Du Preez fronts Munster’s charge

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

Loosehead prop Wian du Preez played the full 80 minutes in Munster’s 20-10 victory over fullback Danwel Demas’ Aironi in Viadana. It’s the Limerick-based club’s 16th win of the season, which sees them nine log points clear on top in the Magners League overall standings.

In other results, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar scored a try in Ulster’s vital 32-13 home victory against the Cardiff Blues. Lock Johann Muller and No 8 Pedrie Wannenburg also started in the win that keeps Ulster’s play-off ambitions on track. Tighthead prop BJ Botha , who officially announced his move to Munster at the end of the season, didn’t feature.

Loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe and hooker Richardt Strauss played key roles for Leinster as they trashed flyhalf Willem de Waal’s Treviso 30-5 in Dublin.

In England, Saffa-laden Saracens beat the London Wasps 26-15 in Wycombe. Hooker Schalk Britz, flanker Justin Melck, No 8 Ersnt Joubert and centre Brad Barritt started for the visitors while scrumhalf Neil de Kock and lock Mouritz Botha came off the bench. The win sees Saracens second on the table, five log points behind the Leicester Tigers.

Skipper Luke Watson, flyhalf Butch James and scrumhalf Michael Claassens continue to inspire Bath, this time in a 12-9 away win over Exeter that sees them surge into a play-off place on the log. Tighthead prop Brian Mujati’s Northampton Saints suffered a tight 18-16 defeat to Gloucester, which sees them drop out of the top four.

There were no French Top 14 fixtures this weekend.