SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s English Premiership, Celtic Pro12 and French Top 14 matches, involving South African players.
– The Northampton Saints, with scrumhalf Nic Groom in their starting lineup, fought back from 13-0 down to edge the Exeter Chiefs 20-19 in a pulsating clash at Franklin's Gardens. The result, however, was still not good enough to take Saints (seventh) above the sixth-placed Exeter in the standings.
– Schalk Burger started for the Saracens side that hammered Bristol 39-0 at Ashton Gate. Captain Brad Barritt and prop Petrus du Plessis featured alongside Burger, while flank Michael Rhodes was used from the bench in the second half. Sarries are still in second on the log.
– Ashley Johnson earned a rare start for Wasps and the hooker made it count with a try in their 47-18 bonus-point victory over Harlequins. Flyhalf Tim Swiel was handed another starting berth and kicked a conversion and two penalties for Quins. The result keeps the unbeaten Wasps at the top of the table.
– Outside centre Wynand Olivier scored the only try of the match to guide the Worcester Warriors to a narrow 11-9 win against the Newcastle Falcons. Prop Nick Schonert played with Olivier for the Warriors.
– The Scarlets beat hosts Treviso 22-6 to make it back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Wing DTH van der Merwe and lock David Bulbring started for the visitors, but it was Van der Merwe and replacement prop Werner Kruger, who both crossed over to score. Lock Rynier Bernardo was also on Scarlets' bench. No 8 Braam Steyn did duty for Treviso, who are now 11th on the log.
– Leinster ended the Cardiff Blues' four-game winning streak with a nervy 16-13 triumph away at Arms Park. Lock George Earle featured for the Blues, while Zane Kirchner turned out for Leinster.
– Ulster, with Louis Ludik (wing), Ruan Pienaar (scrumhalf), Robbie Diack (flank) and Franco van der Merwe (lock) in their ranks, edged the Ospreys 9-7 at Kingspan Stadium, to make it five straight wins this season. Ulster are two points clear at the top of the standings.
– Ex-Stormers utility back Jaco Taute made his debut for Munster in their crushing 49-5 bonus-point win over bottom-feeders Zebre at Thomond Park. Taute started alongside No 8 CJ Stander, who scored a brace of tries. Flank Johan Meyer and locks Gideon Koegelenberg and Quintin Geldenhuys were in the Zebre run-on XV, with flank Derick Minnie, scrumhalf Carlo Engelbrecht and wing Lloyd Greeff all on the bench.
– The Newport Gwent Dragons, featuring fullback Carl Meyer, scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, lock Ligtoring Landman and prop Brok Harris, slumped to a 26-17 defeat at home against the Glasgow Warriors. Former Lions eighthman Josh Strauss was at the back of the scrum for the winners.
– Defending champions Connacht finally secured their first victory of the new season when they toppled Edinburgh 28-15 at The Sportsground. Lock Quinn Roux scored one of four tries for the winners. No 8 Cornell du Preez and prop WP Nel started for Edinburgh.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Toulon, boosted by the return to action of captain Duane Vermeulen who recovered from a knee injury he picked up while on Springbok duty, hammered Montpellier 28-6. Prop Marcel van der Merwe was a Toulon substitute. Prop Jannie du Plessis, lock Jacques du Plessis, flank Wiaan Liebenberg and inside centre Frans Steyn were in Montpellier's starting XV, while utility back Henry Immelman, scrumhalf Cameron Wright and lock Paul Willemse completed the match 23.
– Jono Ross led Stade Français to an exciting 31-26 victory the high-flying La Rochelle in Paris. Ross, flyhalf Meyer Bosman and prop Heinke van der Merwe were all on duty for Stade. Centre Paul Jordaan represented La Rochelle.
– Flip van der Merwe and his Clermont teammates rattled Castres to clinch a 29-19 win. Front rowers Dan Kotzé and Jody Jenneker scrummed down for Castres, who named Rory Kockott on the bench.
– Bordeaux snuck past Pau 30-28. Lock Jandré Marais was the only Saffa involved in the clash and played for the winners.
– Bayonne, with No 10 Willie du Plessis in their ranks, drew 22-22 with Lyon. Du Plessis kicked a penalty and a conversion for the hosts. Flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter and prop BJ Botha were Lyon reserves.
– Prop Gurthrö Steenkamp's Toulouse wrapped a 31-3 bonus-point win against prop Rossouw de Klerk's Grenoble, who are rooted at the foot of the standings.
– Brive stunned reigning champions Racing 25-16. Flank Petrus Hauman and prop Kevin Buys did service for Brive, while lock Francois van der Merwe turned out for Racing.
Photo: Worcester Warriors