GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who impressed in Europe over the weekend.
Hooker Schalk Brits and No 8 Ernst Joubert scored tries in Saracens’ 35-12 bonus-point win over Gloucester, which helped their team book a home semi-final spot for the play-offs with the final round still ahead.
It was a dominating display from the hosts as they ran in four tries in Watford. Brits and Joubert scored Saracens’ opening two five-pointers to secure them a 15-5 lead at they break and they went on to seal the win easily. Inside centre Brad Barritt and lock Mouritz Botha were also impressive for the victors.
In other results in England, tighthead prop Brian Mujati contributed to a strong forwards display in Northampton’s 26-20 crucial away win over London Irish. The triumph sees Saints seal a semi place as they enjoy a seven-log point gap in fourth place ahead of the latter. Scrumhalf Michael Claassens was also instrumental in Bath’s 43-10 drubbing of London Wasps.
In France, No 8 Shaun Sowerby and replacement prop Daan Human played a part in Toulouse’s 33-0 thrashing of Bourgoin-Jallieu to book a place in the play-offs with one round left.
Lock Francois van der Merwe and replacement No 8 Jacques Cronje crossed the chalk as Racing Metro whipped Agen 51-34 in Colombes while eighthman Joe van Niekerk skippered Toulon to an important 43-12 victory over Perpignan to keep their semi hopes alive. Toulon find themselves in fifth place, two log points off the pace.
Wing Ronnie Cooke scored a decisive try as Brive edged Montepellier 23-21. Scrumhalf Noel Oelschig got a rare start for Stade Francais and kicked nine points, but it couldn’t save his team from a 54-20 defeat.
In the Magners League, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar wasn’t given the kicking responsibilities in Ulster’s 27-16 win over Connacht, but delivered a good all-round performance in the victory that keeps the former in the top four with the final round next weekend. It was Pienaar’s quick penalty tap and break that created fullback Adam D’Arcy’s try.
Flanker Gareth Krause scored for Aironi against Leinster but hooker Richardt Strauss and loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe’s team still went on to win 20-8. Flyhalf Willem de Waal slotted three penalties in Treviso’s 29-9 loss to Cardiff Blues.