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SA United Rugby Championship Team of the Week

Stars who shone in the classic North/South derby dominate our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Marcel Theunissen of Stormers

Stars who shone in the classic North/South derby dominate our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The difference in standard between Saturday’s South African showdowns on the Highveld was chalk and cheese and this is reflected in our selections.

Ten players who starred in the Loftus thriller, which saw the Stormers eke out a 23-19 win over the Bulls in front of a record crowd, cracked the nod, with five players who impressed at Ellis Park, where the Sharks bagged a 29-7 bonus-point win over the Lions, completing our team.

15: Clayton Blommetjies (Stormers)

A dependable figure in the last line of defence, good in the air, added touches of excitement on attack, and produced an excellent 50:22.

14: Suleiman Hartzenberg (Stormers)

Cornal Hendricks almost scored a try out of nothing, retained two restarts, and made a good line break but cost the Bulls a try and himself a place in our team by being out of position on defence. Hartzenberg came alive in the second half and posted team-high numbers in clean breaks (3), defenders beaten (4), metres (44), and offloads (2).

13: Wandisile Simelane (Bulls)

The hottest stepper in the land. Caused the Capetonians headaches and had them clutching at air with his fancy feet as he beat an unrivalled five defenders. A joy to watch.

12: Dan du Plessis (Stormers)

Carried on where he left off before the break. His exceptional work rate, ability to produce a big play like sparking the counter-attack that resulted in Junior Pokomela’s try and calming presence at the death all speak to his growth in stature this season.

11: Sbu Nkosi (Stormers)

A strong first carry set the tone for what was a confident and highly commendable comeback, which he capped off with a try following a good step off the left foot.

10: Curwin Bosch (Sharks)

Polished Man of the Match performance. Dominated the kicking battle with long, accurate line drives, including a three-wood-line 50:22 that resulted in a try and a well-weighted grubber for Grant Williams to score. Good eye and speed to score a brilliant solo try as well and finished with 14 points.

9: Grant Williams (Sharks)

Pure class. Kicked well, threatened with a quick tap, put Thaakir Abrahams in for a try with a bullet pass and showed his versatility and pace to dot down Bosch’s grubber after having moved onto the wing following Aphelele Fassi’s injury. Pipped Herschel Jantjies who released Marcel Theunissen with a great pass but was subbed in the third quarter.

8: Marcel Theunissen – Player Of The Week (Stormers)

Effervescent. His opportunistic try was the early turning point while his world-class work rate almost earned him a second. Just as industrious on defence, making a peerless 20 tackles to see off Elrigh Louw in a blockbuster head-to-head battle.

7: Junior Pokomela (Stormers)

Willie Engelbrecht laid the groundwork in a solid showing before Pokomela took things to the next level with his all-action 33-minute appearance off the bench, which included the super-sub willing his way over in heavy traffic.

6: Deon Fourie (Stormers)

Great players stand up in big matches and the Stormers’ captain courageous did just that. Made a tremendous try-saving tackle on Hendricks and won two clutch breakdown penalties, the second in his 22 when it looked like the Bulls were going to score. Denied a try by being held up by opposite number Marco van Staden.

5: Ruben Schoeman (Lions)

A light tower-like standout for the Lions. He did it all – carried with purpose, stole two lineouts – the second sparking a try-scoring opportunity – won two jackal penalties and made a team-high 11 tackles.

4: Jacques du Plissis (Bulls)

Mightily impressive 80-minute effort in his first match back from a long injury layoff. Got through a mountain of work, was a demon at the rucks, and even showed some soft hands.

3: Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Lions)

The 153kg gargantuan was prominent with ball in hand and solid in the scrums while his monster hit on James Venter was the tackle of the weekend.

2: Dan Jooste (Sharks)

Lived on the edge with his mongrel without falling off the cliff. Really got stuck into the Lions, made a match-high 12 tackles and earned the Sharks three points with a breakdown penalty.

1: Brok Harris (Stormers)

The wily veteran taught Mornay Smith a few lessons at scrum time, earning three penalties in the set-piece, the first especially vital as it came on the Stormers’ 5m line.

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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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