SA United Rugby Championship Team of the Week

South Africa’s North-South rivals join forces to form the nucleus of our local United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The Bulls made it back-to-back Jukskei derby wins when they kicked off Saturday’s action – which fell under Round Nine – with a 21-13 triumph over the Lions at Loftus Versfeld before the Stormers upset the Sharks 20-10 in Cape Town to replace their coastal counterparts at the top of the South African Shield.

The big win in their backyard sees seven Stormers selected, while four Bulls bolster our team. A trio of Sharks and a Lions standout complete our line-up.

15: Warrick Gelant (Stormers)- Player of The Week

To the surprise of no one, red-hot Gelant was a game-changer as he hammered home why he should’ve started the other games this year. Prominent from the word go, creating a breakout from deep by straightening and unleashing Ruhan Nel and another near-try with a clever chip-and-chase. Topped off a good kicking game with a beautiful 50:22, which resulted in a try.

14: Seabelo Senatla (Stormers)

The man who cracked the Coastal derby open with a piece of individual brilliance, stabbing a grubber past Aphelele Fassi and collecting it to score just before half-time. Troubled the Sharks all evening with his speed, skill, and agility, posting South African-high numbers in metres made (79), line breaks (4), and defenders beaten (4). We had to include both him and Madosh Tambwe, hence his selection on the right-wing.

13: Lionel Mapoe (Bulls)

A big, balanced display. Beat defenders with power – blasting through a tackle in the first half – and footwork – a memorable sidestep in the second half. Added a try assist when he put a drifting Kurt-Lee Arendse away.

12: Dan du Plessis (Stormers)

With Damian Willemse’s move into the midfield seemingly drawing closer and closer, Du Plessis had a timely cracker. Ran excellent lines with increased intensity and was rewarded with a couple of brilliant line breaks (one in each half), which he iced by skillfully linking up with support runners.

11: Madosh Tambwe (Sharks)

Earned the Man of the Match award with a marvellous mix of power, pace and output. Heavily involved again, from hard chasing and brilliant aerial takes to retain possession to adding his weight and muscle for the driving maul try. First line break was a thing of beauty and he reduced Andre Warner to a minor speed bump with his explosive strength. Racked up 75 metres in all.

10: Manie Libbok (Stormers)

Assured in terms of his tactical play and decision-making, which included a slick 50:22 that resulted in a try. Dangerous when he attacked the line and perfect off the tee, slotting four from four. Chipped in a few brilliant penalty kicks into touch as well.

9: Herschel Jantjies (Stormers)

Separated himself from the rest with his energy and quickness. That injection of enthusiasm and speed gave the Stormers extra momentum and sting, while his box kicking was accurate, particularly to Angelo Davids on the right-wing. Created a turnover with pesky pressure at the back of the scrum inside the Sharks’ 22 as well.

8: Elrigh Louw (Bulls)

A tackle-busting barnstormer whose hustle matched his dynamism. Just a supreme athlete. Francke Horn played his heart out, making a match-high 12 hits, while Phepsi Buthelezi continued to display his impressive physicality, manhandling Deon Fourie on one occasion.

7: Arno Botha (Bulls)

Continued his rich vein of form with another prolific performance. A key player at the gain line, where he consistently won battles with ball in hand and on defence. Big at the breakdown, where he won two turnovers, the jackal straight after half-time being particularly memorable, and a handy lineout option.

Deon Fourie (Stormers)

Not that we thought otherwise, but his Man of the Match performance underlined that there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet. The 35-year-old blew the Sharks out of the water at the breakdown, winning a penalty in his 22 and securing a steal that sparked a 50:22 and ultimately a try his two biggest contributions, while he also made some nifty carries.

Ruben Schoeman (Lions)

The iron giant of the Lions. Massive work rate and physicality. Started his strong afternoon by repelling Louw, who’d entered the collision at full tilt, and used that power to score his team’s only try. Tireless work in open play included winning a vital breakdown penalty in his half.

Adre Smith (Stormers)

The total package – agile in the air and physical in the trenches. Played a key role in shutting down the Sharks lineout with excellent competing, including a late steal in his 22. Great hands to take a difficult pass and break through a double tackle to dot down. Ruhan Straeuli deserves a special mention for his strong effort in a losing cause.

3: Thomas du Toit (Sharks)

You can count on one hand the times tightheads got the better of Steven Kitshoff at scrum time and Du Toit joined that select group at Cape Town Stadium. The 138kg Sharks behemoth sunk the Stormers captain in the first scrum and again in the 59th minute. Brok Harris marked his 100th Stormers appearance in style but came off second best in the set piece.

2: Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks)

PJ Botha looked on his way to secure the hooker berth after earning the Lions their first three points with a breakdown penalty and charging down the touchline. However, he was subbed after 42 minutes. Thus, we rewarded Mbonambi for delivering the best defensive display of the weekend, which saw him make a South African-high 14 tackles.

1: Ox Nche (Sharks)

Simphiwe Matanzima was busy in open play, seizing a crucial breakdown penalty on his 5m line in the 27th minute, and the victim of some dubious calls at scrum time. It’s here where Nche put it on Harris, most notably brutalising him to win a penalty on the Sharks’ 5m line in the 44th minute.

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Author: editor

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