GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who performed in the European Cup last weekend.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride over the last two years for former Stormers flanker Francois Louw. In South Africa, he had two impressive Super Rugby seasons with the Stormers and went on to make his Springbok debut in 2010. However, despite some Man-of-the-Match displays in the initial Tests, he was dropped by Bok coach Peter de Villiers after the 2010 Tri-Nations. This led to his departure to Bath following this year’s Super Rugby competition. It all ended well for the player known as Flo, as he was the surprise pick in the Springboks World Cup squad.
For his new English club, Louw made his debut in Bath’s 46-13 LV Cup win over Worcester Warriors, in which he scored a try and was named Man of the Match. Respectable performances thereafter saw Louw named captain of Bath’s European Cup home match against hooker Richardt Strauss and loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe’s Leinster on Sunday, in retired England skipper Lewis Moody’s injury absence.
It was a great 70 minutes for Louw, whose highlight was making a crucial steal at the breakdown which created the play that led to Matt Banahan’s second half try. Bath, who also had scrumhalf Michael Claassens in their run-on side, were holding on to a 13-12 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of the match, but two late three-pointers by Irish flyhalf Jonny Sexton sealed the win for the visitors. Louw conceded the last of those penalties and was sent to the sin bin in a disappointing finish to his first high profile game as captain.
Bath now travel to Dublin next weekend and will aim to pick up an important away win to keep their play-off qualification hopes alive.
In other results, No 8 Ernst Joubert scored a try in Saracens’ 31-26 win over Ospreys, which takes them to the top of Pool 5. Hooker Schalk Brits, who made his return from a three-match ban, tighthead prop Matt Stevens and lock Mouritz Botha also featured in the starting line-up.
Front rowers Wian du Preez and BJ Botha fronted Munster’s 17-14 away triumph over Scarlets to take the Irish club’s unbeaten European Cup run to three matches. Former Sharks captain Stefan Terblance made his debut for Ulster off the bench in their 31-10 home win over Aironi. Lock Johann Muller, No 8 Pedrie Wannenburg and replacement flanker Robbie Diack also turned out for the victors.
SA-born Italian lock Corniel van Zyl dotted down for a crucial try in Treviso’s famous 30-26 victory over Biarritz. Former Sharks and Lions scrumhalf Rory Kockott helped Castres to a 41-22 win over Northampton Saints, who were without tighthead prop Brian Mujati, while hooker Gary Botha started in Toulouse’s 21-10 victory over English Premiership log leaders Harlequins.