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Highlighting the best South African players of Round 3 of Super Rugby.

04 March 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld


The traditional South African rugby super powers came up trumps in the local derbies in Round 3 of Super Rugby this past weekend.

Both the Bulls and the Stormers got the job done away from home, the former thumping the Lions in Johannesburg and the latter surprising the Sharks in Durban to shake-up the South African Conference.

As a result, they make up the bulk of the South African Team of the Week.

Provided the early spark with his intercept try to set the upset win in motion. A constant threat and nearly had a second. Fellow Springbok Warrick Gelant was also good for the Bulls in the earlier game.

Was the danger man in a tight and tough affair, somehow creating space and dancing past several defenders. Cornal Hendricks wasn’t as flashy but deserves a special mention for his hard-grafting in the trans-Jukskei derby.

Am again was a key man for the Sharks. So smart and skilful on attack, ran a good inside-the-shoulder line to score, provided crucial cover to take a threatening grubber inside the 22 into touch and made a try-saving tackle on Damian Willemse. Did spend 10 minutes in the bin, but did so as the victim of his team’s repeated infringements.

The former Blitzbok’s best game for the Bulls to date. Not the typical sevens player, Sage showcased his strength in contact situations, and skill in a set-piece move with a perfectly-timed run to catch a long lineout ball and put fellow former Blitzbok Rosko Specman into a hole with an inside ball.

Makazole Mapimpi made a big impact for the Sharks, but Specman shone in more ways than one. The flyer bobbed and weaved to four clean breaks, beat five defenders and racked up an unrivalled 74 metres. Moreover, he showed grit in the manner in which he manned up in his physical positional battle against the bigger Ruan Combrinck.

Dictated play expertly behind a dominant pack. Tactically spot on, both in terms of decision-making and execution, to put the concerns of Buenos Aires behind him and his team. Showed once again that he’s a natural leader as stand-in skipper, kicked seven out of eight from the tee and bagged the Man of the Match award.

Like Pollard, his tactical-kicking was much-improved, and his service was crisp. It was off the ball, however, where he really impressed, saving two possible tries with terrific sweeping defence, the most overlooked facet of scrumhalf play.

Was the weapon that finally breached the resolute Lions defence to score the opening try after a near 30-minute assault. Made the hard yards, nine tackles and won a breakdown penalty.

Embodied the Super Hero theme of the day. The reigning SA Player of the Year showed what a truly special athlete he is with a tireless, Test-calibre performance; 12 carries, a whopping 18 tackles and two turnovers.

A second courageous showing in a row by the Stormers skipper. The cliché is used far too often and loosely nowadays, but he truly led by example, perhaps summed up best by his hit on the Beast on the tryline. It was a guts and glory type of win, and Kolisi was a big part of that.

Had a huge game and formed a fierce combination with Eben Etzebeth. Had the Sharks at sixes and sevens at lineout time, snatching two on their throw, and was a physical force around the park (nine carries and 10 tackles). A vital TLB-like turnover inside his own 22 showed he brings more than mass and muscle to the table.

In a word, colossal. As enforcer, he inspired and led his side’s ultra-aggressive defensive effort. Looked unstoppable at times with ball in hand, dominated the lineouts and secured the restarts. A world-class 80-minute performance.

A difficult decision this week. Sadie edges it due to his superior workrate around the park, which included nine tackles and a try.

A vintage performance by the veteran. He was the heart and soul of the Bulls in every aspect. The attacking spark, with sniping runs including a breakaway from a short 1-2 lineout, clever offloads, top-notch set-piece play, non-stop tackling and a turnover on the deck. Not many outshine Malcolm Marx in head-to-head competition, but Saturday belonged to the evergreen 38-year-old.

Like Sadie, he was busy in open play and scored a five-pointer, plus he earned a good scrum penalty in the final quarter. Bulls loosehead Lizo Gqoboka also continued to impress.

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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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