GARETH DUNCAN reports on the Saffas who impressed in Europe over the weekend.
The English Premiership, French Top 14 and Pro12 were all on break as the top northern hemisphere clubs competed in the European Cup.
Retired Springbok captain John Smit came off the bench in the 58th minute to make his debut for new club Saracens in a 42-17 mauling of Italian outfit Treviso. The reserve hooker featured alongside fellow Saffas centre Brad Barritt, scrumhalf Neil de Kock, SA-born English prop Matt Stevens, starting hooker Schalk Brits, No 8 Ernst Joubert, Stromers-bound prop Deon Carstens and flanker Justin Melck in the match 22.
Smit and Joubert scored tries in the final quarter to seal the convincing win for the English champions. Former Cheetahs and Stormers flyhalf Willem de Waal added two conversions and a penalty for Treviso.
Lock Johann Muller and No 8 Pedrie Wannenburg were key in Ulster’s 16-11 win over flanker Gerhard Vosloo’s Clermont. Especially Muller, who made the most tackles in the match (12) and won eight throws in the lineouts.
Front rowers Wian du Preez and BJ Botha packed down in Munster’s 23-21 win over prop Brian Mujati’s Northampton Saints. It was a major win for the former, who edged ahead three minutes into injury time as flyhalf Ronan O’Gara slotted a late drop goal.
Prop Heinke van der Merwe and hooker Richardt Strauss featured in Leinster’s comeback as they drew 16-16 with Montepellier after trailing 13-3 at the break. A last-minute penalty from pivot Jonny Sexton forced the stalemate.
Bok flanker Francois Louw delivered an impressive individual display in Bath’s 26-21 defeat to Glasgow. The 26-year-old Louw gained 44m in his five ball carries, made the most turnovers in the match (3) and made 11 tackles, not missing one.