GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who have impressed in the leagues around the world over the weekend.
Toulon have enjoyed an unbeaten start to their French Top 14 campaign as they secured their fourth consecutive victory against Bordeaux.
Lock Bakkies Botha and captain and flank Joe van Niekerk both started in the 42-12 bonus-point win at the Stade Mayol, which saw the club hold on to top spot on the log. Both players have been in impressive form up front for Toulon, with Botha providing his characteristic hard edge and Van Niekerk showing good leadership and having an influence on attack and defence.
Botha’s good form could be a great boon for the Boks, who are likely to loose No 4 lock Eben Etzebeth to suspension. Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer has expressed his interest in calling up the veteran second-rower.
Props Wikus Blaauw and Eugene van Staden started in Biarritz’s 27-8 victory over inside centre Paul Bosch, reserve hooker Erasmus van Vuuren and replacement lock Drikus Hancke’s Montpellier. The Basque club has also won all four of its games to date, and trail Toulon by a singe log point in the overall standings.
Clermont tighthead prop Daniel Kotze came off the bench to help his team clinch a 13-12 comeback win over No 8 Jacques Cronje and flank Bernard le Roux’s Racing Metro. Trailing 12-7 in the final quarter, Kotze formed part of a strong forwards showing that saw scrumhalf Morgan Parra punish Racing’s late ill-discipline.
Hooker Gary Botha and loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp came off the bench to help defending champions Toulouse crush Agen 62-13. Botha scored a try at the death.
In the clash of the new boys, Grenoble smashed locks Philipus Liebenberg and Berend Botha’s Mont-de-Marsan 52-7. Replacement prop Albertus Buckle scored one of seven tries, while lock Naude Beukes, No 8 Shaun Sowerby, wing Ronnie Cooke and utility back Rudi Coetzee also featured for the victors, who jump up to fifth place in the standings.
Scrumhalf Rory Kockott kicked four penalties in Castres’ 20-20 draw against lock Anton van Zyl’s Stade Francais. Tighthead prop Michael Coetzee, No 8 Antonie Claassen and replacement flank Pedrie Wannenburg also got a run for the former club.
In the English Premiership, Saffa-laden Saracens downed replacement centre Corne Uys’s Sale Sharks 23-16. Inside centre Brad Barritt, hooker Schalk Brits, tighthead prop Petrus du Plessis, lock Mouritz Botha and No 8 Ernst Joubert started for the victors, while lock Alistair Hargreaves and scrumhalf Neil de Kock came off the wood.
Scrumhalf Michael Claassens steadied Bath to a 30-23 win over lock Marco Wentzel and replacement flank Ashley Johnson’s London Wasps. It was Johnson’s official debut for his club.
Tighthead prop Brian Mujati and No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze started in the Northampton Saints’ 24-21 edging of the Exeter Chiefs. However, Van Velze struggled with his discipline, and received his second yellow card in as many games.
In the Pro12, loosehead prop Wian du Preez and replacement tighthead prop BJ Botha helped Munster ease to a 19-6 win over lock Cornel van Zyl’s Treviso.
Tighthead prop WP Nel came off the bench to help Edinburgh beat No 8 Andries Pretorius’s Cardiff Blues 21-19. Lock George Earle put in a good 60-minute performance in Scarlets’ 18-13 win over wing DTH van der Merwe’s Glasgow.
Wing Hanno Dirksen scored a try to give Ospreys a 7-3 half-time lead against lock Johann Muller’s Ulster, but the Northern Irish club managed to secure a 16-13 triumph.