Bulls loosehead Gerhard Steenekamp spearheads our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
It was a weekend of thrilling highs and devastating lows for South African sides on home soil. The Sharks and Bulls scored crucial wins while the Stormers and Lions suffered extremely costly losses.
The Sharks outgunned Benetton 43-33 and the Bulls thumped Zebre 78-12 to stay in the top eight, after which the local challenge experienced a change of fortunes.
The Lions suffered a heart-breaking 39-36 loss to Leinster that dashed their playoff hopes and the Stormers’ unbeaten record at home came to an end at the worst possible time as their 26-24 defeat to Munster saw them drop from second to third place.
Our team consists of six Bulls, five Sharks, two Lions and two Stormers.
15: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls)
Attacking the point of difference in terms of his creativity. Deft grubber put Canan Moodie in for the first try and had a hand in a few more touchdowns. Produced six offloads in all and was good in the air.
14: Canan Moodie (Bulls)
Scored a hat-trick of tries, including coming off his wing and running a beautiful line for his second, and was strong on his feet. Made three clean breaks and 65 metres in all.
13: Ruhan Nel (Stormers)
Scratched and clawed for every inch. Strong in contact to power over for his first try on the stroke of halftime and scored his second in the final play of the game to earn the Stormers two bonus points.
12: Dan du Plessis (Stormers)
Highly influential with ball in hand (nine successful carries), the scything break and terrific long pass to Seabelo Senatla just before halftime and last-gasp try assist for Nel among his highlights, and great pressure on Malakai Fekitoa to force him back for a 5m scrum.
11: Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks)
Injected danger every time he touched the ball, made an early try-saving tackle on Lorenzo Cannone, stripped Rhyno Smith of possession for one of two turnovers and was rewarded for his hard work with a second-half double. Beat six defenders, made three clean breaks and ran for 109 metres – all unrivalled numbers on the night.
10: Giovanni Lombard (Lions)
The open game was right up his alley. Made a couple of leg-driving carries, showed superb soccer skills and speed to score a great solo try, kicked well out of hand, and made a try-saving tackle on opposite number Sam Prendergast.
9: Grant Williams (Sharks)
Such a livewire. Bagged a brace, showed his scintillating speed to score his second try, and made a couple of sniping breaks in an electrifying Man of the Match performance.
8: Erling Louw (Bulls)
A gain line beast (nine successful carries). Consistently kicked the door down to put the Bulls on the front foot, including setting the target in the lead-up to the second try after having had a hand in the first.
7: Vincent Tshituka (Sharks)
His most energetic and efficient performance for the Sharks yet. Started off by scoring the Durban side’s opening try, had high intensity throughout, and added some good touches.
6: Siya Kolisi (Sharks)
A talismanic performance by the Sharks skipper. Physical and hard-working, scored a try, sparked another with his second turnover, and saved one with a back-tracking tackle on Tomas Albornoz.
5: Ruben Schoeman (Lions)
A big shift from “Never Stops Going” Schoeman as Warren Brosnihan called him on commentary that included an outstanding offload that created a line break for PJ Botha, an excellent jackal in the 50th minute, and a lineout steal.
4: Ruan Vermaak (Bulls)
A top-class complete performance. Stole no less than three of Zebre’s lineouts, scored two tries and put in work on defence, covering good ground to dislodge the ball in a tackle on one occasion.
3: Thomas du Toit (Sharks)
Colossal all around. Won two pressure-relieving breakdown penalties in the first quarter and delivered a commanding scrummaging performance.
2: Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls)
Schalk Burger’s “outstanding player of the game.” Clinical with his lineout throwing, slowed the ball down at the breakdown, showed his ball skills with some silky touches, and expertly broke the line and drew the last defender to put the next man in our team in for a try.
1: Gerhard Steenekamp (Bulls) – Player Of The Week
Great work rate. Popped up everywhere, carried relentlessly, made some impressive passes, snatched a turnover, won a scrum penalty, and scored a memorable try in a Man of the Match performance he’ll never forget.