GARETH DUNCAN looks at the South Africans who impressed in Europe over the weekend.
Tighthead prop Brian Mujati delivered an impressive all-round performance in Northampton Saints’ 53-24 trashing of 14-man Sale Sharks. The Zimbabwean-born former Springbok powered through Sale’s defence to score one of Northampton’s eight tries and was central in his team’s dominance at scrum time and the forwards battle at the rucks.
The win boosts Saints’ play-off chances with four rounds remaining before the semi-finals. Despite suffering a five-match losing streak midway through the season, they now enjoy a five log-point advantage above fifth-placed London Irish.
In other results in England, Saffa-laden Saracens beat skipper Luke Watson, replacement hooker Pieter Dixon, scrumhalf Michael Claassens and flyhalf Butch James’s Bath 20-9 in Watford. Centre Brad Barritt, hooker Schalk Brits, No 8 Ernst Jourbet and replacement lock Mouritz Botha and prop Petrus du Plessis featured in the win that sees Sarries trail Leicester by three log points, while Bath continue their freefall down the table.
Lock Marco Wentzel and flanker Hendré Fourie’s Leeds Carnegie picked up a vital 27-22 win over Exeter Chiefs while tighthead prop Faan Rautenbach started in London Irish’s 25-12 victory over London Wasps.
In France, inside centre Frans Steyn and No 8 Jacques Cronje’s Racing Metro lost ground on table toppers Toulouse after a 26-16 defeat to wing Sam Gerber, replacement lock Rob Linde and fullback Joe Pietersen’s Bayonne. Gerber scored a try for the latter.
Toulouse rested loosehead prop Daan Human and No 8 Shaun Sowerby as they pipped centre Rudi Coetzee’s Perpignan 25-24. Flyhalf Conrad Barnard kicked 11 points in tighthead prop Gert Muller, lock Dewald Senekal and flanker Adri Badenhorst’s Agen’s 21-16 victory over Castres.
Centre Piet van Zyl and flanker Wessel Jooste’s yellow cards led to lowly Bourgoin-Jallieu’s 42-27 defeat to flanker Johan Wasserman’s Montepellier. Lock Coenie Basson’s try for the losers proved to be consolation.
Flyhalf Scott Spedding, tighthead prop Pat Barnard, flanker Gerhard Vosloo, No 8 Antonie Claassen and replacement lock Retief Uys were fielded in Brive’s 26-9 triumph against lock Cobus Grobler’s La Rochelle.
No 8 Joe van Niekerk crossed the whitewash in Toulon’s 38-10 drubbing of tighthead prop Rayno Gerber and replacement scrumhalf Noel Oelschig’s Stade Francais while Sharks-bound centre Marius Joubert’s Clermont thumped replacement prop Eduard Coetzee’s Biarritz 41-13.
In the Magners League, Ulster continued their impressive run as they edged Scarlets 20-18 to jump in to second place in the standings. Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar kicked 10 points for the victors while tighthead prop BJ Botha, lock Johann Muller, flanker Robbie Diack and No 8 Pedrie Wannenburg contributed to the win.
Loosehead prop Wian du Preez’s Munster edged hooker Richardt Strauss and replacement prop Heinke van der Merwe’s Leinster 25-24 to stretch their lead at the top of the table to 12 log points.
South African-born Canadian international wing Daniel van der Merwe started in Glasgow’s 17-16 win over wing Danwel Demas and replacement lock Quintin Geldenhuys’ Aironi. Lock Corniel van Zyl featured in Treviso’s 33-10 defeat to Newport Gwent Dragons.