Lions flyhalf Tiaan Swanepoel pulls the strings in our Currie Cup Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
It was a thrilling round from start to finish with a major upset bookended by entertaining encounters on the Highveld.
The Bulls were pushed to the brink by a spirited 14-man Pumas side at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night, just hanging on, in the end, to come away with a 31-26 bonus-point win.
There was no such bullet-dodging by the Cheetahs, whose unblemished record went up in smoke in Saturday’s first fixture in Kimberley, where Griquas shocked and sizzled in their 46-18 triumph.
The final game of the weekend saw another streak come to an end at Ellis Park as the Lions blew away Western Province for a 33-10 victory, their first of the season.
The Peacock Blues provide the bulk of our team with eight representatives, the Lions and Bulls each have three representatives while a prolific Puma also cemented his place.
15: Quan Horn (Lions)
The most difficult decision of the weekend as Devon Williams, with his playmaking and versatility, and James Verity-Am, who was full of running and scored a try, made strong cases. However, Horn demonstrated class beyond his years, went over for a try (time-stamped below), and demoralised Province with booming touch-finders.
14: Sebastian de Klerk (Pumas)
The ultimate opportunist. Scored a first-half hat-trick including starting and finishing a magnificent 100-metre score. Rewarded for his electrifying endeavour with the Man of the Match award.
13: Sango Xamlashe (Griquas)
The fire-starter. Got Griquas off to a perfect start by breaking two tackles to rumble over in the first two minutes. Threatened from thereon out and gelled extremely well with…
12: Rynhardt Jonker (Griquas)
Took centre stage in the stunning upset. Found holes in the Free Staters’ defence all afternoon, the Man of the Match’s most memorable line break seeing him set up the next man’s first try.
11: Luther Obi (Griquas)
Pace and power personified. Finished off the above-mentioned opportunity with his speed and footwork (time-stamped below) before bashing through a trio of defenders for his brace shortly after the break.
10: Tiaan Swanepoel (Lions)- Player Of The Week
The star of the show for the Lions. Created a try with a cracking counter-attack, started a second by attacking a half gap and throwing a one-handed offload, made a try-saving intervention, slotted a 62m penalty – which he’d won himself on the deck – and capped his Man of the Match performance with a try (time-stamped below) for a personal tally of 18 points.
9: Johan Mulder (Griquas)
Directed traffic clinically and netted a try with textbook scrumhalf support play. Embrose Papier also impressed, showing great speed to nearly deny De Klerk his coast to coast score and put David Kriel over with an outstanding long pass.
8: Sibabalo Qoma (Griquas)
Amidst the Peacock Blues’ ambush, many might’ve missed the hard yards Qoma put in. The big, physical and mobile No 8 was in the thick of things, making eight carries and a match-high 18 tackles.
7: Hanru Sirgel (Griquas)
A tireless pit bull. Covered acres of space, won a number of turnovers and got stuck into the Free Staters, making 10 tackles and eight leg driving carries.
6: Sibusiso Sangweni (Lions)
Fired a big early shot – a walloping tackle on Cornel Smit – to put Province on notice, was a menace at the breakdown – the penalty he won in his 22 just before halftime sticking out – and saved a try when he held up Nama Xaba over the line.
5: Janko Swanepoel (Bulls)
Produced a lineout masterclass. The Bulls relied heavily on their lineout driving maul and Swanepoel was the key man in that equation. Equally immense with his competing on the Pumas’ throw, standing tall when it mattered most with a match-saving steal on his 5m line in the 78th minute.
4: Ruan Vermaak (Bulls)
A strong debut by the Bulls’ newest signing. The Pretoria side needed to and wound up playing more direct in the second half after constantly trying to go wide in a sloppy first 40 and Vermaak was key in that successful switch, providing go forward and powering over for a try.
3: Janu Botha (Griquas)
The burly chef dished up a tasty treat at tighthead. Presented powerful scrummaging as the main course and added plenty of spice in general play, making no less than 10 tackles.
2: Sidney Tobias (Bulls)
A phenomenal performance made all the more impressive by the fact he was drafted into the team at the last minute. Laser accurate with his lineout throwing, managed the ball well at the back of the maul, won a counter-rucking turnover and floated a delicate pass to Vermaak for his try.
1: Kudzwai Dube (Griquas)
A slow poison at scrum time. Consistently commanding and then activated the boosters to thoroughly dominate and finish with three scrum penalties to his name.