GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who impressed in the leagues around the world over the weekend.
The Ospreys picked up the big result in the Pro12 semi-finals over the weekend as they surged to a 45-10 victory to dethrone defending champions Munster, who had front rowers Wian du Preez and BJ Botha in their starting line-up. While flyhalf Dan Biggar was the star for the victors with an individual tally of 25 points, Krugersdorp-born wing Hanno Dirksen scored his second try in successive weeks as he dotted down in a convincing second-half display.
The Ospreys led 25-10 at half-time before Dirksen scored his try from a counter-attack after a midfield turnover. After two phases, the speedster received a pass on the touchline and showed great pace to beat two covering defenders in a dash to the corner (02:55 to 03:14 in the first video clip). This was his 10th try in 31 appearances for the Welsh club in all competitions, of which eight were scored this season.
While Dirksen (20) has featured for the American U17 and U18 squads in 2007 and 2008 respectively, he will be eligible to play for South Africa, USA or Wales in 2014. The player, who resembles a young Shane Williams, has expressed his interest in representing Wales in two years time.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE OSPREYS’ 45-10 SEMI-FINAL WIN OVER MUNSTER
DIRKSEN’S EFFORT AGAINST EDINBURGH WAS VOTED THE PRO12 TRY OF THE SEASON
Meanwhile, in the second semi-final, hooker Richardt Strauss and replacement prop Heinke van der Merwe contributed to Leinster’s 19-15 win over wing DTH van der Merwe’s Glasgow Warriors. Leinster and Dublin will duel in the final in Dublin on 27 May.
In the English Premiership, Saffa-laden Saracens lost their semi-final clash as they were beaten 24-15 by the Leicester Tigers. Seven South African-born players featured in the losers’ match 22 (inside centre Brad Barritt, scrumhalf Neil de Kock, hooker Schalk Brits, tighthead prop Matt Stevens, lock Mouritz Botha, No 8 Ernst Joubert and reserve prop John Smit).
Tighthead prop Brian Mujati’s Northampton Saints also lost their play-off to Harlequins. Northampton led 23-18 during the closing stages before Harlequins dotted down for a late converted try.
In the French Top 14, reserve wing Brent Russell crossed the chalk for one of Clermont’s seven tries in their 57-14 victory over fullback Scott Spedding, inside centre Riaan Swanepoel, wing Ronnie Cooke, tighthead prop Pat Barnard, lock Retief Uys and No 8 Petrus Hauman’s Brive. While the triumph wasn’t enough to secure Clermont top spot on the log, they still banked an automatic semi-final place. Spedding scored a try for Brive, who were relegated with the heavy defeat.
Inside centre Sam Gerber scored a try and reserve flyhalf Jacques Louis-Potgieter kicked two conversions in Bayonne’s 31-29 defeat to reserve scrumhalf Rory Kockott’s Castres. A losing bonus point was enough to steer Bayonne to safety. Castres will face hooker Erasmus van Vuuren and inside centre Paul Bosch’s Montpellier in the wildcard play-offs on 25 May.
Agen flyhalf Conrad Barnard kicked 14 points and flank Adri Badenhorst scored a try in their team’s 25-22 win over No 8 Jacques Cronje, flank Bernard le Roux and reserve lock Francois van der Merwe’s Racing Metro. Tighthead prop Gert Muller and lock Dewald Senekal were also solid for the victors. Despite the defeat, Racing still sneak into the wildcard play-offs and will face flank Joe van Niekerk and lock Bakkies Botha’s Toulon on 26 May.
In Super Rugby, Witbank-born loosehead prop Reggie Goodes made his first Super Rugby start for the Hurricanes in their 26-20 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin. The 20-year-old, who emigrated with his family to New Zealand in 2006, impressed on defence as he made 13 tackles and had a strong presence at the breakdowns.
Waratahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius also made a rare start against the Bulls last Friday as he has featured among the reserves over the past several weeks. The Sydney side looked better on attack with the former Griquas No 9′s return to the run-on side as they grabbed two tries which secured a 24-20 lead in the second stanza. However, the Bulls scored a converted try at the death to clinch a 27-20 victory.