Saffas Abroad: Vermeulen, Rhodes star

Jacques Vermeulen and Michael Rhodes put in standout performances as the Exeter Chiefs and Saracens picked up wins in round 15 of the English Premiership this past weekend.

– The Exeter Chiefs continued to set the pace at the top of the table by producing a strong second-half showing to beat the Sale Sharks 32-22 after trailing 14-10 at the break. Jacques Vermeulen returned to the Chiefs starting lineup after sitting out the previous round’s action and scored a try, while making eight carries, six tackles and winning a lineout. Jannes Kirsten came off the bench for the Chiefs in the final 10 minutes. The Sale Sharks were as usual stacked with South Africans as Faf de Klerk and Robert du Preez formed the halfback combination, with Dan du Preez and captain Jono Ross in the loose trio, Jean-Luc du Preez and Lood de Jager in the second row and Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen in the front row. Robert du Preez scored a try and kicked two conversions and a penalty for a personal haul of 12 points.

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– The Bristol Bears moved into second place on the Premiership table with a convincing 33-14 victory over Gloucester. Bristol were boosted by an incredible performance from Fijian centre Semi Radradra, who scored a try and made a massive 146 metres from 16 carries, beating four defenders and assisting two tries. Gloucester had Ruan Ackermann at blindside flank, who played 53 minutes, making one turnover, seven carries and six tackles. Hooker Franco van der Merwe came off the bench for Gloucester, playing 27 minutes and making 16m from six carries and five tackles.

– Wasps continued their winning run under new head coach Lee Blackett with their fifth victory in a row after scoring 19 unanswered points to beat the Worcester Warriors 32-17. The Warriors had Gerrit-Jan van Velze at blindside flank and Cornell du Preez at No 8 as well as Francois Venter at outside centre and Richard Palframan at tighthead prop.

– Saracens dealt Harlequins’ top-four hopes a blow by claiming a 38-24 win in their London derby at Allianz Park. Michael Rhodes started at blindside flank for Saracens and made 22m from three carries, completing 15 of his 18 attempted tackles, making one clean break and poaching a lineout. Saracens also had Vincent Koch at tighthead prop and the Springbok was impressive with 14 tackles and three carries. Harlequins had Simon Kerrod at tighthead prop and Stephan Lewies at lock.

– The Northampton Saints closed in on a top-four place by comfortably beating London Irish 27-3 after going into half time level at 3-3. Former Vodacom Bulls loose forward Shaun Adendorff made his debut for Northampton, who had Francois van Wyk at loosehead prop. London Irish, who are in ninth place, had Allan Dell at loosehead prop and Sebastian de Chaves at lock.

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Photo: Getty Images

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