Back-row beasts Marcell Coetzee and Evan Roos headline our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
The two talismanic loose forwards played leading roles in their respective team’s quarter-final triumphs on Saturday. Chris Smith was pivotal for the Bulls as well, dropping in at the death to clinch a dramatic 30-27 win over the Sharks in Pretoria, while a strong second-half showing saw the Stormers overcome Edinburgh 28-17 in Cape Town.
Roos is one of eight Stormers in our side, Coetzee and Smith are among a quintet of Bulls while a pair of Sharks also made the grade.
15: Warrick Gelant (Stormers)
Canan Moodie continued to raise his stock, his intercept, pace, and football skills to create Madosh Tambwe’s try the highlight of a strong overall outing. Gelant, however, was more influential, even with the one missed opportunity. Scored an opportunistic try, played a key role in both Ruhan Nel and Roos’ tries, and made a try-saving tackle on Mark Bennett.
14: Seabelo Senatla (Stormers)
An example of his evolution into a complete contributor. Dangerous on attack, where his speed and decision-making were crucial in Nel’s try, smashed back runners on defence, competed at the breakdown, and chased hard.
13: Ruhan Nel (Stormers)
Stepped up the intensity and took the fight to Edinburgh on defence, exploding off the line and making a few crushing hits, including one on Darcy Graham. Impactful on attack as well, running and working hard in support and rounding off a good try.
12: Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
Wore No 13 but played most of the match at inside centre due to Harold Vorster’s early injury. A one-man army, running a brilliant line to slice clean through for his try, creating a try-scoring opportunity with a world-class long pass, winning restarts, and securing a clutch breakdown penalty in his 22 in the 78th minute.
11: Lionel Zas (Stormers)
Super explosive and elusive, making something out of nothing on more than one occasion – the first example being a brilliant early break. Excellent in the air and slotted in well when he had to see out the game at centre. Outworked Tambwe, while Makazole Mapimpi was potent on attack but his defensive shocker that led to Tambwe’s try left a bad taste.
10: Chris Smith (Bulls)
The Bulls’ hero with his match-winning drop goal, showing he’s ready to step up in the big moments. Flawless off the tee, scored 15 points in all, maximised the penalties won with excellent touch kicking, fast hands to put Hendricks in, and strong on defence, making a team-high 11 tackles.
9: Zak Burger (Bulls)
A polished all-round performance. Kept the Sharks guessing with a few probing grubbers, consistently hit the right runners (look at the build-up to Coetzee’s try), in a class of his own when it came to clearance kicks, and snatched two turnovers.
8: Evan Roos- Player Of The Week (Stormers)
An insatiable beast. Otherworldly output on both sides of the ball, beating more defenders (5) and making more successful carries (7), clean breaks (2), metres (72), tackles (15) and turnovers (3) than anyone else. It’s that work rate that saw him pounce on a loose ball to score, make a spot tackle that forced a turnover and counter-ruck prolifically. Super smash and grab on Pierre Schoeman as well to cap a monstrous Man of the Match performance.
7: Henco Venter (Sharks)
A tireless titan. Often a silent assassin, it was good to see the perennial grafter command the spotlight from a Sharks perspective. A dominant defender and made a number of big plays, including a try assist for Sikhumbuzo Notshe and a clutch third maul turnover in the 79th minute.
6: Marcell Coetzee (Bulls)
Made a massive statement by thoroughly outplaying opposite number Siya Kolisi. The total package, busting out of tackles, touching down just after halftime, and producing smart and skillful touches, none better than the spectacular swivel ball that sparked Hendricks’ try. Led the way in successful carries (7), defenders beaten (3), and offloads (3).
5: Marvin Orie (Stormers)
A massive shift in which he showed off his extraordinary motor. Poured on the pressure from start to finish, particularly on Henry Pyrgos, forcing a turnover on one occasion and charging down one of the scrumhalf’s kick in the 78th minute, all while running the lineout with veteran chops.
4: Walt Steenkamp (Bulls)
The muscle of the Bulls’ tight five, he was instrumental in standing up to the physical challenge of the Sharks heavies. Great work in the trenches and good in the lineouts to take out the Man of the Match award.
3: Thomas du Toit (Sharks)
Did all he could to get his team over the line. Delivered scrum dominance, including winning penalties in minutes 57 and 68, won collisions in close quarters, and looked like a supersized loose forward with his breakdown work.
2: JJ Kotze (Stormers)
Made a name for himself with a clinical and all-action display. A tackling Trojan and earned his team three points with a breakdown penalty in the 51st minute. Pipped the bustling, busy, and try-scoring Bongi Mbonambi.
1: Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)
Worth his weight in gold. Outworked the other big men and eventually overwhelmed at scrum time, goring WP Nel to win two penalties in the second half. Big on defence, one of his low tackles enabling Nama Xaba to swoop in for a jackal on his 5m line in the 73rd minute.