South African European Adventure Is Over


The South African challenge in their inaugural season of playing in the top European competitions came to an end on Saturday when the Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions all lost in the quarter-finals of their respective series.

The two coastal sides came up short in the Heineken Champions Cup, with Stade Toulousain running away late in their match against the Cell C Sharks in France, after which the DHL Stormers were beaten by a clinical Exeter Chiefs side in England.

In the last match of the day, the Glasgow Warriors had to work hard for their EPCR Challenge Cup quarter-final victory over the Emirates Lions in Scotland.

Last weekend, the Vodacom Bulls and Toyota Cheetahs lost in their round of 16 encounters in France.

The first Heineken Champions Cup semi-final will be between Leinster and Stade Toulousain in Dublin, while Exeter will take on the winner of Sunday’s quarter-final between the defending champions, Stade Rochelais, and Saracens.

In the EPCR Challenge Cup, Toulon host Benetton and the Scarlets take on the Warriors in the semi-finals. All these playoff matches are scheduled for the last weekend of April, with dates and kick-off times to be confirmed.

Brave Cell C Sharks shut out in Toulouse quarter-final

Stade Toulousain delivered a quality second-half performance for a 54-20 victory against the Cell C Sharks in a thrilling Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at the Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse on Saturday to book their place in the semi-finals.

The first half was a tight tussle as both teams threw everything on attack and created opportunities at will, scoring a try apiece, but Stade Toulousain fullback Thomas Ramos’ three penalty goals to only one by Cell C Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch handed the hosts a 14-10 halftime lead.

The five-time European champions underlined their class as they finished with a flurry in the second half scoring six tries – four of which in the last 12 minutes – to only one by the visitors for the rewarding victory.

Impressive Chiefs end DHL Stormers' charge in Exeter

The Exeter Chiefs scored six converted tries to put an end to the DHL Stormers' challenge in the Heineken Champions Cup with a composed performance in their quarter-final, winning by 42-17 (half-time 21-0) at a packed Sandy Park in the south-west of England on Saturday.

The hosts - enjoying the bulk of possession and territorial advantage in the first half - were clinical at the start of the game, both on defence and attack, where they managed to vary their play to cause the DHL Stormers some issues as they scored three tries in the first half-hour.

The DHL Stormers started the second half with more purpose, but it was England No 8 Sam Simmonds who stretched Exeter's lead to 28-0 with a try that exploited some more weak defence from the visitors.

Gutsy Emirates Lions miss out on European semi-finals

The Emirates Lions’ admirable EPCR Challenge Cup campaign came to a brave but ultimately fruitless conclusion as the Glasgow Warriors edged their way into the semi-finals with a 31-21 (halftime 14-0) victory at Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday evening.

The visitors had long periods of pressure from the 20th minute onwards – and had much the best of the second half – but were undone in two key areas; their lineout was poached and misfired frequently under the pressure of the skyscraping Richie Gray and, for all their field position and pressure, they lacked the invention or penetration to breakdown a resolute home defence.

The Warriors had led from the first, but the game was in the melting pot as late as the 64th minute when No 8 Francke Horn scored the Emirates Lions’ second try.

Prop Zander Fagerson bullied his way over from less than a metre to restore the 14-point margin but from there on in it was an arm wrestle with Glasgow’s defence ultimately proving itself resilient enough to repulse the Emirates Lions’ one-off runners.