Super Rugby Unlocked Team of the Week – Round 6

Best Players of Super Rugby Unlocked
By Quintin van Jaarsveld

Seven Stormers stars have been included in our Super Rugby Unlocked Team of the Week after the Cape side crushed the Cheetahs 30-13 on Saturday night, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

It wasn’t the farewell the franchise had hoped for in terms of the beloved stadium being empty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but Steven Kitshoff and company delivered on the pitch to ensure a victorious Newlands swansong, which moved the Stormers up to second place on the log.

The Sharks, meanwhile, had to pull a rabbit out of the hat to sneak past a game Griquas side in Kimberley on Friday night, the Durban side staging a dramatic comeback to snatch a 34-33 victory at the death, with Curwin Bosch again being the hero.

The flyhalf is one of four Sharks players in our side, with Griquas and the Cheetahs each contributing two standouts to our team. The catfight between the Lions and Pumas at Ellis Park was postponed after positive coronavirus cases in the men from Mpumalanga’s camp, while the log-leading Bulls had a bye.

15: Warrick Gelant (Stormers)

In his element at the Stormers. Continued his rich vein of form with another stellar showing that saw him cut up the Cheetahs’ defence as a playmaker and strike runner. Created a terrific try with a lethal counter-attack (one of two clean breaks) and ran a good line to score a try of his own. Earned a team-high 48 metres, stepped five defenders, kicked well and won a breakdown turnover in the Cheetahs’ 22.

14: Ruhan Nel (Stormers)

Ederies Arendse and Yaw Penxe pushed hard for places in our team, but Nel nailed down the right-wing berth with a performance marked by quality over quantity. Had just three opportunities to run with the ball and made the most of it, beating four defenders for 37 metres. Most impressively, did exceptionally well in the lead-up to Juarno Augustus’ try. Won a key turnover in the 12th minute.

13: Jeremy Ward (Sharks)

Rock-solid. Played an important role in the Sharks’ comeback, both as captain and when he backed himself and found a way through a wall of defenders to score. Heart and skill, he stepped three would-be tacklers and willed his way over for a converted try that closed the gap to 30-24. Made a few trademark big hits as well.

12: Frans Steyn (Cheetahs

A true veteran performance, the two-time World Cup winner took responsibility and carried the disjointed Cheetahs on his back. Had the hard-running Steyn failed a late fitness test, the Stormers would probably have put 50 past the Free Staters. Made a round-high 14 carries, most from a standing start, and still broke five tackles. Also made a vital tackle on Damian Willemse to snuff out the danger.

11: Rosko Specman (Cheetahs)

Leave it to the Blitzbok legend to score one of the most awe-inspiring tries you’re likely to see with pure “Specmagic.” Determination, skill and athleticism wrapped into one sensational piece of individual brilliance, which momentarily brought the Cheetahs back into the match at 20-13. Ever elusive, he made 54 metres, three clean breaks and beat four defenders in 10 runs.

10: Curwin Bosch (Sharks)

A heated debate as Willemse produced one of his most commanding performances at 10 for the Stormers (conceding a yellow card at the end was unnecessary, though), while Tinus de Beer was brilliant for Griquas. However, the Sharks’ Mr BMT proved his pedigree once again to keep the Durban side’s title hopes alive.

Coolly slotted the match-winning penalty and was clutch all evening with excellent goal-kicking, including landing a key conversion from the right-hand corner to keep the comeback alive. Pinpoint final restart allowed Sbu Nkosi to retain possession, from which the decisive penalty was accrued, was accurate with his tactical kicking and his fancy footwork led to Ward’s try.

9: Herschel Jantjies (Stormers)

Another difficult decision. Sanele Nohamba was all class, particularly with his box kicking, and was on hand to score the opening try, while opposite number Zak Burger was big as Griquas captain. The vision and timing of Jantjies’ opportunistic early try – the Stormers scrumhalf sniping down the blindside – ensured the Cheetahs remained in two minds throughout. Cleaned up sloppy lineout tap-backs very well with some hot-stepping and provided crisp service.

Juarno Augustus (Stormers)

A third tough call in a row. Phepsi Buthelezi played a roaming role for the Sharks, while “Trokkie” was more direct and physical (as usual). The Stormers eighthman did, however, work hard across the park, which saw him cross the whitewash for the second successive week and retain his place in our team. His nine carries were the second-most by a Stormers player, softening up the visitors while earning the hosts 24 metres.

7: Thembelani Bholi (Sharks)

Snapped up from the Kings, Bholi enjoyed a breakout performance for his new franchise. Set the tone early as he ripped the ball free and set off on a breakaway run, from which the Sharks scored the opening try, and was a force to be reckoned with throughout. Made 61 metres in 11 carries (beating three defenders) and three tackles.

6: Gideon van der Merwe (Griquas)

A true, top-notch openside outing – in the Sharks’ faces all night. Johnny on the spot, he was in prime positions, which enabled him to slice through the Sharks’ defence twice, beat four defenders and bag a try, just reward for his world-class work rate, which also saw him make seven tackles. Showed skill as well with a stunning offload that saw Ederies Arendse canter in.

5: Hyron Andrews (Sharks)

Hyron Andrews did a great job disrupting Griquas’ lineout, stealing a ball in his 22. Outwitted the towering JP du Preez, who at 2.09m is the tallest player in South Africa. Orie was influential in the lineouts against the Bulls as well, offering a steal and safe hands, and outworked his closest rival in open play, where he produced a joint-round-high tackle count (see above) without slipping one.

4: Adre Smith (Griquas)

A pillar of strength in all facets. Strong at the gain line and good in the lineouts, where he snatched one on the Sharks’ throw. Sensational on defence, where he won no less than three penalties on the floor and made all six of his tackles. Just as influential on attack, where he made a pack-high 28 metres in five carries, highlighted by a clean break and brilliant offload to send Van der Merwe in.

3: Frans Malherbe (Stormers) – Player of the Week

Doc Danie Craven famously said the first player on any team sheet should be the tighthead prop and the second the replacement tighthead. Malherbe showed why with a destructive display that provided the platform for the Stormers’ emphatic win.

The human bulldozer forced Hawies Fourie’s hand, the Cheetahs coach having no choice but to pluck Charles Marais off after just 21 minutes after Malherbe had mauled him into conceding three penalties. Won a fourth scrum penalty in the second half and made seven tackles, including a big hit on Junior Pokomela. It’s not often that a prop is rewarded with the Man of the Match honours; Malherbe not just deservedly won the award but is also our Player of the Week.

2: Scarra Ntubeni (Stormers)

Knows how to maximise a starting opportunity, which is exactly what the Stormers stalwart did once again. Good in the set pieces and excellent on attack, where he juked and jived past four defenders and made 21 metres in five carries. The highlight of his performance, though, was the outstanding offload with which he put Augustus over.

1: Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)

Having played over 100 games for the Stormers, Kitshoff can be well-pleased with the way he led the team to a final win at the grand old dame of South African rugby. Won two scrum penalties, the second restoring his side’s 10-point lead in the 69th minute, and was once again exceptional around the park, making a team-high 10 carries and winning two penalties with his breakdown brilliance.

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