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.