Joubert shines for Clermont

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

Centre Marius Joubert was the top South African performer in the European league play-offs this weekend, producing an impressive 80-minute performance that contributed to Clermont’s 27-17 comeback victory against Biarritz in the French Top 14 semi-final qualifiers. Clermont were 17-6 down at half-time, but gave a strong second-half showing for the win. Joubert, who will join the Sharks at the end of Clermont’s season, will now feature in his team’s semi-final clash against Toulouse on 28 May.

Centre Grant Rees’ Montepellier will square off against utility back Frans Steyn, No 8 Jacques Cronje and lock Francois van der Merwe’s Racing Metro in the other play-off after they edged Castres 18-17 in their qualifier.

In England, tighthead prop Brian Mujati delivered a strong performance up front for Northampton Saints’ in their play-off against Leicester, but his team still lost 11-3. Northampton’s season isn’t over as they will face Leinster in the European Cup final on 21 May.

Leicester will face Saracens in the final after the latter recorded a 12-10 win over Gloucester. Centre Brad Barritt, hooker Schalk Brits, lock Mouritz Botha and Ernst Joubert started for the Watford-based club while scrumhalf Neil de Kock came off the bench.

In the Celtic League, hooker Richardt Strauss and replacement prop Heinke van der Merwe contributed to Leinster’s 18-3 win over Ulster. Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar kicked a 60m penalty in a disappointing overall display from the South African contingent of flanker Pedrie Wannenburg, No 8 Robbie Diack and lock Johann Muller. Replacement looshead prop Wian du Preez did well off the bench in Munster’s 18-11 win over Ospreys.