SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's European Champions Cup, European Challenge Cup, English Premiership and Celtic Pro12 matches, involving South African players.
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP
– Ulster pulled off one of the great comebacks when they overturned a 23-0 half-time deficit to beat Oyonnax 24-23 in France. Ulster had lock Francois van der Merwe, flank Robbie Diack, hooker Rob Herring, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and fullback Louis Ludik in their ranks. Former Bok Pedrie Wannenburg started at the back of the scrum for Oyonnax. The result keeps Ulster in the hunt to progress out of the pool stage as runners-up behind Saracens who have all but secured top spot.
– Clermont, featuring prop Dan Kotzé, won their French derby against hosts Bordeaux 28-10. Scrumhalf Heini Adams and lock Berend Botha were named in Bordeaux’s starting lineup. The victory takes Clermont top, while Bordeaux languish at the bottom.
– Racing remained unbeaten with a 34-10 bonus-point win over the Glasgow Warriors in Paris to consolidate their position at the log summit. Johan Goosen played fullback for the winners and initiated the counter-attack that led to their opening try. He also converted Racing’s fourth try in the 81st minute. Loose forwards Bernard le Roux and Antonie Claassen completed the winners’ bench.
– Stade Français brushed Munster aside to win 27-10, despite playing with 14 men for the whole second half. Flyhalf Morné Steyn contributed 12 points to Stade’s tally (three conversions, two penalties), and was later joined by reserves Heinke van der Merwe, Gerhard Mostert and Jono Ross. Munster, who’ve only won a single game in the pool stage, had BJ Botha and CJ Stander in their run-on XV.
– Toulon claimed a hard-fought 12-9 home win against a spirited Bath. Springbok trio Duane Vermeulen, Juan Smith and Bryan Habana turned out for the reigning champions, who leaded for the first time in the 75th minute. Another Bok, Francois Louw, started and played magnificently for Bath, who were overtaken by their conquerors in second place on the table.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
– Castres defeated Pau 30-21 to keep alive their marginal chance of advancing to the quarter-finals, as they trail the Sale Sharks by two log points with two rounds remaining. Lock Claude Dry represented Pau, who are yet to register a victory.
– Harlequins halted Saracens’ charge with a memorable 29-23 win at the Stoop. Despite the ill discipline of both sides, which led to two yellow cards and a red, the match had an exciting edge from start to finish. Scrumhalf Neil de Kock and prop Petrus du Plessis was on duty for Sarries, with the former scoring the opening try in the ninth minute. The outcome, though, wasn’t enough to influence the log position of either team as Saracens stay still top and Quins third.
– Flank Don Armand and his Exeter Chiefs teammates eased to a 19-10 triumph over Gloucester, their 14th successive win at home in all competitions. The Chiefs are ranked second behind Saracens in the Premiership, while Gloucester dropped to seventh.
– The Leicester Tigers held their nerve to clinch a nail-biting 30-27 win against the Northampton Saints at Welford Road. Lock Victor Matfield did service for the Saints, who fought back from 21-0 down to level the scores at 27-27, before conceding a match-defining penalty in the final minute. No 4 Sebastian de Chaves played for the Tigers, who escaped with the win.
– The lowly Newcastle Falcons, who named lock Mouritz Botha as a substitute, suffered a narrow 20-15 defeat at the hands of the equally struggling London Irish. With the win, the Exiles moved off the foot of the standings to 11th, while the Falcons slipped to 12th.
– Wasps beat the Worcester Warriors 32-22 in a thrilling contest at the Ricoh Arena. The hosts were 13-0 down at half-time, but showed great resilience to come back in front of their home supporters. Outside centre Wynand Olivier and tighthead prop Nic Schonert were included in the Warriors lineup and hooker Ashley Johnson impacted off the bench for Wasps.
– Connacht looked on course to snap a three-match losing streak before the Scarlets knocked over a last-gasp penalty to win 21-19. Wing DTH van der Merwe played for the Scarlets, who moved past Leinster to the top of the standings.
– Hooker Richardt Strauss’s Leinster hammered wing Hanno Dirksen’s Ospreys 22-9 at the Liberty Stadium. The hosts failed to score a try, while the winners managed to cross for three scores. Leinster are second on the log, but have a game in hand.
– Edinburgh, with prop WP Nel, lock Anton Bresler, No 8 Cornell du Preez and centre Andries Strauss in their lineup, breezed past Treviso 28-13 at Murrayfield. Sitting on a 22-match losing streak in all competitions, Treviso sacked their coach midweek and replaced him with former fullback Marius Goosen, who also played for the Bulls, Stormers and the Emerging Springboks. But the shuffle in management didn’t prevent the Italian side from slumping to a 23rd straight loss.
Compiled by Mariette Adams
Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images