SA United Rugby Championship Team of the Week- Round 16

All four franchises are well represented in our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

It was another excellent round and particularly important bonus-point wins for the three local playoff contenders. The Stormers turned on the style to secure a 32-7 win over the Glasgow Warriors in Cape Town on Friday night to shoot up to second place on the log.

On Saturday, hours after news broke of the passing of Bulls and Springbok legend Pedrie Wannenburg in a car accident in America, the Pretoria outfit paid tribute to the former loose forward with a 46-29 victory over Benetton at Loftus Versfeld.

The Sharks then held on to claim a tense 28-23 win over log-leading Leinster in the Durban rain. Earlier, the Lions were less fortunate as they suffered a heart-breaking 33-30 loss to Connacht in Johannesburg.

The coastal sides and the Lions each have four representatives in our team, with the Bulls providing a trio of standouts.

15: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls)

A very difficult decision after Warrick Gelant treated us with 40 minutes of pure magic in the ultimate super-sub performance. Arendse benefitted from extra minutes and was the attacking spark of the Bulls, making the most clean breaks (3) and metres (108) at Loftus and scoring a brace of tries. Won a turnover as well.

14: Rabz Maxwane (Lions)

Made the most of his opportunities and scored one of the Lions’ tries. What was really impressive, though, was his work off the ball, which included sideline to sideline hustle, excellent competing in the air and putting Connacht under immense pressure at the restarts.

13: Wandisile Simelane (Lions)

Super slick and ultra-elusive. Caused Connacht all sorts of problems with his dancing feet, carrying the ball in both hands and top tier distribution. Scintillating break and pass to give Maxwane a try on a platter at a vital time and put in a big hit on Jack Carty.

12: Damian Willemse (Stormers) – Player Of The Week

Money in a Man of the Match performance that highlighted his dynamic skill set, vision and versatility as he seamlessly switched from fullback to centre for the second half. The try he created for Rikus Pretorius was a ridiculous piece of playmaking while he caused further problems with his power and footwork. Made a match-high 85 metres and four offloads and added a deft 50:22.

11: Edwill van der Merwe (Lions)

Not just hard to stop because of his fancy footwork but also his acceleration into and determination after contact. That saw him lead the Lions with six successful carries despite being one of the smallest players in the team and he crossed the whitewash.

10: Curwin Bosch (Sharks)

Booming, accurate kicking out of hand was pivotal in the wet conditions. That he wasn’t rattled by a few early charge-downs showed the confidence he’s gained in recent weeks. Powered by that elevated mental strength, he attacked the line and cut Leinster to pieces to rack up unrivalled metres (108), clean breaks (3) and defenders beaten (6).

9: Morne van den Berg (Lions)

Absolute livewire. Darted and probed all afternoon and caught Connacht off-guard to score an opportunistic quick-tap try. Textbook sweeping defence and good with the boot as well.

8: Evan Roos (Stormers)

An 80-minute tour de force summed up by the barnstorming run in which he blasted past three defenders to score the bonus-point try in the final play of the game. Also highlighted what a freakish physical specimen he is to be that dynamic and dominant after the superhuman amount of work he’d put in.

7: Hacjivah Dayimani (Stormers)

Showed what a special ball player he is – a back-row point of difference – with his two try assists. Explosive speed and good decision-making to opt for Herschel Jantjies on his inside and slick hands to send Lionel Zas over.

6: Marcell Coetzee (Bulls)

More of the same from the Bulls’ captain fantastic. Fought for every inch, maximised momentum with his league-leading offload game and put his body on the line on defence. Insatiable drive saw him smash and stretch over for the bonus-point try.

5: Ruan Nortje (Bulls)

A unique attacking weapon. Ran great lines and consistently committed two defenders due to his offloading ability, which was highlighted in the Bulls’ opening try. Galloping run and second try assist at the death underscored his remarkable gas tank and capped a towering Man of the Match performance that included a team-high seven tackles.

4: Le Roux Roets (Sharks)

The super heavyweight played a big role in the Sharks pack’s dominance. Started the softening up process by attacking the rucks in the first half and feasted in the second. A banker lineout option and maul monster.

3: Frans Malherbe (Stormers)

A returning Oli Kebble had talked tough in the build-up and was immediately and in no uncertain terms made to understand whose house it is as Malherbe gored the 140kg former Stormer in the first scrum and proceeded to torment him at every turn.

2: Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks)

Brought the thunder. Super physical, winning collisions and making a team-high five successful carries. A master of maul management, few would’ve stayed as patient and picked the right time to strike as he did to score his try and was rewarded with the Man of the Match award.

1: Ox Nche (Sharks)

Pure domination at scrum time. Baffling how he ended up with just two penalties in the set-piece, but then, the officiating was head-scratching. Bounced off defenders on more than one occasion and made a team-high eight tackles in a beastly 70-minute effort.

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Author: editor

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