The dazzling and dominant make up our popular weekly XV following a second successive United Rugby Championship clean sweep by the South African sides, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
It was total annihilation at Loftus Versfeld, where a ruthless and rampaging Bulls team trampled the Scarlets 57-12 on Friday night to set the tone.
The Lions kept the momentum going as they roared back from an 11-point half-time deficit to claim a thrilling 23-21 win over Munster at Ellis Park before the Sharks shook off a frustrating first-half showing to score a 38-6 victory over Zebre at Kings Park in Saturday’s other match.
Finally, the Stormers dominated the Sunday showcase, crushing Cardiff 40-3 at Cape Town Stadium to make it eight from eight for the local teams against their European counterparts on home soil.
The Bulls provide the bulk of our team with eight representatives followed by the Lions with five, leading to the coastal franchises having one player apiece in our line-up.
15: Warrick Gelant (Stormers)
The current premier playmaker in the country continued to bring the magic with his vision and flair and collected another Man of the Match award for his excellence. Played a key role in Ruhan Nel’s try and carved out an even better one for Manie Libbok with a deft chip off the left boot.
14: Werner Kok (Sharks)
Those who operated on the right-wing brought it across the board. Among them were Wandisile Simelane, who over-delivered as cover. However, Kok was the one shining light in the Sharks backline, injecting energy and intensity into every play he was involved in, which were plentiful thanks to his renowned work rate. Produced a try-assist and match-high numbers in successful carries (6) and defenders beaten (3).
13: Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
Rightly praised as “one of the MVPs” of the Loftus trouncing by Owen Nkumane on commentary. Pure class, with his delectable distribution in midfield coming to the fore and making him a link man in many of the tries. Versatility came in hand as he seamlessly shifted to the wing in the final quarter.
12: Burger Odendaal (Lions)
Took over the captaincy from the injured Jaco Kriel and led from the front. Won a vital breakdown penalty just outside his 22 when the Lions were under the pump in the 26th minute. Found space where there weren’t any, including that fantastic offload to Edwill van der Merwe to bash his way over for a terrific try.
11: Madosh Tambwe (Bulls)
Sliced and diced the Scarlets to shreds. Sparked the Bulls’ scintillating second try with a break from inside his 22, racked up 132 metres in all while also beating the most defenders (5) and making the most offloads (5) on the night.
10: Jordan Hendrikse (Lions)
Clinical, accurate, extremely brave and clutch. Superb all around, slotting the decisive penalty goal in the 74th minute to cap a goal-kicking masterclass that yielded 13 points, kicked very well out of hand and had silky touches on attack. What was most impressive, though, was his statement-making defensive display, which included a top ruck turnover in the 38th minute.
9: Morne van den Berg (Lions)
The sparkplug of the roaring Lions. So nuggety and full of zest. Created the crucial try that got the Lions back in the hunt by being the first to react to a mistake and looping around to unleash Simelane. Also cleverly milked what proved to be the match-winning penalty and was fundamentally fantastic.
8: Elrigh Louw (Bulls)
Flawless, ferocious and phenomenal. Sent an emphatic message to the Springbok selectors with a barnstorming performance. Showcased unstoppable strength and skill, a breakaway from a scrum and brilliant out-of-the-back offload for Canan Moodie to run in, had a hand in another try and scored one himself. A strong Player of the Week contender.
7: Vincent Tshituka (Lions) – Player of the Week
Activated beast mode with his brother by his side. A Man of the Match performance that dispelled suggestions he’s all flash. It was his route-one carry over the gain line that provided the momentum for Van der Merwe’s try, while he won a vital turnover in his 22 on the hour-mark and an even more clutch one-against-three jackal with three minutes to go to get the Lions out of their half. Made an unrivalled 16 tackles as well to cement himself as our Player of the Week.
6: Marcell Coetzee (Bulls)
A tireless terror. Scored two tries, one in each half, which underlined his extraordinary stamina. Made a match-high seven successful carries and put his body on the line on defence. What more must the consistently colossal Bulls captain do to get a Springbok recall? Deon Fourie was fantastic as well, especially at the breakdown.
5: Ruan Nortje (Bulls)
Showed some impressive pace to gallop in for a memorable long-range intercept try in what was an all-action outing from the mobile Bulls lock. Good in the set pieces and bankable at the restarts to bag the Man of the Match award ahead of a bunch of strong contenders.
4: Walt Steenkamp (Bulls)
An in-your-face showing that saw him smash the stuffing out of the Scarlets. That physicality extended to doubling up to give ball carriers more punch, the prime example being helping his captain over for his first try. Key man in the lineout, producing a steal and offering a safe pair of hands.
3: Ruan Dreyer (Lions)
One of the super-subs that inspired the come-from-behind win. Made an immediate impact by smashing Munster in the scrum (watch below), won another penalty in his set-piece of choice in the 71st minute, secured a textbook breakdown steal, made strong carries and sacrificed his nose for the cause.
2: Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls)
Such a workhorse. Made his presence felt across the park, scoring a brace of tries, winning turnovers on the deck and forming part of a dominant front row.
1: Gerhard Steenekamp (Bulls)
Fired like a double-barrelled shotgun. Asserted him dominance at scrum time, the monster shove below a thing of beauty, and popped a sublime offload to Grobbelaar for his second try.