Western Province’s dynamic and dazzling No.8 Hacjivah Dayimani headlines our team of standout performers from the opening round of the Currie Cup, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
The Bulls started the defence of their title with a 33-19 win over the Pumas in a rain-soaked season-opener in Mbombela on Friday night, while Saturday saw the Cheetahs down Griquas 30-20 in Bloemfontein and Western Province score seven tries in their 48-36 win over the Lions in Cape Town.
The Bulls and Western Province each have five representatives in our team, four Cheetahs cracked the nod and alone Griquas gem completes the side.
15: Tristan Leyds (Western Province)
A ball of energy from the get-go. Full of running and flair, he caused all sorts of problems for the Lions. Looped around for his first try-assist for Angelo Davids and upped the ante when he created the try of the weekend, beating three defenders and stabbing a splendid grubber through for Davids to dive on. Made a memorable one-on-one tackle on Boldwin Hansen.
14: Angelo Davids (Western Province)
Banked a hat-trick of tries and showed his power as well when he bumped off Vaughen Isaacs. Madosh Tambwe, meanwhile, started an energetic effort by almost scoring with a superman dive inside a phone booth. Went above and beyond with his kick-chasing, hunting down restarts and retaining box kicks with aerial artistry.
13: David Brits (Cheetahs)
Dangerous and elusive. Threatened every time he touched the ball, running hard, cutting inside and outside, playing others into gaps, and scoring a top try by waltzing past Derik Pretorius and Janu Botha (time-stamped below). Regular wing Lionel Zas showed plenty of promise in his first outing at the outside center for Province.
12: Frans Steyn (Cheetahs)
A trusty steed. Heavily involved – in fact, his 13 carries were the most of the round. Tracked up restarts, worked well in tandem with Brits, and gained great distance with his penalty kicks into touch. Edged fellow evergreen stalwart Cornal Hendricks, who extended his leadership role by taking the responsibility of securing the restarts, showing great hands on one occasion. Had few opportunities but finally got to break away at the death, nearly sparking a try.
11: Luther Obi (Griquas)
The former Junior Springbok is a specimen of note and made some big plays on defence including a try-saving effort on Craig Barry and a bone-crunching hit on Malcolm Jaer. Outstripped the latter to score late after having a try disallowed in the first half.
10: Tim Swiel (Western Province)
In a word, polished. Excellent in his execution in every aspect and sprinkled a bit of spice on top with a grubber that nearly carved out a try for Davids and some fast hands. Slotted all but one of his five most challenging kicks at goal for 11 points. Chris Smith controlled things after a shaky first quarter, a sign of an experienced flyhalf. His handling and distribution in the wet conditions gave the Bulls a major momentum advantage over the stop-start Pumas.
9: Ruan Pienaar (Cheetahs)
A quintessential general. Showed his vast experience by pulling the tactical strings and scored half of his team’s points with a perfect six out of six off the tee. Ambrose Papier loved life behind his dominant scrum. Pounced on a loose ball after a big shove to score the first try of the tournament. His exit kicks were excellent and when he went high, he did so accurately. His alertness also saw him make an important tackle on Eduan Swart.
8: Hacvijah Dayimani (Western Province)- Player Of The Week
The clear Man of the Match in the Cape clash, he balled out against his former team. Dynamic and dangerous in the wider channels with his athleticism, speed, skill, and sound decision-making. Hanyani Shimange was spot-on on commentary, describing Dayimani as “an extra backline player”, whose barnstorming antics included a try-assist for Davids and a memorable five-pointer. Soared at the back of the lineout too.
7: Aiden Davis (Cheetahs)
Another loose forward who lit it up and earned himself a Man of the Match award. A powerful and prolific ball-carrier who punched dents in the Peacock Blues’ line all afternoon. On the other side of the ball, he was a dominant defender, winning collisions and making 10 tackles in all.
6: Nama Xaba (Western Province)
Gideon van der Merwe had a good showing in Cheetah’s colours against his former team, playing a link role, snatching a turnover, and driving back Siba Qoma in a tackle. However, Xaba celebrated his first game as Province captain with a complete performance that included 11 carries (a team-best), nine tackles, and a trademark turnover.
5: Ruan Nortje (Bulls)
A statement performance to start the year. Excellent all around, from his pivotal work in the lineouts and pulling off the first jackal of the tournament with tremendous technique in the 22nd minute to his hard work in the driving mauls and powering over for a try near the hour-mark to come away with the Man of the Match award.
4: Walt Steenkamp (Bulls)
The flow of the game in the rain made the lineouts extra important and Steenkamp came up big in the set-piece. The only thing better than securing a clutch steal for your team on your 5m with the Pumas looking to score just before half-time is repeating the feat at the start of the second half. Worked hard in general play as well.
3: Jacques Van Rooyen (Bulls)
An experienced enforcer. In the thick of the action, winning turnovers, making carries (a pack-high eight for 22 meters), and showing impressive hands, most notably taking a tough low pass in the rain. The scrum was the Bulls’ best weapon and Van Rooyen led the charge, crushing Corne Fourie time and time again, including creating the first try.
2: Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls)
Full of fire. Went full-on Hulk smash when he stormed ahead and dotted down with three Pumas on him in the second half! Impactful on defence, too, ripping the ball from Willie Engelbrecht in his 22 in the 26th minute and on the money on all but one occasion with his lineout throwing.
1: Gerhard Steenekamp (Bulls)
Set the tone for the visitors’ scrum dominance by folding Ig Prinsloo in the first scrum and continued his meat-grinding ways from thereon out. Satisfactory output in the tight loose.