SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's English Premiership, Celtic Pro12, French Top 14 and Japanese Top League matches, which involved South African players.
– Despite conceding a try in the first minute, London Wasps fought back to clinch a thrilling 30-23 victory against Gloucester. Former Bok and Cheetahs loose forward Ashley Johnson started on the side of the scrum for Wasps, who recorded their first away win this season, and was replaced in the 65th minute.
– The Northampton Saints battled past Harlequins 30-25 in front of a capacity crowd at Twickenham to retain their place at the top of the Premiership table. After his charged-down kick led to a Saints try, Quins flyhalf Tim Swiel redeemed himself to keep the Londoners in the match. He slotted two conversions and two penalties before making a decisive break to set up another five-pointer for the visitors. But it was all in vain as Saints threw caution to the wind to close out the match.
– Ex-Bok scrumhalf Neil de Kock was on hand to finish a brilliant Saracens team effort in their narrow 25-23 win over the Newcastle Falcons. Lock Alistair Hargreaves and eighthman Ernst Joubert started alongside De Kock, while prop Petrus de Plessis moved off the bench in the 50th minute to play in only his fifth league game of the season.
– Lock Sebastian de Chaves and his Leicester Tigers teammates ended the Sale Sharks’ four-match winning streak in the league with a last-gasp 32-30 win in Eccles. A try two minutes from time tied the scores at 30 apiece, but the Tigers replacement flyhalf held his nerve to bisect the uprights with his conversion attempt.
– Francois Louw’s Bath claimed a fifth successive victory after they beat Don Armand’s Exeter Chiefs 31-14. Both ex-Stormer flankers made the run-on XVs, but Louw made a bigger impact on the game. He latched onto a loose ball by the Chiefs and recycled quickly enough for Bath to score against the run of play. The result keeps Bath in second spot with a point behind Saints.
– London Irish easily defeated the lowly London Welsh 24-9 to secure their first home victory of the season. Welsh's reserve No 8 Ben Pienaar came on in the 66th minute of the derby, but could do little to change the outcome of the match.
– Man of the Match Ligtoring Landman earned the Newport Gwent Dragons a hard-fought 23-17 win over the Cardiff Blues. Former WP and Stormers prop Brok Harris joined the towering lock for the Dragons and excelled in the scrums against the host’s determined front row.
– In another excellent performance, flank CJ Stander scored a try to help Munster overcome Leinster 28-13. Outside centre Pat Howard started for the victors, while Stander’s ex-Bulls teammate Zane Kirchner and hooker Richardt Strauss turned out for Leinster. Prop BJ Botha was on duty for Munster from the 59th minute and Maks van Dyk was an unused Leinster reserve.
– In a tedious affair at Kingspan Stadium, Ulster beat Connacht 13-10 to extend their unbeaten league record at the venue this season. Fullback Louis Ludik, flank Robbie Diack, lock Franco van der Merwe, prop Wiehahn Herbst and hooker Rob Herring, who was named Man of the Match, all did service for Ulster. Wing Danie Poolman and lock Quinn Roux represented Connacht.
– No 8 Josh Strauss scored one of two tries as the Glasgow Warriors prevailed 16-6 against Edinburgh. Joining Strauss among the playing personnel were wing DTH van der Merwe and loose forward Tyrone Holmes. Inside centre Andries Strauss and lock Anton Bresler earned starting berths for Edinburgh, while prop WP Nel played a 20-minute cameo off the bench.
– The Neath-Swansea Ospreys struggled past the Llanelli Scarlets 17-15. Wing Hanno Dirksen made the starting XV of the victorious hosts who led 17-9 at the break. The Scarlets, with lock George Earle in their ranks, managed to keep the Ospreys scoreless in the second stanza as they mounted a fierce comeback but fell agonisingly short of the target. Lock Rynier Bernardo played all but three minutes for the Ospreys.
– Treviso stunned Italian rivals Zebre 26-16 to claim their first victory in all competitions this season. Lock Corniel van Zyl and flank Meyer Swanepoel represented Treviso, while fullback Hennie Daniller, lock Quintin Geldenhuys and flank Andries van Schalkwyk were in action for the opposition. Van Schalkwyk was yellow-carded in the 50th minute.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Stade Français made an emphatic statement when they defeated champions Toulon 30-6 in Paris. Lock Bakkies Botha, flank Gerhard Vosloo and scrumhalf Michael Claassens all started in their regular positions for Toulon, but Bryan Habana had to play at inside centre. Vosloo was injured a minute before the interval and Juan Smith stepped up as his replacement. Loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe and Bok flyhalf Morné Steyn made appearances for a rampant Stade from the 31st and 72nd minutes respectively.
– Lyon, with scrumhalf Ricky Januarie and lock Coenie Basson, upset Clermont 16-13. The hosts erased a 10-point deficit in the second half to claim a deserved victory at the Matmut Stadium in Venissieux.
– Rory Kockott's match haul of 17 points handed Castres a morale-boosting 27-9 victory against Montpellier. The scrumhalf kicked five penalties and a conversion for the team rooted to the bottom of the log, which brought on flank Jannie Bornman for the final five minutes. Centre Wynand Olivier and prop Pat Cilliers played for Montpellier.
– Oyonnax edged their relegation battle with Bayonne 12-9 in subzero weather conditions at the Stade Charles Mathon stadium. Hooker Jody Jenneker and loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg wore the red jerseys of Oyonnax, while props JC Janse van Rensburg and Gert Muller and fullback Scott Spedding donned the sky blue of Bayonne.
– Peter Grant’s La Rochelle edged Grenoble 19-15. Locks Ross Skeate and Hendrik Roodt and fullback Gio Aplon retained their places in Grenoble’s run-on side, while scrumhalf Charl McLeod, lock Paul Willemse and prop Albertus Buckle completed the match-day squad.
– Bordeaux ran in seven tries to humble Brive 46-10 at the Stade Chaban Delmas. Locks Berend Botha and Jandré Marais started in tandem for the victors, while the latter’s brother Peet Marais played in the same position for Brive. Flank Paul Hauman and wing Riaan Swanepoel also turned out for Brive.
– Prop Gurthrö Steenkamp and his Toulouse teammates toppled in-form Racing Métro 15-9 in a tightly contested match at the Ernst Wallon stadium. Prop Brian Mujati, lock Juandré Kruger and flank Bernard le Roux were on duty for Racing with Le Roux yellow-carded on the stroke of half-time.
JAPANESE TOP LEAGUE
– Boks Andries Bekker and Jaque Fourie starred in the Kobe Kobelco Steelers' 54-19 thrashing of the NTT Communications Shining Arcs. Bekker scored a brace of tries, while replacement flyhalf Elton Jantjies kicked two conversions for the Shining Arcs.
– Former Sharks flank Jean Deysel's Toyota Verblitz suffered a 26-10 defeat at the hands of the Yamaha Jubilo. Deysel started the match and was substituted in the 70th minute.
– The NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, with flank Heinrich Brüssow, flyhalf Riaan Viljoen and centre Johann Sadie in their ranks, were hammered 40-14 by their hosts the NEC Green Rockets.
– Keegan Daniel, who came on in the 34th minute, and his Kubota Spears teammates went down 28-26 to the Ricoh Black Rams in a thrilling match.
– Waratahs hero Jacques Potgieter scored a touchdown in a losing cause, as the Kintetsu Liners ousted his Munakaua Sanix Blues 43-32 in an entertaining game.
– The Coca-Cola Red Sparks cruised past the Toyota Shuttles 39-17. Sharks No 8 Ryan Kankowski was on duty for the Shuttles until the 64th minute.
– Utility back Frans Steyn came off the wood in the 62nd minute and added a conversion for the Toshiba Brave Lupus who eased past the Canon Eagles 31-10.
– Bok wing JP Pietersen scored a hat-trick to rock the Suntory Sungoliath, as the Panasonic Wild Knights ran out 45-8 victors. Pietersen's national teammate Schalk Burger turned out for Suntory and was replaced by former Sharks flank Justin Downey in the 54th minute.