SA Super Rugby Team of the Week – Round 6

SA Super Rugby Team of the Week - Round 6
By Quintin van Jaarsveld

09 March 2020, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld

SA Super Rugby Team of the Week – Round 6

The Sharks soared to the summit in what was a better weekend for local teams and once again make up the majority of our South African Super Rugby Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The Durbanites’ dazzling display against the Jaguares at Kings Park on Saturday netted them a 33-19 win, pole position on the overall log and nine players in our team. The Bulls finally broke their duck as a fantastic second-half performance earned them a morale-boosting 38-13 win at Loftus.

Earlier in the day, the Lions suffered their second successive loss on their Australasian tour, being outplayed 37-17 by the Rebels in Melbourne, while the Stormers had a bye. Despite their contrasting results, the Highveld sides each have three representatives in our team.

ALSO READ: SA SUPER RUGBY TEAM – ROUND 5Fassi and Warrick Gelant were the stars of their respective teams and are set to battle it out for the Springbok No.15 jersey for years to come. Gelant was once again the playmaker the Bulls desperately need, creating a try and countless other opportunities and dotting down himself.

Fassi was phenomenal, yet again, the dynamite that blew the Jaguares’ defence to smithereens with his unpredictability, speed and footwork. The scintillating break and chip that led to the Sharks’ third try was the highlight of what was the latest episode of the Fassi Show, which included a great leaping take early on and him cleaning up a dangerous situation when a kick from the visitors stayed infield off the corner post. Extremely unlucky to be yellow-carded, he signed off having made 98 metres from nine runs and having made three line breaks and beaten four defenders.

This was a near-impossible choice to make. Nkosi and Cornal Hendricks are both fully deserved of our No.14 jersey after their crucial yet contrasting roles in their respective teams’ triumph. Hendricks was in vintage form with ball in hand, making a South African round-high 114 metres, five clean breaks, beating three defenders and scoring a hard-earned try.

Nkosi, on the other hand, had no attacking opportunities to speak of, so he created some through world-class chasing and contesting in the air. Winning contestable kicks was key to the Sharks’ success and Nkosi was sensational in this regard, initiating the opening try with aerial artistry he sustained throughout. Huge on defence as well, he made a backline-high 11 hits, including a try-saving effort. His otherworldly work rate and heart to return after seemingly being knocked out in a tackle gone wrong are what edged it in his favour.A willing, able and relentless runner, Simelane put in a super-shift, perhaps making up for lost time after missing out on the first couple of games. With an unrivalled 13 runs, he was used as the attacking ace and made some elusive darts, breaking the line and beating two defenders for a total of 30 metres despite having little room to work with. He mixed things up well with good touches and a dangerous grubber.Brains, brawn and brute force. That’s what the monstrous midfielder showcased in the Sharks’ triumphant homecoming. Ultra aggressive, he smashed the Jaguares into submission (making nine tackles in all) and turned defence into attack, dislodging the ball with his clattering hits. His awareness and fast hands were critical in the first try and his power propelled him over the try line and onto the scoresheet.The Blitzbok wizard produced some much-needed Specmagic to help get the Bulls out of their funk, making five clean breaks, skinning four defenders and racking up 110 metres en route to his hat-trick. Itching for opportunities, he refused to watch the action unfold on the wing and it’s his work rate that enabled him to pounce from a ruck to score his first try. That 56th-minute score proved to be the game-changing moment as it put the Bulls into the lead for the first time and saw them kick on to claim an emphatic win in the end.Loving life at flyhalf, Bosch had another blinder. Confident and assertive, he controlled the game brilliantly. He made a few runs to keep the Argentinians honest, but it’s his sublime and varied kicking that was truly impressive and would no doubt have caught the attention of the Springbok coaching staff. From pinpoint high balls, like the one that led to the opening try, to an equally accurate crosskick to Makazole Mapimpi that wound up as a disallowed try, to the excellent penalty kick that enabled the forwards to maul their way over in the 52nd minute, it was quite the masterclass.Like Bosch, Schreuder’s kicking was spot-on. It played a pivotal role in the Sharks’ impressive victory and started one of the Durbanites’ tries. Crucially, in an era in which players are often over-coached, he played the situation extremely well, sparking a try with a quick tap and breaking away from a scrum to catch the visitors by surprise.Another week, another special performance by the Sharks’ marquee signing who was a duel dynamo yet again. On attack, the ever-present eighthman scored a try and made 51 metres in seven carries, including two line breaks and busting two tackles, while on defence, he made all eight of his tackles and won a vital turnover in the 14th minute.This was another difficult decision to make, with Alberts and Josh Strauss both having their best games of the season. Strauss was strong with ball in hand, making some bustling runs (61 metres in nine carries), one of which provided the momentum for one of Specman’s tries. With his bulk and feared brutality, Alberts is huge for the Lions in the collisions and he put in a monstrous defensive effort, making nine big hits. He made eight carries as well but was contained commendably well.How hungry is this kid?! He plays with unbridled determination and infectious energy as highlighted by his robust performance against the Jaguares. Both Marnus Schoeman and Marco van Staden blew hot and cold at the breakdown whereas Venter picked his spots, best illustrated by the turnover he won in the 24th minute. Relentless on defence, his 12 tackles were one shy of Marvin Orie’s South African round-high tally.The forwards paved the way for the Pretoria side’s first win of the season and Nortje was the main workhorse. His output and physicality are what the Bulls had lacked and were key in powering them to victory. He made a joined team-high eight tackles (along with Johnny Kotze) without slipping one, was a willing ball-carrier and ruled the lineouts, stealing a Highlanders ball in the eighth minute and taking no less than 10 on the Bulls’ throw. Hyron Andrews had a good showing as well, capped by a galloping run and dummy to cross the whitewash.Like Nortje, Schoeman was the workhorse of his team, never letting up in a losing cause in Melbourne. A force at the gain line, rucks (when he wasn’t cleaning out, he competed for the ball) and mauls, he was the Lions’ muscle along with Alberts and put his body on the line. He made strong carries as well, topped by a surging breakaway in the 48th minute.The mauling the inspired pack gave the Highlanders at scrum time was critical to the Bulls’ triumph. The hosts steamrolled the visitors from the word go, winning several penalties, with Nyakane as the anchor. His power and pedigree are invaluable to the young Bulls pack and have been amplified by the responsibility of the stalwart serving as stand-in captain.Attitude and accuracy are what the Sharks got from Van Vuuren. One of the most driven players on the park, the hooker got over the gain line time and time again by out-grafting defenders with strong leg drives, was solid and dependable in the set pieces and on defence (making all six of his tackles) and crashed over for a well-deserved try.A strong candidate for Player of the Week honours, the former Cheetahs standout showed why he was cherry-picked as the great Tendai Mtawarira’s successor. His incredible mobility is one of his biggest strengths and it shone through at the weekend. He engulfed an unsuspecting Joaquin Tuculet, bringing the fullback’s planned counter-attack to a sudden stop and threw a beautiful pass to send Esterhuizen over in the corner. He also produced his best scrummaging performance yet for his new franchise to give them the ascendency upfront.

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