Former Boks star for Ulster

2012-04-28 20:55

Dublin - South African scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar led 1999 champions Ulster into their first Heineken Cup final in 13 years on Saturday as the Irish downed plucky Edinburgh 22-19 in the semi-finals.

Pienaar scored 17 points, with a perfect six out of six kicks, and dictated most of the Irish side's crucial incursions against an Edinburgh team who paid a heavy price for committing 16 handling errors.

Ulster's reward is a May 19 final at Twickenham against either Clermont or defending champions Leinster, who meet in France on Sunday.

Pienaar, who went into the match having scored 54 points in the tournament this season, gave Ulster the lead with a 54-metre penalty in the sixth minute.

But Edinburgh fl-half Greg Laidlaw, with 82 points going into the semi-final, replied with two confident kicks of his own as the Scots went into a 6-3 lead after 12 minutes.

Ulster then grabbed the only try of the opening half on the 15-minute mark when South African Number 8 Pedrie Wannenburg peeled off the back of a scrum to score from five metres with Pienaar adding the extras for 10-6.

Edinburgh, the first Scottish team to play in a European Cup semi-final, refused to buckle, taking the game to the Irish side who felt the pressure when fullback Stefan Terblanche was yellow-carded for a petulant punch.

Cool-headed Pienaar, however, eased the stress with another penalty for a 13-6 lead before Laidlaw deservedly kept the Scots in the tie with his third penalty of the half in injury-time after Ulster lock Stephen Ferris was penalised.

Laidlaw quickly cut the deficit to 13-12 five minutes into the second period, before Pienaar illustrated his international class.

A chip forward immediately put the Scots back under the cosh and they had to hold up lock Dan Tuohy and Wannenburg in quick succession on their try-line to keep the Irish at bay.

But Pienaar was soon slotting over his fourth successful kick for 16-12 which soon became 19-12 with another perfect pot through the uprights.

Edinburgh, dogged by more errors, conceded another penalty in the 75th minute when their scrum buckled under Ulster's superior physicality and Pienaar was again perfect with his sixth successful kick of the tie.

From that point, there was no way back for Edinburgh who had set the tournament alight by stunning four-time champions Toulouse 19-14 in the quarter-finals.

But they did have the consolation of grabbing a last-minute converted try from replacement Jim Thompson.


  • adrien.mcguire - 2012-04-29 01:06

    So, after this, how much support is there for Ruan's inclusion in a bok squad... just asking?

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-29 07:52

      Super Rugby is still the toughest tournament so SA players starring in foreign comps is not really comparing apples with apples. I don't mind the inclusion of some of the 'old' guard, but I would have them around in an advisory capacity only. Let's start building a new, fresh Bok team. We have the young raw talent. Many of the same youngsters are showing up the NZ and Auz players in the Super15, so let's just go with them and build a new, young Bok team that will grow into the squad for RWC 2015.

      Lance - 2012-04-29 08:09

      Or is there anyone who doesn't warrant his inclusion based on current form and useful knowledge of English players strengths and weaknesses..and plenty experience playing in wet soggy conditions which might prevail come June. This boy is no has-been..give him three more games in the green and gold- at the very least on the bench to pick up the pieces if the new stars get stage fright on the big stage, a cool head will come in handy.

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-29 09:17

      Lance, knowledge of the English players, agreed, but seriously dude, are you expecting wet, rainy, soggy conditions here in SA in June ??? Seriously? You know it doesn't rain then, right?

      Citroes - 2012-04-29 10:26

      @Charles - it does rain if they're playing in PE or Cape Town... The 3rd test is in PE.

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-29 12:11

      By then we've won the series :)

      Lance - 2012-04-29 18:26

      Under normal circumstances or against Oz or Nz, Houghie is my 9. Ruan sitting down with Heyneke and pointing out the kinks(if any) in Englands armour would be an invaluable advantage, especially because he plays 9 and sets the pace and style of the game. With the best Boks, slightly crocked we hope that all the new faces will shine and that the series is won by game 2..

  • Jacques - 2012-04-29 09:32

    local Coaches should have used him in one position scrumhalf only. Career damaged by playing him flyhalf, fullback and whatever. Good luck with the final

  • Kevin - 2012-04-29 10:23

    If Hougaard was to be injured - Ruan is the next best - lets not forget when playing up north i would go for Ruan before Hougaard...!

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