GARETH DUNCAN looks at the South Africans who impressed in Europe over the weekend.
With the fourth round of the Six Nations being played this weekend, the English Premiership and the Magners League only featured one game respectively. However, France scheduled a full round of matches, which saw Toulouse stretch their lead to six log points at the top of the standings.
Loosehead prop Daan Human and replacement No 8 Shaun Sowerby featured for the log leaders as they recorded a a tight 23-22 win over Brive, who fielded wing Ronnie Cooke, flyhalf Scott Spedding, flanker Antonie Claassen, lock Retief Uys, prop Pat Barnard and replacement flanker Gerhard Vosloo.
Inside centre Frans Steyn, No 8 Jacques Cronje and lock Francois van der Merwe’s chasing Racing Metro lost ground on Toulouse as they suffered 36-32 defeat to loosehead prop Eduard Coetzee’s Biarritz. Steyn kicked two penalties in the loss but also picked up a yellow card for cynically taking out wing Takudzwa Ngwenya without the ball in the 21st minute. This proved costly as Racing surrendered a 13-point lead when they were a man down.
Replacement prop Michael Coetzee’s Castres moved up to third spot as they beat fellow play-off contenders wing Brent Russell and inside centre Marius Joubert’s Clermont 23-19 in game that included three yellow cards. Joubert was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle.
Tighthead prop Danie Thiart’s Montpellier dropped out of the top four after they lost 20-16 against lock Cobus Grobler’s La Rochelle. No 8 Joe van Niekerk’s Toulon thrashed inside centre Piet van Zyl and tighthead prop Ruaan du Preez’s Bourgoin-Jallieu 39-17 in another ill-disciplined game that saw four yellow cards.
Wing Sam Gerber’s brace couldn’t help Bayonne as they were beaten 25-19 by replacement flank Gerrie Britz and inside centre Rudi Coetzee’s Perpignan. Coetzee also dotted down for the latter while Joe Pietersen featured on the wing for Bayonne.
Flyhalf Conrad Barnard’s 18 points with the boot couldn’t help flanker Adri Badenhorst, replacement lock Dewald Senekal and tighthead prop Gert Muller’s Agen as they lost 22-18 against Stade Francais. Scrumhalf Noel Oelschig was an unused sub for the victors.
In England, tighthead prop Brian Mujati’s Northampton Saints ended their six-match losing streak as they beat flanker Hendre Fourie’s Leeds Carnegie 23-13. Despite their poor run, Northampton now jump into a play-off place ahead of skipper Luke Watson, flyhalf Butch James and scrumhalf Michael Claassens’s Bath. Leeds continue their relegation struggle at the foot of the table.
In the Magners League’s only fixture of the weekend, wing Danwel Demas and flanker Gareth Krause featured for lowly Aironi in their 11-6 defeat to Connacht.