Saffa duo keep Bath in semi race

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

In the only English fixture, scrumhalf Michael Claassens and flyhalf Butch James orchestrated Bath’s 14-11 away win over wing Gcobani Bobo’s relegation-threatened Newcastle Falcons. Claassens scored a try from close range while James added two penalties to seal the win that keeps their team’s play-off hopes alive. They will need to beat Newcatle again at home and will need fourth-placed Northampton Saints to lose against flanker Hendre Fourie’s lowly Leeds Carnegie next weekend.

In the European Cup, tighthead prop Brian Mujati contributed to Northampton’s superior forwards display, that was instrumental in their 23-7 semi-final win over inside centre Gavin Hume’s Perpignan. Hooker Richardt Strauss and reserve loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe impressed in Leinster’s 32-23 win over replacement prop Daan Human and No 8 Shaun Sowerby’s Toulouse.

In the Amlin Challenge Cup, the second-tier knock-out competition in Europe, Brent Russell impressed at flyhalf for Clermont, but his try couldn’t help his team as they lost 29-25 against Stade Francais. The victors will face Harlequins in the final as the English club beat loosehead prop Wian du Preez’s Munster 20-12.

The league stage of the English Premiership, French Top 14 and Magners League conclude next weekend.