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No break for Bok scrumhalf

Tue, 09 Oct 2012 16:56
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There will be no rest for Ruan Pienaar after the Springbok scrumhalf was on Tuesday included in a 27-man Ulster squad ahead of the opening round of the Heineken Cup this weekend.

Pienaar received a recall to the South African team at the start of the international season and cemented his place as starting scrumhalf in the latter stages of the Rugby Championship after impressive performances from the bench.

Pienaar’s experience as a 60-Test veteran and goal-kicking ability make him the favourite to wear the Springbok number nine jersey for South Africa’s end-of-year tour of Europe in November.

The Springboks will face Ireland (November 10), Scotland (November 17) and England (November 24) in consecutive weeks but before then, Pienaar is set to play an important role for his Irish club, who will have the honour of taking the only unbeaten record into this season's Heineken Cup when they open their campaign against Castres at Ravenhill on Friday.

Ulster's 25-0 home win over Connacht last weekend made it five from five for the Belfast-based side and kept them one point clear of the early leaders in the Pro12, the Scarlets, with a game in hand.

Top dogs in the Top 14 in France are Toulon, who had 21 points from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson in their 36-9 away win at Biarritz Olympique that moved them four points clear of reigning French champions Toulouse at the top of the table.

Toulon's only defeat this season was a 32-9 reverse at Toulouse, who have suffered two defeats on the road this season at Perpignan and Biarritz. Toulon kick-off at home against Montpellier, who they beat 32-25 away from home last month.

In England, London Irish dented the hitherto unblemished record of 2011 Heineken Cup finalists Northampton Saints with a morale boosting 39-17 win at the Madejski Stadium at the weekend to peg Saints' lead at the top of the Premiership back to two points over reigning champions Harlequins, Leicester Tigers and Saracens.

Top try-scorers in Europe to date this season are Toulouse with 26 in eight games. The Scarlets lead the way in the Pro12 with 19 in six outings and Harlequins have 20 from their six games in the Premiership.

European Leagues Current Standings

Pro12 P W D L Pts
1 Ulster 5 5 0 0 21
2 Scarlets 6 4 0 2 20
3 Glasgow Warriors 6 4 0 2 18
4 Leinster 6 4 0 2 17
5 Munster 6 3 0 3 14
6 Ospreys 6 3 0 3 14
7 Cardiff Blues 6 3 0 3 14
8 Benetton Treviso 6 3 0 3 13
9 Edinburgh 6 2 0 4 12
10 Connacht 6 2 0 4 10

11 Dragons 6 2 0 4 9
12 Zebre 5 0 0 5 1

Top 14 P W D L Pts
1 Toulon 8 7 0 1 32
2 Toulouse 8 6 0 2 28
3 ASM Clermont 8 6 0 2 28
4 Montpellier 8 5 0 3 23

5 Grenoble 8 5 0 3 22
6 Castres Olympique 8 4 1 3 20
7 Racing Metro 92 8 4 0 4 19
8 Biarritz Olympique 8 4 0 4 19

9 Perpignan 8 3 0 5 16
10 Bayonne 8 3 0 5 15
11 Stade Français 8 3 1 4 15
12 Agen 8 3 0 5 14
13 Bordeaux-Begles 8 2 0 6 11
14 Mont-de-Marsan 8 0 0 8 1

Premiership P W D L Pts
1 Northampton Saints 6 5 0 1 22
2 Harlequins 6 4 0 2 20
3 Leicester Tigers 6 4 1 1 20
4 Saracens 6 4 1 1 20

5 Gloucester 6 4 1 1 19
6 Exeter Chiefs 6 3 0 3 16
7 Bath Rugby 6 3 0 3 15
8 London Wasps 6 2 0 4 13
9 Worcester Warriors 6 1 1 4 11
10 London Welsh 6 2 0 4 10
11 London Irish 6 2 0 4 9
12 Sale Sharks 6 0 0 6 1

* Heineken Cup teams in bold.

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