Roaring Lions dominate our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
The pride of Johannesburg turned a week from hell in which player unhappiness came to light into a spirited 35-24 win over the Glasgow Warriors at Ellis Park on Saturday that snapped a five-match losing skid and ended the Scottish club’s 10-match hot streak in all competitions.
Earlier in the day, the Sharks went down 31-24 to Ulster in Durban. The mixed fortunes came in rescheduled Round Six showdowns. Our team consist of nine Lions and six Sharks.
15: Boeta Chamberlain (Sharks)
Brilliant awareness and execution of his chip that created a try for Thaakir Abrahams, scored one himself, slipped tackles and put players into space. Ice cool defensively, expertly defusing a chip in the first half and a crosskick in the second.
14: Werner Kok (Sharks)
A ball of energy. Immediately into the action by retaining the kick-off and winning an early breakdown penalty. Made a try-saving tackle/jackal, covered the width of the field on defence and created a try for Chamberlain with a strong hand-off and break.
13: Manuel Rass (Lions)
Had a great game. Energetic and full of hunger as highlighted by his tackle fight when he out-willed two defenders to score the Lions’ third try. Pushed hard for the Man of the Match honours.
12: Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Sharks)
A barnstorming brute. Made something happen every time he touched the ball, including a rare chip and re-gather. Won a penalty on the deck in Ulster’s 22 that led to a try, made a try-saving tackle on Aaron Sexton and retained a box kick.
11: Edwill van der Merwe (Lions)
Set up Sanele Nohamba for a try with electrifying footwork and a good offload and scored one of his own (fortunate that they didn’t have a second look at the grounding). Pity he conceded a yellow card for killing the ball but came back to snatch an important turnover in the 74th minute.
10: Gianni Lombard (Lions)
Regained his confidence after having an off day in the previous game. Drove his team well with good distribution, including a slick try assist for Van der Merwe. Took the ball to the line, kicked 10 points, made an excellent try-saving tackle on Johnny Matthews and another key stop on Scott Cummings.
9: Sanele Nohamba (Lions)
Ran a textbook scrumhalf support line to score, made some dangerous darts and offloads around the fringes of the ruck, was quick and crisp with his service and his penalty kicks into the corners were fantastic.
8: Francke Horn (Lions) – Player of the Week
Full of hustle. That work rate allowed him to be in a position to pounce on a loose ball where after he showed good pace to run in a try from 55m out. Busy on defence, won a penalty on the deck and was a safe pair of hands at the back of the lineout to come away with the Man of the Match award.
7: Emmanuel Tshituka (Lions)
Roamed the field like a lion on the hunt. Made telling carries and tackles and produced a clutch lineout steal on his 5m line while the Lions while down to 14 men to beat out his brother Vincent.
6: Dylan Richardson (Sharks)
A hard man to bring down with ball in hand as he went into contact low and pumped his legs. Spun out of a tackle to provide the momentum for Ntuthuko Mchunu’s try and relentlessly scrapped for the ball, most notably winning a turnover from a maul on his 5m line.
5: Gerbrandt Grobler (Sharks)
Ruled the lineout where his steal resulted in Chamberlain’s try. Was also the Sharks’ main cleaner at the rucks, a gruelling, thankless job where he could’ve done with more help.
4: Ruan Venter (Lions)
A fitting, try-scoring tribute to his father who he lost earlier in the week. Put in some big hits and cried after he forced his way over for his five-pointer.
3: Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Lions)
The 153kg unit didn’t get the reward he should have for his scrum dominance and regularly trucked up the ball.
2: Dan Jooste (Sharks)
Laser accurate with his lineout throwing and a productive ball carrier, setting targets as he did before Grant Williams’ piece of magic. Made some dominant tackles and was a prominent figure at the rucks, cleaning and attempting steals.
1: JP Smith (Lions)
Mchunu dotted down but had an otherwise quiet game. The opposite is true for Smith, who grafted hard on both sides of the ball and did his thing in the scrums.