After a weekend of thrilling European cup playoff action in the Republic, the DHL Stormers, Sharks and Lions are sailing to foreign shores for tough missions.
All three teams were full value for their victories in the round of 16 of the northern hemisphere’s premier knockout competitions, where five South African sides competed with the best clubs from England, France and Ireland.
On Saturday, the Sharks made history when Neil Powell’s charges became the first SA team to book a place in the last eight of the Champions Cup with a thrilling 50-35 triumph over Munster in Durban.
And later, the Stormers held out a determined Harlequins outfit to score five tries to four for a 32-28 victory at Cape Town Stadium and in the process booked their place in the quarter-finals.
In the Challenge Cup, the Lions – playing with only 14 men for more than an hour – delivered a superb performance to beat Racing 92 by 51-28 in Johannesburg.
But, the Cheetahs were knocked out of the competition by French giants Toulon with a 36-21 defeat at the Stade Mayol in the south of France, before the Vodacom Bulls lost 33-9 in Toulouse to the five-time Champions Cup winners on Sunday that also ended the South African teams’ success in the tournament for the weekend.
In other results, Leicester Tigers saw off Edinburgh 16-6, Leinster claimed bragging rights in an all-Irish affair against Ulster (30-15), La Rochelle got the better of Gloucester (29-26), Saracens twice came from behind to beat Ospreys 35-20, while Jack Yeandle crossed in the final play of extra time to send Exeter Chiefs through on tries scored as they drew 33-33 with 14-man Montpellier.
Meanwhile, Challenge Cup holders Lyon fought back twice to win 41-24 at Stade Francais, Scarlets overcame Brive 19-7, Bristol Bears fell to a 26-33 reverse at the hands of Clermont Auvergne, Benetton saw off the challenge of Connacht (41-19), Cardiff edged Sale Sharks (28-27), as five tries from Johnny Matthews steered a rampant Glasgow Warriors past Dragons 73-33.
Looking ahead to the quarter-finals on Saturday, the Sharks and Stormers travel to face Toulouse (4pm) and Exeter (6:30pm), respectively, before the Lions lock horns with Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium (9pm).