SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's European Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup matches, involving South African players.
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP
– Munster, featuring Jaco Taute, CJ Stander, Jean Kleyn and Thomas du Toit, advanced to the quarter-finals of the competition after a narrow 14-12 win over the Glasgow Warriors, who had Josh Strauss at No 8. The Warriors are second on the log with one round to play before the knock-out stage of the tournament.
– Racing 92, who had nothing to play for but pride following their premature elimination in December, downed the Leicester Tigers 34-3 to secure their first win of the campaign. Locks Gerbrant Grobler, who scored a try, and Francois van der Merwe and flank Antonie Claassen started for the winners. Prop Pat Cilliers was on the bench for Leicester, who was knocked out of the competition.
– Connacht seized control of this pool with a 66-21 demolition of Zebre in Galway. Utility back Danie Poolman was named in the hosts' match 23. Wing Lloyd Greeeff, scrumhalf Carlo Engelbrecht, flanks Johan Meyer and Derick Minnie, and lock Gideon Koegelenberg represented the out of sorts Zebre, who have yet to win a European game this season.
– A last-gasp try saw Wasps beat Toulouse 17-14 in a thrilling encounter at the Ricoh Arena, despite the hosts conceding two yellow cards. Hooker Ashley Johnson delivered a superb 80-minute shift for the winners, who are second in their pool.
– Reigning champions Saracens, who were already assured of place in the knock-out phase of the competition, fired late to snatch a 22-22 draw with the Scarlets. Schalk Burger, Michael Rhodes, Vincent Koch and Schalk Brits turned out for Sarries; while ex-Bulls prop Werner Kruger was on duty for the Scarlets.
– Toulon kept alive their play-off aspirations with a 27-12 bonus-point victory against the Sale Sharks in Mayol. The hosts scored two tries in the last two minutes to come away with maximum log points. Earlier Bryan Habana scored a try in the 59th minute. The veteran winger featured alongside fellow Boks Duane Vermeulen (captain), Juan Smith, and Marcel van der Merwe for the former champions.
– Montpellier were eliminated after a humiliating 57-3 lashing at the hands on Leinster at RDS Arena. In what proved to be a crucial moment, flyhalf Frans Steyn was red carded in the 27th minute for a dangerous tackle on his opposite number Johnny Sexton. Steyn, Pierre Spies, Paul Willemse, Jannie du Plessis and replacement fullback Henry Immelman did service for Montpellier. Richardt Strauss was the back-up hooker for Leinster, who progressed to the next phase of the tournament.
– Nic Groom and his Northampton Saints teammates withstood a second half surge from Castres to secure a 28-21 triumph at Franklin's Gardens. Castres captain Rory Kockott led his charges well, scoring a try and nailing three penalties. Centre Robert Ebersohn, hooker Jody Jenneker and prop Dan Kötze also represented Castres. The result was insignificant though, as both teams crashed out of the competition.
– Clermont advanced to the last eight with a hard-fought 9-6 win over French rivals Bordeaux. Prop Steven Kitshoff and lock Berend Botha were substitutes for Bordeaux, as were Flip van der Merwe and Scott Spedding for Clermont.
– Fullback Louis Ludik and lock Franco van der Merwe were in the Ulster team that slumped to a 31-19 loss against the Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park. Flank Don Armand started for the Chiefs.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
– Gloucester advanced to the quarter-finals on the back of a 41-0 bonus-point win over flank Braam Steyn's Treviso, who had been eliminated before the game commenced.
– La Rochelle stayed in the hunt for a play-off spot with a comfortable 24-14 win in their all-French affair against Bayonne, who had Willie du Plessis on the bench. Outside centre Paul Jordaan and scrumhalf Ricky Januarie played for the winners, with the latter clinching the Man of the Match award.
– Wing Hanno Dirksen scored one of seven tries as Ospreys thumped Lyon 47-7 at the Liberty Stadium to book their spot in the last eight. Lyon, captained by Deon Fourie and also featuring BJ Botha and Albertus Buckle, are out of contention for a play-off berth.
– Grenoble, with prop Rossouw de Klerk in their ranks, defeated the Newcastle Falcons 31-27 to clinch their first win of the campaign. Former Sharks duo Mouritz Botha and Kyle Cooper were on duty for Newcastle.
– Brive beat the Worcester Warriors 17-14 to consolidate their place at the top of the pool standings. Locks Johan Snyman and Jan Uys, prop Kevin Buys, and replacement second rower Wilhelm Steenkamp turned out for the winners. Winger Dean Hammond was in Worcester's starting lineup.
– Fullback Carl Meyer, scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, lock Ligtoring Landman and prop Brok Harris all started for the Newport Gwent Dragons in their 34-10 bonus-point triumph against Russian minnows Enisei-STM at Rodney Parade. With one round of round-robin games to be played, the Dragons are still in with a shout overtake Brive and top the pool standings.
– Captain Francois Louw led Bath to a 57-22 win over bitter rivals Bristol at Ashton Gate Stadium. The result keeps Bath at the top of the pool log, one point clear of the Cardiff Blues.
– Edinburgh emerged 23-18 winners in their crunch pool-deciding match against Harlequins at the Stoop. Flyhalf Tim Swiel slotted two Quins penalties. Eighthman Cornell du Preez and props WP Nel and Allan Dell played the winners, with Dell barging over for try in the 53rd minute. Edinburgh are now top in the pool standings on 19 points and Harlequins are second with 18 points.
Photo: Franck Pennant/AFP