Wild cats dominate our Currie Cup Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Saturday’s semi-finals produced two surprise results, which will see the Cheetahs host the defending champion Pumas in the decider this weekend.
The Free Staters controlled matters from the opening minute to cruise to a 39-10 win over the Bulls in Bloemfontein in the first playoff before the men from Nelspruit kept their reign alive in Durban, defeating the Sharks 26-20 in a cliffhanger.
Making up our side are six Pumas, five Cheetahs and four Sharks.
15: Devon Williams (Pumas)
An attacking player by nature but beat the Sharks at their own kicking game with his left boot. Stayed disciplined to the game plan and executed to a tee.
14: Andrew Kota (Pumas)
Grabbed an intercept try, won a turnover on the deck, chased extremely hard and was good in the air.
13: David Brits (Cheetahs)
A solid, no-thrills outing. Ran hard, pumped his legs post-contact and varied his game with some probing kicks. Formed a good combination with…
12: Reinhardt Fortuin (Cheetahs)
Celebrated his 50th cap in style. Great chasing of Ruan Pienaar’s kick to charge down Johan Goosen’s kick and draw first blood and consistently clattered over the gain line.
11: Cohen Jasper (Cheetahs)
Had few opportunities but injected danger every chance he got with his fleet-footedness and looked for work.
10: Ruan Pienaar (Cheetahs) – Player of the Week
A general who oozed class as he dictated terms. Top-class decision-making, excellent kicking out of hand and a deadly sharpshooter off the tee, slotting eight out of eight for a personal tally of 22 points, which saw him surpass 600 Currie Cup points.
9: Rewan Kruger (Cheetahs)
A composed and clinical display by the promise-filled rookie. Great with his exits – twice finding touch over halfway – quick to the breakdown and with his distribution and played a key role in Tapiwa Mafura’s try.
8: Henco Venter (Sharks)
Even with the yellow card he conceded, he was immense for the Sharks, making an unrivalled 15 carries and 10 tackles. Over the Pumas like a rash, took Chriswill September for a walk with a dynamic surge and had some deft touches.
7: Francois Kleinhans (Pumas)
Put his body on the line until he finally broke down after a heavy collision with Ntuthuko Mchunu in the second half. Departed having put in a massive shift that included 20 tackles.
6: Andre Fouche (Pumas)
Led the Pumas’ heroic defensive effort, making no less than 26 tackles, the pick of the bunch being a bone-crunching hit on Tiaan Fourie. Made some good carries as well, one of which saw him fend off Vincent Tshituka.
5: Shane Kirkwood (Pumas)
An ultra-committed captain’s innings that inspired his teammates. Did the donkey work in the Durban thriller, the lesser-seen but crucial grunt that wins small battles en route to winning the war.
4: Corne Rahl (Sharks)
Finished a very good maiden Currie Cup campaign on a high note from a personal point of view. Willed his way past three Pumas to score his first try and emptied the gas tank industriously.
3: Khutha Mchunu (Sharks)
Formed part of a dominant scrum, made the third-most tackles by a Sharks player with nine and hit the ball up on seven occasions.
2: PJ Jacobs (Pumas)
Excellent all-around. Did his primary duties with aplomb, got onto the scoresheet, made an impressive 13 tackles and was the Pumas’ most productive ball-carrying forward with seven hit-ups.
1: Khwezi Mona (Sharks)
The scrums got the Sharks back into the game and Mona was the main driving force, winning three penalties with his power and technique.