GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who impressed in the leagues around the world over the weekend.
In the Japanese Top league, there are two teams that are starting to edge away from the pack at the top of the standings. Ironically, both sides have two South Africans playing key roles in their squads.
They are scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and lock Danie Rossouw’s Suntory Sungoliath and outside centre Jaque Fourie and flyhalf Peter Grant’s Kobe Steelers. Both clubs are unbeaten after six rounds.
Over the weekend, Fourie starred during the Steelers’ 70-24 win over Kyushu Kyuden Voltex. The Springbok midfielder grabbed a hat-trick as Kobe scored 10 tries in total. Grant also displayed a flawless performance with the boot, kicking all seven of his conversions.
Fourie has now scored seven tries in six league appearances.
Du Preez and Rossouw’s Suntory downed Toyato Verblitz 25-22 away from home to hold first place on the log. The former did well in the No 9 jersey before being substituted in the second half.
In other results, inside centre Wynand Olivier scored his first try for the Ricoh Black Rams to help them record a 36-19 win over the NEC Green Rockets. The Black Rams now feature in mid-table after back-to-back triumphs.
In the European Cup, there were several Saffas who impressed in round one.
Lock Bakkies Botha delivered a strong individual performance in Toulon’s 37-16 win over inside centre Paul Bosch and lock Drikus Hancke’s Montpellier. The Springbok second-rower scored a try, rushed 27m with ball in hand, completed an offload, made six tackles and won three feeds at the lineouts.
Flank Josh Strauss scored his first try for Glasgow Warriors during their 24-15 defeat to tighthead prop Brian Mujati and loose forward Gerrit-Jan van Velze’s Northampton Saints.
Strauss was the lone star in the Scottish club’s pack. On attack, he gained 18m with ball in hand and beat two defenders, while he also made four tackles on defence. Mujati enjoyed an impressive 66-minute performance.
Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss was a stand-out in the Irish club’s 9-3 win over the Exeter Chiefs. He won 32m in five ball carries and made six tackles. Loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe also ran on off the wood for the victors in the second half.
Wing Hanno Dirksen scored a brace in the Ospreys’ 38-17 victory over tighthead prop Bees Roux and scrumhalf Tobie Botes’ Treviso.
Ulster captain Johann Muller and reserve scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar made telling contributions in the team’s 41-17 thrashing of tighthead prop Michael Coetzee, No 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, reserve scrumhalf Rory Kockott and replacement flank Antonie Claassen’s Castres.
Muller marshalled the lineout battle and made 11 tackles, while Pienaar scored Ulster’s bonus-point try at the death by beating the defence with a great run. Reserve hooker Rob Herring also played for the victors.
Saffa-laden Saracens thumped prop WP Nel’s Edinburgh 45-0 at Murrayfield. The victors fielded seven South African-born players as inside centre Brad Barritt, hooker Schalk Brits (who received a yellow card in the second half), tighthead prop Matt Stevens and lock Mouritz Botha started, while front-rowers John Smit and Petrus du Plessis, and scrumhalf Neil de Kock featured off the bench.
Hooker Gary Botha and loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp fronted Toulouse’s 23-9 win over the Leicester Tigers.
In the European Challenge Cup, wing Sam Gerber scored one of Bayonne’s 11 tries during their 71-7 smashing of lock Meyer Swanepoel’s Mogliano. Second-rowers Rob Linde and Dewald Senekal also played for the victors.
Outside centre Rudi Coetzee crossed the whitewash in Grenoble’s 59-3 crushing of Cavalieri Prato. The French club also fielded reserve prop Albertus Buckle and midfielder Ronnie Cooke.
Director of rugby Gary Gold’s Bath cruised to a 40-17 win over Romania’s Bucuresti Wolves. Gold fielded a second string side, with Springbok flank Francois Louw being an unused sub on the bench.
Fullback Stefan Basson scored all Rovigo’s points via four penalties as the Italian side suffered a 79-12 drubbing at the hands of Perpignan.
Lock Marco Wentzel and flank Ashley Johnson delivered strong 80-minute performances in the London Wasps’ 38-25 win over the Newport Gwent Dragons.