Percy Montgomery and John Smit produced big performances in the French Top 14.
Montgomery, just six tests away from becoming the first Springbok to 100, converted three pressure second half kicks as Perpignan beat Stade Francais 26-12 in Paris.
It was Stade’s first home defeat in 60 matches. And what made it even worse was that they led 12-6.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers is keen to involve Montgomery in this year’s international campaign and the veteran fullback is starting to find his radar after a cautious start to his French club career. Montgomery has played most of Perpignan’s matches, but he has had to rebuild the strength in his knee following a serious ligament injury in the World Cup final.
Perpignan, who are in the European Cup quarter-finals, have struggled in the domestic league, but the away win has boosted their top eight aspirations.
Smit, who has started the last four matches after a two month injury lay-off, produced his best performance of the season in Clermont’s 40-22 away win against Dax.
Smit, confirmed Springbok captain for 2008, told Keo.co.za his knee had stood up well to the demands of four successive matches and that he was close to full fitness.
Springbok coach De Villiers also met with Montgomery in Perpignan a month ago and the fullback’s latest performance will be a timely boost after the struggle of the SA teams in this year’s Super 14.
Former Cheetahs midfielder Ronnie Cooke was also in good form as Brive beat Bourgoin, but Springbok Ashwin Willemse’s French club woes continued when he left the field with a shoulder injury in Biarritz’s loss to Castres. Willemse has struggled to make the starting XV in the last six weeks and the latest injury is a further setback to his overseas aspirations.
Castres 26-19 Biarritz
Albi 15-25 Montauban
Brive 29-13 Bourgoin
Dax 22-40 Clermont
Montpellier 29-24 Auch
Bayonne 10-25 Toulouse
Stade FranÃ§ais 12-23 Perpignan
League standings after Round 13 :
1 Toulouse 53
2 Clermont Auvergne 47
3 Stade Francais 39
4 Biarritz Olympique 36
5 Castres 31
6 Montauban TG15 31
7 Montpellier RC 30
8 Perpignan 30
9 Bourgoin-Jallieu 28
11 CA Brive 26
12 Sporting club Albigeois 21
13 Dax 16
14 Auch 10