GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who featured in Europe over the weekend.
Saffa-laden Saracens’ seven-match winning streak in the English Premiership was broken after they suffered a 30-8 away defeat to Northampton Saints. It was retired Springbok captain John Smit’s second successive start for Sarries as first-choice hooker Schalk Brits sat out his second game because of a three-match suspension for a dangerous tackle. It also proved to be Sarries’ second consecutive defeat in all competitions as they lost to out-of-form Biarritz in the European Cup last weekend.
Smit showed moments of good play, but delivered a disappointing overall performance as he formed part of a dominated pack. The 33-year-old was subbed in the 59th minute and replaced by former England U20 hooker Jamie George. Centre Brad Barritt, lock Mouritz Botha and No 8 Ernst Joubert (who scored a try) also featured in the run-on side while Stormers-bound prop Deon Carstens and SA-born England prop Matt Stevens came off the bench. Saints tighthead prop Brian Mujati was called off the wood early in the second half.
Flanker Francois Louw and scrumhalf Michael Claassens couldn’t inspire Bath to victory as they lost 16-7 to Worcester Warriors, who capitalised on World Cup-winning flyhalf Stephen Donald’s poor goal kicking.
Former Stormers lock Adriaan Fondse made his debut for new club Newcastle Falcons off the bench in a 39-8 defeat to unbeaten log leaders Harlequins. Tighthead prop Faan Rautenbach was solid up front for London Irish in their 21-17 win over lock Marco Wentzel’s London Wasps.
In the French Top 14, flyhalf Conrad Barnard kicked all Agen’s points in their 24-15 win over Bordeaux. Flanker Adri Badenhorst and lock Dewald Senekal also started for the victors.
Sharks tighthead prop Eugene van Staden made the first appearance in his short-term deal with bottom-of-the-log Biarritz, who succumbed to their seventh league defeat after a 28-9 loss to Racing Metro. Scrumhalf Rory Kockott kicked a penalty to help Castres salvage a 22-22 draw against Toulon, who led 19-6 at the break.
Lock Gerhard Mostert started in Stade Francais’ 35-15 away triumph over Perpignan, who had centres Gavin Hume and Rudi Coetzee, and lock Gerrie Britz in their match 22. Wing Sam Gerber and reserve lock Rob Linde contributed to Bayonne’s 15-9 win over scrumhalf Ricky Januarie’s Lyon.
Wing Ronnie Cooke, loosehead prop Retief Uys, reserve flankers Antonie Claassen and Petrus Hauman, replacement centre Riaan Swanepoel and reserve prop Pat Barnard all played in Brive’s 9-9 stalemate against log-leaders Toulouse, who started former Bulls hooker Gary Botha.
In the Pro12, Saffa trio lock Johann Muller and flankers Pedrie Wannenburg and Robbie Diack started in Ulster’s 17-9 away defeat to Glasgow. Cardiff Blues kept flyhalf Naas Olivier, SA-born Italian lock Quintin Geldenhuys and replacement flanker Frans Viljoen’s Aironi scoreless in a 38-0 thrashing.
Munster props Wian du Preez and BJ Botha and Leinster front rowers Richardt Strauss and Heinke van der Merwe were rested in their teams’ wins over the weekend.