Overseas watch: Vermaak shines

 Oct 28,2013
Written by: Ross Hastie

Springbok scrum-half Jano Vermaak was the hero for Toulouse as he scored a crucial try in Saturday's top-of-the-table clash against Toulon in the Top 14.

With the clubs level at the summit of the standings at kick-off, the match was the highlight of the French rugby weekend as Toulouse came back from 12-0 down at half time to win 13-12.

Former Sharks playmaker Frederic Michalak kicked four penalties in the first half as European champions Toulon benefited from the considerable wind behind their backs at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

But a try from Vermaak in the second period swung the result in Toulouse's favour, as they saw-off a Toulon outfit that was missing several leading names including Bakkies Botha and Matt Giteau.

Former Bok stalwart Juan Smith did however start a game for the first time in three years as he wore number eight while former Sharks hooker Craig Burden made his Toulon debut. Gurthro Steenkamp started for Toulouse while Chiliboy Ralepelle and Schalk Ferreira both appeared off the hosts' bench.

Jonny Wilkinson had the opportunity to win the game for Toulon but uncharacteristically missed two late penalties.

Springbok fly-half Morne Steyn made his debut for Stade Français, coming off the bench to kick a late penalty in his side's 16-12 loss to Racing Métro in the Parisian derby at the Stade de France. 

Ex-Stormers full-back Joe Pieterse's club, Biarritz, were the big losers of Round 10 after being thrashed 39-0 by Castres. The Basques are stone-last and look set for relegation as they are already 12 points short of safety.

Over in England, Springbok flank Francois Louw helped Bath to a 15-13 home victory over Gloucester in the West Country derby with young fly-half George Ford kicking all of the hosts' points at the Rec.

The weekend did not go as well for Schalk Brits and Saracens as they lost 41-20 to Northampton, who cut Sarries' lead in the Premiership standings to a single point as a result. Bath are third, another four points behind Saints.

The other big result of the English weekend saw Ashley Johnson's London Wasps beat Leicester Tigers 22-12 on Sunday.

In the Pro12, ex-Cheetahs prop WP Nel's 74th-minute try secured a 20-13 victory for Edinburgh against Italian opponents Treviso at Murrayfield while Bok scrum-half Ruan Pienaar and veteran lock Johann Muller helped Ulster run in five tries to defeat Cardiff Blues 39-21.

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