hanco Germishuys, scrumhalf Shaun Davies and centres Robbie Petzer and Chad London were in the Raptors’ run-on XV. The Saffa midfielders played particularly well as they breached the first line of defence with relative ease. Petzer also scored a try and succeeded with two conversions after taking over the kicking duties. Scrumhalf Carlo de Nysschen came on for his compatriot and captain Davies after 62 minutes.
Try! Petzer dots it down for the Raptors.
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) April 7, 2019
– Loosehead prop Franco van den Berg’s try for the Utah Warriors was in vain as they slumped to a 48-36 defeat to the Seattle Seawolves. Hooker Stephan Coetzee and No 8 Riekert Hattingh scored for Seattle, who also had scrumhalf JP Smith on their bench. Seattle are fourth on the log and Utah eighth.
– A last-minute try handed the Nola Gold a thrilling 35-31 win against hosts the Toronto Arrows. Fullback JP Eloff’s 15-point contribution, via a try and four conversions, played a major role for the winners, while centre Tristan Blewett also chipped in with a try. The backline duo turned out alongside compatriot Hubert Buydens for Nola, while prop Rob Brouwer played for the Arrows.
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) April 7, 2019
– Flyhalf Joe Pietersen and inside centre JP du Plessis were on the scoresheet again as the San Diego Legion claimed a convincing 45-15 victory over the Austin Elite. Captain Pietersen slotted four conversions and Du Plessis crashed over for the Legion’s first try of the second half, while Dean Muir started at hooker. Austin had prop Brendan Rams, hooker Tiaan Erasmus, lock Rikus Zwart, flank Kyle Breytenbach and wing Zinzan Elan-Puttick in their ranks.
Compiled by Dylan Jack & Mariette Adams