Destroyer-in-chief Ox Nche is the leader of the pack in our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Saturday’s South African derbies saw the Bulls come good with a 34-10 bonus-point win over the Lions in Ellis Park before the Sharks and Stormers played to a dramatic 22-all draw in Durban.
The dominant Bulls provide the bulk of our team with nine representatives. Nche, our powerhouse Player of the Week, is one of four Sharks selected, while the Lions and Stormers each have one representative.
15: Aphelele Fassi (Sharks)
The 2021 South African Young Player of the Year’s zest, vision and educated left boot put the Stormers under constant pressure and saw him carve out a cracking try for Makazole Mapimpi. Racked up a match-high 48 meters and pulled off a brilliant take in the air when he soared over Manie Libbok. The costly instinctive reaction at the death took some of the gloss off, but he was still the standout local back of the weekend.
14: Madosh Tambwe (Bulls)
Tambwe’s form followed him from the right to the left-wing and so did his work rate, summed up by an excellent effort that saw him run the full width of the field to make a tackle. Despite having limited opportunities, he ran for a South African-best 71 meters and we, therefore, had to make space for both him and Makazole Mapimpi.
13: Lionel Mapoe (Bulls)
Lukhanyo Am was his usual classy self, scoring an early try and setting off on an electric run after collecting a peach pop pass from Grant Williams, but he did end up with a yellow card next to his name. Mapoe had his best game in recent memory, kick-started by a great offload that created a try-scoring opportunity (watch below). Made a South African-best eight successful carries and chipped in a pair of grubbers.
12: Harold Vorster (Bulls)
A battering ram with power and leg drive for days. Mixed it up with a memorable offload to Mapoe and a dangerous dink into the 22. Extra efforts of an insatiable showing included joining a maul from where he muscled over for the bonus-point try.
11: Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks)
The try-scoring machine was at it again, first setting up Am and then producing a world-class finish in the corner. Not his sharpest defensive display, but his typically potent and predatory attacking antics made up for it.
10: Morne Steyn (Bulls)
A maestro at work, while poor opposite number Fred Zeilinga malfunctioned. Won the kicking battle by a country mile, adding a touch of class by lopping a chip over Edwill van der Merwe’s head and rolling it into touch. Struck it sweetly off the tee, including landing two long-range penalty goals, and almost scored when he stepped a defender and attacked the line. Did it all with a smile on his face.
9: Embrose Papier (Bulls)
If you’re judging on entertainment value, Grant Williams put on a show, which included a superb offload to Am and a great break. However, Papier was super polished. His exit kicks were outstanding, the Bulls No.9 consistently finding touch on the halfway line, his decision-making was good and he added spark on the attack, darting over for a try and setting up Arno Botha for his on a nifty switch.
8: Elrigh Louw (Bulls)
The 2021 Currie Cup Player of the Year stormed out of the blocks with a tackle-busting burst in the opening minute and never let up. Imposed his will on both sides of the ball, played a big role in the maul try, and even left his mark in the lineouts.
7: Arno Botha (Bulls)
Really finding his groove again. Bowled the Lions over at the breakdown in tandem with the next man on our team sheet, the highlight of his handiwork being the 19th-minute jackal. Crossed the whitewash via the dance floor as he waltzed past Jaco Kriel.
6: Marcell Coetzee (Bulls)
Hailed as “immense” by Schalk Burger in the SuperSport studio and if ever there’s an authority on the loose forward play, it’s the Springbok legend. The Bulls captain was physical, industrious, and inspirational. Earned his team three points with a breakdown penalty in the 10th minute and made trademark carries and offloads (a match-high four).
5: Marvin Orie (Stormers)
A tower of strength in the lineouts and emptied the tank in open play, making a team-high eight tackles. Ruan Nortje was impressively energetic as well but was cooled off by having to spend 10 minutes in the sin bin.
4: Ruben van Heerden (Sharks)
Such a grafter. Led the counter-ruck that created the opening try and made a South African-best 10 tackles. Did his lineout duties with aplomb, including stealing one on the Lions’ throw in his 22.
3: Carlu Sadie (Lions)
The underappreciated powerhouse took the Bulls by the horns and blasted them back. The scrum was the best aspect of the Lions’ game, where Sadie dominated, starting with a bulldozing drive that earned the hosts their first points. His barnstorming run provided the momentum for what was ultimately a disallowed try.
2: Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls)
Everything you want out of a hooker and more. A marksman with his lineout throwing and a hard-nosed workhorse in general play, including exemplary chasing a high bomb for a disallowed try and some handy touches. Got his try and walked away with the Man of the Match award.
1: Ox Nche (Sharks)- Player of The Week
Feasted at scrum time like he was at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Mauled Sazi Sandi, winning no less than five penalties in the set-piece in the 12th, 24th, 31st, 37th, and 49th minute respectively. His key offload allowed Fassi to weave his magic for Mapimpi to score, carried strongly, and was busy on defence, smashing Seabelo Senatla and securing a turnover to round off a complete Man of the Match display.