SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's European Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup matches, which involved South African players.
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP
– Saracens outclassed Munster 33-10 to end their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals. Lock Alistair Hargreaves led Sarries, while prop Petrus du Plessis completed the front row. Outside centre Pat Howard, No 8 CJ Stander and prop BJ Botha started for Munster, but the Irish side was dealt a massive blow in the 27th minute, when Stander had to leave the field with an injury. Scrumhalf Neil de Kock and flank Ernst Joubert came off Sarries' bench in the 64th and 66th minutes respectively. In the final round of the pool stage this weekend, Saracens will square off against Clermont, who ousted Sale Sharks 22-13, to decide who will top this pool and automatically qualify for the quarter-finals.
– Leinster crushed Castres 50-8 to move to the top of their pool, two points clear of Wasps. Scrumhalf Rory Kockott and flank Jannie Bornman represented the French side, with the former slotting a penalty. Richardt Strauss played in the final 30 minutes for the winners. With both Munster and Ulster crashing out of the competition, Leinster are the only Irish side with a chance of claiming the title.
– Ashley Johnson's Wasps claimed an impressive 23-3 away win against London Harlequins. The result moved Wasps three points clear of Quins into second on the log, but both sides can still qualify for the knockout stage.
– Toulon booked their place in the next round of the competition with a resounding 60-22 victory over Ulster. Boks Bryan Habana and Juan Smith earned starting berths for the current champions, with the former scoring Toulon's second try. Three former Sharks in Louis Ludik, Ruan Pienaar and Franco van der Merwe along with prop Rob Herring turned out for Ulster, who managed to score four tries but still fell well short. Pienaar was successful with one of his two conversion attempts. Reserve flank Robbie Diack came on in the 51st minute for Ulster, who occupy fourth place in this pool.
– The Leicester Tigers romped to a 40-23 bonus-point triumph against the Llanelli Scarlets at Welford Road, keeping alive their quarter-final hopes. Lock George Earle was recalled to the Scarlets' run-on XV, while prop Jacobie Adriaanse completed their match-day squad. Leicester are five points adrift of leaders Toulon, and five clear of the Scarlets.
– Bok flank Francois Louw scored the bonus-point try as Bath thrashed hosts Toulouse 35-18. Prop Gurthrö Steenkamp scrummed down for Toulouse and compatriot Jano Vermaak entered the fray in the 64th minute. Despite the result, Toulouse are top of Pool 4 on 16 points, with Bath one point behind.
– Wing DTH van der Merwe's hat-trick sealed a 21-10 victory in favour of the Glasgow Warriors against Montpellier, but they couldn't score the vital fourth try they needed to pip Bath into second on the table. Van der Merwe played alongside captain Josh Strauss for the Scottish club, while Montpellier's Jake White opted for Robert Ebersohn and Wynand Olivier in midfield and prop Pat Cilliers up front. Montpellier, with just two log points after five defeats, are the only side in this pool that cannot reach the next round. The three remaining teams are separated be a mere two points heading into the final round of the pool stage.
– Racing Métro, with eighthman Antonie Claassen, flank Bernard le Roux, lock Francois van der Merwe and prop Brian Mujati in their ranks, swept Benetton Treviso aside 53-7 in Italy. Flank Meyer Swanepoel did service for Treviso, while lock Juandré Kruger warmed Racing's bench.
– The Northampton Saints recorded a hard-fought 20-9 victory over the Neath-Swansea Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium. Lock Rynier Bernardo and fullback Hanno Dirksen were on duty for the Ospreys. Level on points, the second-placed Saints will clash with Racing next week to decide which team will finish top in this pool.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
– Ross Skeate and his Grenoble teammates lost 43-41 to London Irish in a dramatic finish at the Madejski Stadium. Two late tries from the 14-man Exiles cost Grenoble the match and their place in the next round of the Challenge Cup.
– The Cardiff Blues ran in 16 tries to annihilate Rovigo 104-12 at the Arms Park. Fullback Stefan Basson and inside centre Joe van Niekerk represented the lowly Rovigo. The Blues are level on points with London Irish, but top the pool because of a greater points difference.
– The Exeter Chiefs booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 33-24 victory against Connacht in Galway. Flank Don Armand grabbed one of three Exeter tries, while wing Danie Poolman scored the hosts' fourth try to earn them a losing bonus point. Lock Quinn Roux did duty for Connacht.
– Prop JC Janse van Rensburg started for Bayonne, who blanked out La Rochelle 14-0. With nothing to play for beside pride in this French derby, both sides fielded weakened teams. Lock Cobus Grobler and hooker Rassie van Vuuren featured for La Rochelle.
– Former Bulls No 8 Jono Ross scored a brace as Stade Français ousted Bucharest Wolves 47-12. Ross and centre Meyer Bosman were listed in Stade's run-on team, with Bok flyhalf Morné Steyn named on the bench. Flank Johan van Heerden played for the Wolves, who remain winless.
– Ligtoring Landman led the Newport Gwent Dragons to an impressive 40-29 win away to the Newcastle Falcons. Landman, who touched down for his side's sixth try, played alongside prop Brok Harris for the Dragons, who lead the pool by five points ahead of the Falcons.
– A late drop goal saw Lyon, with Ricky Januarie and Frans Viljoen in their team, stun Edinburgh 21-19. The losing bonus point, however, propelled Edinburgh to the top of the group ahead of Bordeaux.
– London Welsh's woes continued with a 26-3 defeat at the hands of Bordeaux. Ben Pienaar started at the back of the scrum for Welsh, who are still searching for an elusive first victory in all competitions this season. Ex-Bulls scrumhalf Heini Adams played for Bordeaux, who next face Edinburgh in a winner-takes-all clash.
– Gloucester eased past Oyonnax 33-3 to secure their place in the last eight. Riaan Smit and Pedrie Wannenburg played for Oyonnax but had little impact on the game. Gloucester comfortably lead Pool 5 on 24 points, with Oyonnax a distant second on 12.
– Dries van Schalkwyk and Quintin Geldenhuys starred for Zebre, who did the double over French outfit Brive. Prop Johannes Coetzee was listed as a Brive substitute.
Compiled by Mariette Adams
Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho/IrishTimes.com