Pienaar boots Ulster to victory

GARETH DUNCAN looks at the South Africans who impressed in the European leagues over the weekend.

Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar kicked six penalties from six attempts to secure Ulster a 18-16 victory over the Scarlets in Llanelli. In a rain-affected game, the Scarlets were leading 16-9 at half-time and were holding on at 16-15 in the dying seconds, but Pienaar clinched the win for the visitors with an injury-time penalty. The victory keeps Ulster in play-off contention in the Magners League.

In other results, prop Wian du Preez’s Munster picked up a 23-13 win over Edinburgh to stay on top of the log while hooker Richardt Strauss’ Leinster suffered a 11-3 away defeat against the Cardiff Blues.

In the French Top 14, No 8 Jacques Cronje scored a try in Racing Metro’s 32-14 win over La Rochelle. Frans Steyn started at fullback for Racing, who are now second on the log.

Centre Ronnie Cook and No 8 Antonie Claassen featured in Brive’s 26-15 crucial home win over Stade Francais. Scrumhalf Noel Oelschig and prop Rayno Gerber came off the bench for the visitors.

Centre Marius Joubert started in Clermont’s 24-19 win over wing Sam Gerber’s Bayonne. Speedster Brent Russell featured in the second stanza for Clermont but Bayonne fullback Joe Pietersen warmed the bench for the entire game.

Flyhalf Conrad Barnard, prop Gert Muller, lock Dewald Senekal and flankers Adri Badenhorst and Hendro Scholtz helped Agen to an important 23-16 win over Toulon, while prop Daan Human and No 8 Shaun Sowerby came off the bench in log leaders Toulouse’s 23-19 win over Barritz.

In England, centre Brad Barrit crossed the chalk in Saracens’ 39-0 thrashing of flanker Hendre Fourie’s Leeds. Loose forwards Justin Melck and Ersnt Joubert also played key roles for Sarries while Neil de Kock and Schalk Brits came on early in the second half. The victory sees Sarries trail Leicester by five log points in the standings.

Flank Luke Watson, flyhalf Butch James and scrumhalf Michael Claassens starred in Bath’s 38-8 victory over prop Brian Mujati’s Northamption Saints. Gcobani Bobo started at wing in Newcastle’s 23-13 loss against the Exeter Chiefs.