SA United Rugby Championship Team of the Week- Round 13

A dozen coastal stars rode a wave into our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

Saturday’s rescheduled Round 13 derbies delivered dynamite, drama, and dominance. The Stormers pipped the Bulls 19-17 in a controversial cliffhanger in Cape Town before the Sharks blew the Lions out of the water to net a 37-10 bonus-point win in Durban.

The coastal franchises each have six representatives on our side while a trio of Bulls also made the grade. 

15: Damian Willemse (Stormers)

Why does he gets paid the big bucks? Brilliant in every department. Heavily involved from the get-go, injecting danger as a link man and strike runner. Made a match-high 65 metres, was bulletproof under the high ball, a key facet the Stormers won, and showed his intelligence and skill by slotting what turned out to be the decisive drop goal.

14: Canan Moodie (Bulls)

Great to see a youngster in his maiden season play without a fear of failure, a prime example being when he backed himself and made a brilliant break from inside his 22. Beat a team-high four defenders and scored a good try in another performance that pointed to a bright future.

13: Ruhan Nel (Stormers)

Known for his fancy footwork, the former Blitzbok instead went on a power trip, most notably smashing opposite number Lionel Mapoe. Beat a match-high six defenders, mainly through breaking tackles.

12: Marius Louw (Sharks)

Serious telepathy with Jaden Hendrikse to run onto the scrumhalf’s chip and did well to get the offload away on the ground to put Phepsi Buthelezi in for his try. A strong, sustained effort in which he was torpedo-like in gaining ground with hard running and tackle fight and made some dominant hits.

11: Leolin Zas (Stormers)

Makazole Mapimpi was pure class, his power prominent every time he blasted off with the ball in hand and chipped in a good touch-finder, as did Madosh Tambwe, who fired on offense (making a team-high 54 metres) but was found wanting under the high ball. That’s where Zas excelled, winning contestable kicks with extreme athleticism on top of being dangerous on the attack.

10: Manie Libbok (Stormers)

A very tough decision to make. Curwin Bosch was brilliant in emphatically winning the kicking battle, a phenomenal 50:22 resulting in the Sharks’ third try and scoring 17 points with a flawless goal-kicking display. Libbok was perfect off the tee as well (11 points) but more importantly pivotal on attack and it was him ripping the ball back after trying a grubber that led to the opening try. In a tight game, his overall impact saw him crack the nod.

9: Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks)

A prodigy at work. Looked like a seasoned skipper in the commanding way he steered the ship in the rain. Orchestrated both first-half tries, the cheeky left-footed chip that sparked Buthelezi’s score a special bit of magic. Added an amazing 50:22 with no angle to work with to hold off Zak Burger, who was a lethal sniper.

8: Phepsi Buthelezi (Sharks) – Player Of The Week

All week, the spotlight had been on the battle between Evan Roos and Elrigh Louw and while both had big performances, Buthelezi blew the doors down to remind everyone that he, too, is on the hunt to succeed Duane Vermeulen in the Springbok No 8 jersey. A smashing machine who trucked Reinhard Nothnagel and Ruben Schoeman, scored a try, made a South African round-high 70 metres and a match-high 11 tackles to take out the Man of the Match award.

7: Hacjivah Dayimani (Stormers)

Stole the show. Brought energy in overdrove and was the point of difference with his athleticism and flair. Fantastic footwork to score on the stroke of halftime, after he’d denied Zak Burger a try. The yellow card did little to take the gloss off a shining Man of the Match showing.

6: Deon Fourie (Stormers)

His second act as a flank is even better than the first as a hooker. The best fetcher in the country by a mile and was an absolute menace at the breakdown again, getting in early and winning a second turnover just before half-time that eventually led to the opening try. Made a clean break and a few tellings tackles.

5: Ruan Nortje (Bulls)

Crushed it in the lineout as if he had the Stormers’ playbook. Nicked off the first on his try line in the sixth minute and stole another just before half-time. Showcased his offloading game yet again as well as his work rate, which put him on the spot to go over for a controversial disallowed try.

4: Gerbrandt Grobler (Sharks)

Those who judge a book by its cover see the Sharks second-rower with his man bun as a “pretty boy.” With a hard edge to his game in the rain, he may well have proved a point. Drew first blood with a good try and maximised his natural gifts by retaining a contestable kick.

3: Thomas du Toit (Sharks)

Another strong all-around effort by the Sharks captain. Had the upper hand at scrum time, carried well, and continued the momentum with offloads. They covered good ground on defence for a 138kg colossus, including knocking the ball out of Vincent Tshituka’s grasp with a cover tackle.

2: Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls)

Thoroughly impressed by how he grew stronger as the game progressed. When the rest faded, the industrious Bulls hooker shifted into fifth gear. Punched the ball up three times in quick succession in the build-up to Elrigh Louw’s try, so it’s no surprise he led the team in successful carries (8).

1: Ox Nche (Sharks)

Edged a fascinating and fierce generational scrum battle against Jannie du Plessis but his real value was in general play. One of the busiest bruisers in the trenches and played a key role in the gainline dominance the Durbanites had.

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Author: editor

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