Euro Springbok players show their mettle

2013-10-15 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Former Springboks Bakkies Botha and Joe van Niekerk were in top form as they helped Toulon kick off the defence of their European crown with a crushing 51-28 victory over Glasgow Warriors on Sunday.

Botha was at his hard-hitting best while Van Niekerk was at the origin of one of Toulon’s six tries as the French team thrashed the Pro12 league leaders.

South African-born Canadian international winger DTH van der Merwe scored two of Glasgow’s four tries as the visitors fought back in the second half after trailing 34-0 at half time. But Matt Giteau’s second try in the last minute rounded off a convincing win for Toulon.

In Sunday’s big game in Paris, Springbok lock Juandré Kruger’s Racing Métro beat Clermont 13-9 thanks to a breakaway try from wing Marc Andreu. Clermont dominated for large periods of the game, but last season’s losing finalists were never able to breach the Parisian side’s defence, despite Francois van der Merwe’s late yellow card.

The European action kicked off on Friday, when English giants Saracens were given a real fright by Irish side Connacht, who upset the pre-game predictions to be level at 17-17 after an hour thanks to a try from former Stormers winger Danie Poolman. However, two late penalties from England fly-half Owen Farrell gave Sarries a precious away win.

Toulouse thrashed Italian minnows Zebre 38-5 with Springbok loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp featuring in the starting line-up while hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle appeared off the bench on the 30-minute mark.

Johann Muller captained Ulster to a crucial home win over Leicester Tigers in Friday’s headline fixture in Belfast with the introduction of Ruan Pienaar off the bench proving influential in the Irish team’s success. .

Once again Rory Kock­ott was the star for Castres as the French champions battled to a 19-13 victory over Northampton Saints at Stade Pierre Antoine with the former Sharks scrumhalf kicking 14 points.

WP Nel’s Edinburgh caused one of the big upsets of the round, beating Munster 29-23 at Murrayfield, but the Scarlets grabbed Saturday’s headlines with a surprise 33-19 away win over Harlequins. Three-time Heineken Cup champions Leinster claimed a vital victory on the road with a 19-9 win over the Ospreys.

Wynand Olivier helped Montpellier to a 27-10 victory away to Treviso. Former Sharks wing Wandile Mjekevu was on the losing side at Kingsholm as Gloucester narrowly beat Perpignan 27-22.

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