GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who impressed in Europe over the weekend.
Hooker Schalk Brits delivered a Man of the Match performance in Saracen’s 22-18 win over Leicester in the English Premiership final at Twickenham. The former WP and Stormers hardman was instrumental on attack and defence against the defending champions, crafting the James Short try in the first half and forming a big part in the Saracens’ guard that restricted Leicester successfully.
Up front, lock Mouritz Botha and skipper Ernst Joubert also did the hard yards while scrumhalf Neil de Kock and inside centre Brad Barritt were impressive in securing Saracens’ first title.
In the Celtic League final, loosehead prop Wian du Preez came off the bench to help Munster to a 19-9 win over hooker Richardt Strauss and loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe’s Leinster, who won the European Cup the week before after beating Northampton.
In the French Top 14 semi-finals, loosehead prop Daan Human displayed a good performance as Toulouse thumped Clermont 29-6. Outside centre Marius Joubert, who was impressive in the semi-final qualifier against Biarritz last weekend, also did well but he couldn’t inspire Clermont on this occassion. It was Joubert’s final match for the French club after a four-year stint and he now heads down to the Sharks.
Racing Metro suffered a big upset as they lost 26-25 to Montpellier in the second play-off. Replacement centre Grant Rees contributed to the victory at the death against a Racing side that featured inside centre Frans Steyn and No 8 Jacques Cronje.
Racing’s early exit will see Steyn head home a week earlier than expected. With Super Rugby only ending on 9 July, the Springbok fullback will be able to get his allocated four-week rest before the start of the Tri-Nations.