GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who impressed in the leagues around the world over the weekend.
The English domestic season kicked off on an exciting note after some stirring action in the opening round.
Of those results, Saffa-laden Saracens enjoyed a 40-3 victory over London Irish. Hooker Schalk Brits, tighthead prop Petrus du Plessis, lock Mouritz Botha, No 8 Ernst Joubert, inside centre Brad Barritt and replacement scrumhalf Neil de Kock all contributed to the Watford club’s victory, with Barritt grabbing one of four tries for the bonus-point.
Flank Francois Louw and scrumhalf Michael Claassens helped Bath overcome a 15-6 half-time deficit to beat Worcester Warriors 24-23. It was Louw’s last club game before joining the Springboks in Australia for the team’s away games.
Former Bulls No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze had a mixed start to his career at Northampton Saints, as he played a key part in the club’s 24-19 away win over Gloucester before receiving a yellow card in the final quarter. Tighthead prop Brian Mujati also featured in the run-on side for the victors.
Lock Marco Wentzel scored a try to help the London Wasps surge into a 33-13 second-half lead against Harlequins, but a major implosion saw the defending champions deliver an amazing comeback to edge a 42-40 triumph. Former Cheetahs loose forward Ashley Johnson was an unused sub for the losers.
In France, props Wicus Blaauw and Eugene van Staden’s Biarritz enjoyed a 22-17 victory over defending champions Toulouse, who had loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp and hooker Gary Botha on the field. The victors top the log after winning all three of their matches so far this season.
The other unbeaten French club is No 8 Joe van Niekerk and Bakkies Botha’s Toulon, who eased to a 29-15 win over new boys Mont-de-Marsan. The losers had four Saffas in their team in lock Berend Botha, flank Johannes Britz, hooker Pieter Grobler and second-rower Vickus Liebenberg.
Former Toulouse No 8 Shaun Sowerby and lock Naude Beukes formed part of Grenoble’s 26-12 upset win over lock Anton van Zyl’s Stade Francais.
In the Pro 12, lock Johann Muller and flank Robbie Diack helped Ulster, who are missing Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, to a 18-10 win over Glasgow.
Props Wian du Preez and BJ Botha started in Munster’s 23-18 edging of Edinburgh.
No 8 Andries Pretorius captained the Cardiff Blues to 13-9 win over hooker Ettiene Reynecke’s Connact. Pretorius is set to become the next South African player to qualify for another nation as he’s touted to get a Welsh call-up this year.