Saffa-laden Sarries en route to Euro play-offs

GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who impressed in the leagues around the world over the weekend.

Saracens picked up a great 37-28 comeback win over Racing Metro in Nantes, which gives them pole position in Group 1 with only the last round of league fixtures remaining.

The French club held 25-18 lead at half-time, but a strong second-half performance saw the English side secure victory.

While flyhalf Owen Farrell was the star of the show, kicking 32 points via 10 penalties and a conversion, nine South African-born players were part of the victors’ match 22.

Inside centre Brad Barritt, hooker Schalk Brits, tighthead prop Matt Stevens, lock Mouritz Botha and No 8 Ersnt Joubert started the clash, while hooker John Smit, prop Petrus du Plessis, flank Nick Fenton-Wells and scrumhalf Neil de Kock were on the bench.

Barritt, Botha and Joubert put together impressive 80-minute performances, making 14 tackles between them.

Lock Francois van der Merwe and loose forward Jacques Cronje featured for Racing Metro.

Saracens will have to beat winless Edinburgh to secure a quarter-final place in the European Cup.

Hooker Gary Botha scored a try in Toulouse’s 35-14 win over scrumhalf Tobias Botes’ Treviso. Reserve prop Gurthro Steenkamp also came off the bench to make an impact for the victors. Botes kicked three penalties for the Italian side.

Scrumhalf Rory Kockott kicked four penalties for Castres in their 18-12 loss to loose forward Gerrit-Jan van Velze’s Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens. No 8 Antonie Claassen and his replacement Pedrie Wannenburg also featured for the French club.

In the European Challenge Cup, Bath secured their quarter-final spot with a 19-16 win over tighthead prop Gert Muller’s Agen. Flank Francois Louw delivered an impressive all-round performance, which included eight tackles.

The London Wasps smashed flank Meyer Swanepoel’s Mogliano 71-7. Skipper Marco Wentzel scored a try in a top display, which included 50m gained with ball in hand, three turnovers, 15 tackles and four clean lineout claims.