Wright strikes on Montpellier debut

SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's French Top 14 matches, which involved South African players.

–  Former Bok flank Juan Smith​ captained Toulon in their opening round 27-22 defeat to Racing at the Stade Mayol on Friday. Lock Francois van der Merwe, No 8 Antonie Claassen and flyhalf Johan Goosen turned out for Racing and were joined by Juandré Kruger in the 65th minute. Cheetahs flyhalf Willie du Plessis, who is on a three-month loan at Toulon as a 'medical joker', opened his account for the European champions with a last-minute penalty. Eighthman Gerhard Vosloo had a six-minute cameo for Toulon.

– Tighthead prop Dan Kotzé was in Clermont's match 23 during their 44-6 away victory over La Rochelle at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre. Ex-Bok scrumhalf Ricky Januarie played for La Rochelle from start to finish.

– Agen flyhalf Burton Francis scored 13 points (three penalties and two conversions) but it wasn't enough as they lost 38-23 to Grenoble, who had fullback Gio Aplon and scrumhalf Charl McLeod in their ranks.

– Toulouse claimed a 24-7 win over Brive in a match that produced two yellow cards and a penalty try. Prop Gurthrö Steenkamp was given a starting role for the winners, while lock Peet Marais and flank Paul Hauman were in Brive's run-on XV.

– Lock Jandré Marais and his Bordeaux-Begles teammates withstood a late onslaught to overcome a spirited Castres unit 19-16. He was joined in the second row by compatriot Berend Botha for the final 30 minutes of the game.

– Montpellier made an impressive start to the new campaign, scoring five tries to beat Oyonnax 35-19. The winners had an all-South African front row, as props Bees Roux and Schalk van der Merwe scrummed down either side of Craig Burden, while Paul Willemse played lock and Wiaan Liebenberg blindside flanker. But it was former Sharks scrumhalf Cameron Wright, who came off the bench early in the first half to score in his Top 14 debut for the club. In the 50th minute, coach Jake White replaced Roux with Pat Cilliers. Loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg and hooker Jody Jenneker completed the Oyonnax bench.

– Champions Stade Français, with lock Gerhard Mostert and No 8 Jono Ross in the team, cruised past newcomers Pau 34-18. Former Sharks lock Claude Dry represented Pau. Centre Meyer Bosman appeared for Stade early in the second half.

Compiled by Mariette Adams

Photo: Max Berullier/Montpellier

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Mariette Adams