SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches, which involved South African players.
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP
– Ulster, featuring Louis Ludik, Ruan Pienaar, Robbie Diack, Franco van der Merwe and Wiehahn Herbst in their starting XV, humbled four-time champions Toulouse 38-0 at Ravenhill. The winners, who also had Rob Herring on the bench, dominated proceedings and scored five tries in the lop-sided contest. The victory sees Ulster replace Toulouse in second position in the pool, despite the former having a game in hand.
– Saracens maintained their perfect start to the season in all competitions with a 45-10 demolition of Oyonnax at the Stade Charles Mathon. Sarries outscored their hosts five tries to one to consolidate their spot at the summit of Pool 1. Brad Barritt captained the winning side which included Michael Rhodes in the run-on XV. Front-rowers Schalk Brits and Petrus du Plessis and scrumhalf Neil de Kock were impact players, with Brits burrowing over for the final score. Former Bok Pedrie Wannenburg was at the back of the scrum for Oyonnax, still winless to date.
– The Exeter Chiefs claimed a morale-boosting come-from-behind 31-14 win over Clermont at Sandy Park. The French team, with Scott Spedding, Marthinus van der Westhuizen, Dan Kotzé and Flip van der Merwe in their ranks, raced out to a 14-3 lead early on, but the Chiefs clawed their way back with three well-worked tries. Flank Don Armand scored the Chiefs' third try. Clermont have slipped to third in Pool 2, while Exeter are top of the table.
– Bordeaux were narrowly beaten 19-16 by wing Hanno Dirksen's Ospreys. Scrumhalf Heini Adams and lock Berend Botha played for Bordeaux, who have now lost both their Champions Cup matches to date. The Ospreys are second and Bordeaux fourth on the pool table.
– Racing defeated the Northampton Saints 33-3 in Paris to secure a bonus-point win which takes them to the summit of Pool 3. Lock Francois van der Merwe started for Racing and was joined by Johan Goosen in the second half. The flyhalf made a big impact, setting up his team's fifth try before nailing the conversion. Loose forward Antonie Claassen warmed the winners' bench. Former Bok lock Victor Matfield did duty for the Saints and had one of his passes intercepted which led to a Racing try.
– Josh Strauss was in the Glasgow Warriors team that trounced the Scarlets 43-6 at home. The Warriors subdued their visitors from the get-go, while running in six tries to claim maximum log points. The winners, though, are still behind Racing and Northampton in the standings, with the Scarlets at the bottom.
– Munster slumped to yet another defeat at Thomond Park, this time going down 31-19 to the Leicester Tigers. Munster, under the leadership of CJ Stander, scored two tries but conceded three as Leicester racked up their third straight win. Prop BJ Botha started alongside Stander for the hosts, who are third in Pool 4.
– Stade Français put aside their struggles in the Top 14 to hammer Treviso for a much-needed 50-19 bonus-point win. Centre Meyer Bosman, flank Willem Alberts and prop Heinke van der Merwe turned out for Stade. Bosman scored one of seven tries, while Alberts was injured. On Monday, French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique reported that Alberts has been ruled out for weeks after rupturing a bicep muscle.
– Toulon reignited their title defence with a scrappy 24-9 defeat of Leinster. Bok trio Bryan Habana, Duane Vermeulen and Juan Smith were some of the headline acts in the star-studded Toulon team, while hooker Richardt Strauss did service for Leinster, who became the first team to be eliminated from the competition.
– Francois Louw and his Bath teammates clinched a dramatic last-gasp 25-23 win over Ashley Johnson's Wasps. With the score on 23-18 in favour of Wasps during the closing stages, the hosts looked to have done enough to secure the win. But two yellow cards followed and Bath scored in injury time to draw level, before the touchline conversion sailed over the crossbar, causing heartbreak for Wasps. Defeat notwithstanding, Wasps are still top of Pool 5, followed by Bath, Toulon and Leinster.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
– Wing Danie Poolman crossed for the only try of the contest as Connacht edged the Newcastle Falcons 25-10 to cement their place at the top of Pool 1. Lock Mouritz Botha started for the second-placed Falcons.
– Wilhelm Steenkamp and Kevin Buys formed part of the Brive team, who limped to a shocking 10-7 defeat at the hands of Russian side Enisei-STM. Newcomers to the competition, Enisei led 10-0 at half-time, before expertly withstanding Brive's second-half onslaught to secure their first win in a European tournament.
– The Newport Gwent Dragons blanked out Pau 22-0 at Rodney Parade. Sarel Pretorius put in a Man of the Match performance for the Dragons, which the former Cheetahs scrumhalf rounded off with a 60m sprint for a try. Fullback Carl Meyer, lock Ligtoring Landman and prop Brok Harris all featured alongside Pretorius.
– The Sale Sharks beat a second-string Castres side 17-10 at the Stade Pierre Antoine. Prop Brian Mujati was included in Sale's run-on team. Castres have been replaced in second spot in this pool by the Sharks.
– Harlequins made it three from three with a 50-10 bonus-point win against Calvisano. The Italian minnows had wing Ben de Jager and hooker Luhandré Luus in their ranks, but they were no match for the eight-try Quins on the day. Tim Swiel played fullback for the winners, who lead the way in Pool 3.
– Montpellier, with front-rowers Bismarck du Plessis and Pat Cilliers, locks Jacques du Plessis and Paul Willemse, flank Wiaan Liebenberg and centre Robert Ebersohn in their starting XV, suffered a 37-27 defeat against the Cardiff Blues. None of the six players got on the scoresheet, but Bok hooker Du Plessis was sent off for repeated ruck infringements. Montpellier's replacement flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis came on in the second half and kicked a conversion, but his introduction was too late. The Blues moved up to second and Montpellier slipped to third in the standings.
– La Rochelle ground out a 27-19 home win over Zebre. Ex-Bok scrumhalf Ricky Januarie came on as a substitute for the winners, while the Italians had wing Kayle van Zyl and flank Johan Meyer in their ranks. The sides are second and third on the log, respectively.
– London Irish recorded an emphatic 38-6 bonus-point triumph over the shell-shocked Edinburgh. Centre Andries Strauss, eighthman Cornell du Preez and lock Anton Bresler represented Edinburgh, who sunk to third on the Pool 5 log. Irish have risen to first position.
– Grenoble thumped hosts Agen 40-20 at the Stade Armandie. Having predominantly featured off the bench, prop Rossouw de Klerk was promoted to the winners' starting XV. They are ranked second behind Irish and with three defeats in as many games, Agen remain log bottom.
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