GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who impressed in the leagues around the world over the weekend.
A week after his match-winning performance in Bath’s 27-22 win over Agen in the European Cup Challenge, Springbok flank Francois Louw delivered another outstanding performance during his club’s 23-15 win over the Exeter Chiefs at the Rec in the English Premiership.
Bath led 15-5 at half-time, but played the final quarter with 14 men because of outside centre Dan Hipkiss’ yellow and subsequent red card. The Chiefs fought back with their one-man advantage, but Louw scored Bath’s third and telling try, which was enough to see the team hold on for victory.
Louw also carried the ball 68m, made 14 tackles and was effective at the breakdowns. However, he suffered a neck injury. After showing great form during the Rugby Championship, the 27-year-old will be a key feature for the Boks during their year-end tour, if he recovers in time for selection.
Scrumhalf Michael Claassens also started for Bath.
In other results, Saffa-laden Saracens downed tighthead prop Brian Mujati and No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze’s Northampton Saints 16-6 at Franklin’s Gardens.
Hooker Schalk Brits (who received a Bok call-up on Sunday), tighthead prop Matt Stevens, lock Alistair Hargreaves, scrumhalf Neil de Kock and inside centre Brad Barritt started for the victors, while hooker John Smit, lock Mouritz Botha and No 8 Ernst Joubert featured off the bench. Barritt was a star on defence, making 13 tackles.
No 8 Ashley Johnson and skipper Marco Wentzel stood out in the London Wasps’ 29-19 win over London Welsh. Johnson was an effective ball carrier and made eight tackles, while Wentzel was a lineout kingpin.
In the Pro12, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar was flawless with the boot in Ulster’s 46-19 win over wing Tondie Chavhanga’s Newport Gwent Dragons.
Pienaar kicked five conversions and two penalties, and scored a charged-down try to take his individual tally to 21 points. While the No 9 disappointed in front of goal during the Rugby Championship, his form from the kicking tee in European conditions could be a boon for the Boks.
Hooker Richardt Strauss (who received an Irish call-up last week) scored the opening try in Leinster’s 59-22 demolition of No 8 Andries Pretorius’ Cardiff Blues. Loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe also came off the bench to make a telling contribution.
In the French Top 14, lock Bakkies Botha and captain Joe van Niekerk scored tries as Toulon saw off flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter and utility back Scott Spedding’s Bayonne 59-0 at the Stade Felix Mayol. Botha and Van Niekerk formed part of a strong forwards showing that helped annihilate the visitors.
Scrumhalf Rory Kockott continued his match-winning form for Castres as he kicked 17 points in their 22-14 win over fullback Greg Goosen, flyhalf Conrad Barnard and lock Ross Skeate’s Agen.
In the Japanese Top League, outside centre Jaque Fourie and flyhalf Peter Grant helped the Steelers to a 48-14 thrashing of the Green Rockets.
Fourie’s amazing try-scoring streak continues as he grabbed a brace, which takes his tournament tally to 11 tries in eight games. Grant kicked three of his five conversion attempts.