Here’s a wrap of the South Africans playing in the French Top 14, Japanese Top League and Premiership, where Saracens surrendered their unbeaten run.
– Benhard Janse van Rensburg produced another commanding display at center as London Irish ended Saracens unbeaten run with a spirited 29-20 victory. Janse van Rensburg made 30 meters from eight carries, picked up a try assist and made 10 tackles to continue his fine season for the Exiles. It was also a good game for former DHL Stormers hooker Mike Willemsewho started for London Irish and made 16 tackles in 63 minutes. Ivan van Zyl started for Saracens.
– Sale Sharks failed to capitalize on Saracens’ loss after letting a 14-0 half-time lead slip to suffer a 20-14 defeat to Newcastle Falcons. Dan du Preez and Robert du Preez started for Sale, as did lock Cobus Wiese and flank Jono Rosswhile Jean-Luc du Preez and Akker van der Merwe were substitutes.
– Exeter Chiefs closed in on the top four by surviving a late onslaught to beat Bath 20-15. Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder started for Bath.
– Leicester Tigers overturned a half-time deficit to beat Gloucester 28-13 and handed Richard Wigglesworth a first win as interim head coach. Leicester captain Hanro Liebenberg put in a solid shift at blindside flank, with five carries, 25 meters gained, four players beaten to go with completing all nine of his tackle attempts. While he ended up on the losing side, Gloucester’s Ruan Ackermann put in a fantastic shift. Ackermann made 55 meters from 21 carries, six passes and 11 tackles.
– Toulon’s rollercoaster form continued as they bounced back from a loss to Racing by beating fellow mid-table side Lyon 21-3. Cornell du Preez started for Toulon, who are in ninth place on the table, just one point outside the top six playoff places. Lyon had Arno Botha on the bench.
– Bayonne stayed in the top six after coming from behind to hold strugglers Pau to a 22-22 draw. Uzair Cassiem started at No 8 for Bayonne, who are one point ahead of Toulon in sixth place.
– France-capped South African-born lock Paul Willemse returned for Montpellier to help his club beat relegation-threatened Perpignan 38-10. Tristan Tedder started at fullback for Perpignan. Defending champions Montpellier are in fourth place, 10 points off the top of the table.
– La Rochelle fell to fifth place after suffering a 12-8 loss to Bordeaux. Dillyn Leyds and Raymond Rhule both started for the European Champions, who also had debutant flank Kyle Hatherell in their lineup. Jandre Marais started for Bordeaux.
– Nico Lee starred for Brive as the Top 14’s bottom placed side stunned Clermont 20-16. The result arrested a poor run of four consecutive losses for Brive.
– Toulouse kept their place at the top of the table by holding on to beat a dogged Castres 22-18. Springbok flank Rynhardt Elstadt started for Toulouse, who are seven points clear in first place.
– In arguably the result of the round, Stade Francais climbed above Racing 92 into second place by handing their Parisian rivals a 48-10 thrashing on Christmas Eve. Jeremy Ward started at outside center for Stade, while lock JJ van der Mescht and scrumhalf James Hall both made good impacts off the bench. Springbok tightheads Trevor Nyakane played for a near-full strength Racing side.
Japan Top League
– A hat-trick of tries from All Blacks center Ngani Laumape steered Kobe Steel to their first win of the season after a 14-try spectacular with Hanazono Kintetsu Liners. lock JD Schickerling and flank Marcell Coetzee both started for Kobe, who claimed a 58-36 victory after losing their first game of the season to Canon Eagles.
– After a disastrous performance on opening day, Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo were much better second up for the season, but it was still not enough as Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo ground out a 17-7 win. Former Vodacom Bulls and Lions captain Burger Odendaal made his debut off the bench for Brave Lupus.
– Giant killers, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Sagamihara Dynaboars, made it two wins from two amid late drama as they edged Toyota Verblitz in a 27-25 thriller. Walt Steenkamp was at lock for the Dynaboars, while Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit started for Verblitz.
– Two missed conversions in the last five minutes by Wallaby flyhalf Bernard Foley proved vital as the points were shared in a 27-27 stalemate between the Yokohama Canon Eagles and the Kubota Spears. Faf de Klerk made his first start for the Eagles, having come off the bench in round one, and was joined in the starting lineup by center Jesse Kriel. The Spears had three South Africans in their lineup: Malcolm Marx and locks Ruan Botha and David Bulbring.
– Tokyo’s Suntory Sungoliath rebounded from last week’s defeat by Kubota, showing no mercy as they ran in eight tries to overpower Michael Cheika’s NEC Green Rockets 50-19. South African-born Japan fullback Kotarō Matsushima started for Sungoliath.
– The Saitama Wild Knights needed a last-minute try to snatch a 15-14 victory against the Kwagga Smith-captained Shizuoka Blue Revs. Damian de Allende started for the Wild Knights.
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