Burger Odendaal takes centre stage in our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
The veteran midfielder starred as the Lions ran in seven tries to roar to a 45-15 win over the Ospreys at Ellis Park on Friday night. The Stormers started like a house on fire in the first of Saturday’s fixtures involving South African sides and ultimately eked out a 23-20 victory over Ulster in Cape Town.
In rainy Durban, the Sharks suffered the dishonour of becoming the first local franchise to lose to a European side on home soil as Edinburgh earned a 21-5 win before the Bulls ran rampant at Loftus Versfeld to demolish the Dragons 55-20.
The Pretoria side led the way with five representatives in our team, the Lions and Stormers each have four with a pair of Sharks rounding out our line-up.
15: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls)
Pretoria’s resident Mr. Razzle Dazzle lit up Loftus with his speed and fancy footwork. Racked up a match-high 98 metres and scored a try in each half, the second a piece of individual brilliance, which he iced with a unique no-look step and tremendous turn of pace. Put in a big hit that got the crowd rocking as well.
14: Rabz Maxwane (Lions)
Maximised his return to the URC side. Ultra dangerous and played with extra drive. Turned Josh Thomas into a non-factor with his speed to score the opening try and was instrumental in Andre Warner’s touchdown. Put in a big hit on Rhys Webb.
13: Lionel Mapoe (Bulls)
In the thick of things, running intelligent and incisive lines. Showcased his power to make a team-high six successful carries and offered top-class support play to score a double.
12: Burger Odendaal (Lions)- Player Of The Week
Captain fantastic! Got stuck in early with a terrific turnover and turned on the style on the attack. Orchestrated both first-half tries, the first with his underrated stepping ability. Worked hard, even regaining possession in the air and quickly sending Vincent Tshituka into space. A magnificent Man of the Match performance, which the man himself considers his best for the Lions.
11: Leolin Zas (Stormers)
Shot out of the blocks. Good explosiveness to break a tackle before sending Paul de Wet away and scoring a try himself. A threat every time he touched the ball, ran for a team-high 65 metres, and put in work on defence, even winning a turnover on the deck.
10: Manie Libbok (Stormers)
Confident and on point, his playmaking reel includes good work off the ball to get into position to put Zas in for his try. His perfect place-kicking performance – three penalty goals and two conversions for 13 points – proved decisive in the end, while he also kicked well out of hand with both feet.
9: Morne van den Berg (Lions)
An attacking livewire. Textbook support running saw him score a brace and put Maxwane in for his try. Quick as a hiccup, good decision-making, and got serious height with his box kicks.
8: Evan Roos (Stormers)
Had the spotlight on him and delivered in spades in his head-to-head battle against Duane Vermeulen. The Capetonians’ win came down to defence and Roos was at the heart of it, the highlight of his monster shift being the driving double leg tackle on Vermeulen. Also led the Stormers in successful carries (6) and defenders beaten (3). An absolute warrior, accepting his Man of the Match award with blood leaking out of his nose.
7: Cyle Brink (Bulls) – Player of the Week
Brilliant all around. Cut down ball carriers like a one-man wrecking crew, making a team-high 13 tackles. A ballhawk at the breakdown, where he snatched two turnovers, one in front of his try line, sat down Elliot Dee with the ball in hand and featured in the lineouts.
6: Deon Fourie Stormers)
A tough call as Marcell Coetzee produced yet another talismanic performance. However, in the context of the closely-contested clash in Cape Town compared to the rout in Pretoria, Fourie’s phenomenal work at the breakdown carried more weight. Pounced to win a vital penalty in his 22 and another that earned the Stormers three points. Bled for the cause and made an important tackle on Mike Lowry.
5: Reinhard Nothnagel (Lions)
Marvin Orie had a busy afternoon, grafting hard on defence and applying good pressure on Ulster’s lineout. However, Nothnagel knuckled down and did the donkey work for the Lions and won an excellent turnover that resulted in Edwill van der Merwe’s try.
4: Walt Steenkamp (Bulls)
A titan in the trenches, where he consistently won collisions with his bruising physicality. Showed off his athleticism when he stole the first lineout and his gas tank with a good line break and pass inside for Zak Burger to score in the 68th minute.
3: Thomas du Toit (Sharks)
Showed Edinburgh fans why he’s known as “The Tank” as he terrorised the visitors in the scrums and powered over for the Sharks’ only try. Memorably bulldozed Hamish Watson as a pillar defender as well.
2: Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls)
Clinical in the set pieces and brought his typically high work rate in open play. Provided the momentum for the second try with his barging mongrel, got onto the scoresheet yet again, and made his presence known at the breakdown to claim the Man of the Match honours.
1: Ox Nche (Sharks)
Back with a bang! Spearheaded the scrum demolition that earned the Durbanites, not one, not two, not three, not four but five penalties. Bullish with the ball in hand, too, trucking Ben Muncaster on one occasion.
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