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SA European Champions Cup Team Of The Week – Round 2

Damian Willemse leads the way in our South African European Champions Cup Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Damian Willemse

Damian Willemse leads the way in our South African European Champions Cup Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The two South African sides were locked in cliff-hangers on Saturday and emerged with different outcomes.

The Stormers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as a last-gasp converted try saw them pip the two-time defending champions La Rochelle 21-20 in Cape Town before a gallant Bulls side succumbed 29-28 to Lyon at Matmut Stadium de Gerland.

Ironically, it was the Bulls who played the better rugby and they’ve been rewarded with nine players in our side to the Stormers’ six.

15: Devon Williams (Bulls)

A cool customer at the back. Not many attacking opportunities to speak of other than one counter-attacking surge but handled everything Lyon threw at him whereas Warrick Gelant’s struggles continued. 

14: Ben Loader (Stormers)

Explosive in everything he did. One of the Stormers’ most consistent danger men on the day, scored a great try and won a breakdown penalty before he limped off.

13: Lionel Mapoe (Bulls)

Soft touches, such as the delayed ball that created an opportunity for Sergeal Petersen, and strong defensively, both in his channel and when he doubled as a sweeper.

12: Damian Willemse (Stormers) – Player of the Week

Ran hard and true to make good metres in midfield, stepped his way free on a few occasions, beautiful crosskick for Loader to field and score, deft 50:22 and contained the colossal Jonathan Danty.

11: Sergeal Petersen (Bulls)

Dangerous all evening, scored the Bulls’ second try and chased and competed in the air well.

10: Manie Libbok (Stormers)

His performance wasn’t without its faults, but all was forgiven when he coolly slotted the match-winning conversion from the right-hand touchline (to go with his three penalty goals). His line kicks were great as well.

9: Zak Burger (Bulls)

Great kicking from the base put Lyon under all sorts of pressure and led to him scoring an early try. Also made a brave try-saving intervention by stopping big Romain Taofifenua from dotting down.

8: Marcell Coetzee (Bulls)

A calming influence with his leadership and experience, which was vital given the makeshift side Jake White selected. Source of go-forward and influential at the breakdown.

7: Mpilo Gumede (Bulls)

Showed his power as well as his skill, highlighted by his phenomenal set-up of Petersen’s try that saw him bump off Ethan Dumortier before freeing up his wing with an unbelievable offload. Also produced a clutch jackal near his try line.

6: Marco van Staden (Bulls)

Brought the pain. Made one rib-rattling hit after the other, exploded into contact on attack as well, including scoring a go-ahead try, and won a textbook breakdown penalty.

5: Janko Swanepoel (Bulls)

The big blonde lock dropped the shoulder and put his stamp on the game with ball in hand. Very industrious and physical.

4: Adre Smith (Stormers)

Brought a hard edge to the Stormers’ pack, was a prominent ball carrier and relentlessly clattered into rucks.

3: Neethling Fouche (Stormers)

A cornerstone up front. Put in a big shift on defence and did his thing at scrum time, including winning a penalty.

2: Andre-Hugo Venter (Stormers)

A super-sub of note. Full of fire, provided the accuracy in the lineouts that had been missing and scored the try that gave the Stormers the shot to snatch the win.

1: Simphiwe Matanzima (Bulls)

Impressed with his mobility, work rate and the good carries he made.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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