Edinburgh's Saffas celebrate, as Sharks Saffas muse over loss
REACTION: It was a game of enormous significance for two teams in Europe’s premier club competition. However, it was also a game that gave a group of South Africans bragging rights over another bunch of Saffas.
Edinburgh came from 12 points down to beat Sale Sharks 16-15 on the road in their second Champions Cup group game at the weekend.
It leaves the Scottish club with an outside chance of making the top four – and secure a play-off spot.
Sale, who has a solitary losing bonus-point from their two outings, must no contemplate a long season with virtually no chance of making Europe’s top-flight play-offs.
It is a game that featured so many South Africans, you could virtually select an entire team from them.
Sale Sharks’ Saffas were headlined by World Cup-winning scrumhalf Francois de Klerk – along with fellow Boks Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Robert du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Armand van der Merwe (in the starting XV) and Coenie Oosthuizen on the bench.
They were joined by fellow SA players Jacobus Wiese and Jean-Pierre du Preez.
Many of Edinburgh’s six South Africans are capped by Scotland – Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt and Willem Nel. Prop Pierre Schoeman – a former SA Schools and Baby Bok – will qualify for Scotland next year. Andries Ferreira and Nic Groom completed their SA contingent.
And in a inique quirk, Duhan van der Merwe and Armand van der Merwe are brothers.
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While Sale’s players will be sulking, Stuart McInally feels Edinburgh’s comeback triumph can be a pivotal moment in their season.
Richard Cockerill’s side were on the receiving end of a similar comeback from Ulster in last season’s delayed Pro14 semifinals and have had a difficult start to this season after losing a full squad of players for their opening games.
They suffered a narrow loss in their European opener against La Rochelle and were 0-12 down in Salford but a try from Mark Bennett and Jaco Van Der Walt’s kicking earned them victory.
Co-captain McInally said on the club’s website: “It means a lot. In the context of the tournament it keeps us alive in the Champions Cup which is one thing.
“But also for the group, we’ve had a tough run these last couple of months and we’ve just continued to work as hard as we can and it’s nice just to get a win.
“We had a good performance last week, but we came up just a little bit short in the result. Yeah it’s massive for the boys, the boys are delighted with that.
“I definitely think this will help us with some belief, we’ve never taken our foot off the gas in terms of what we do on the training pitch, and we’ve always been committed to our cause, but we’ve just not got those results, and sometimes it can be quite hard to get out of that rut.
“A big performance away from home – we can definitely take a lot of belief going into the next round of games.”