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SA United Rugby Championship Team Of The Week

The Bulls dodged a bullet when they edged a dogged Lions side 30-28 in a cliffhanger of a United Rugby Championship catch-up match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Embrose Papier

The Bulls dodged a bullet when they edged a dogged Lions side 30-28 in a cliffhanger of a United Rugby Championship catch-up match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Little separated the sides in a scintillating Jukskei Derby that saw both teams score three tries. After Johan Goosen had slotted a go-ahead penalty with two minutes left on the clock, the Lions had one last bite at the cherry, however, Jordan Hendrikse’s long-range effort went wide.

Our South African Team of the Week reflect how tight things were with eight Bulls and seven Lions earning selection.

15: Quan Horn (Lions)

There was no magic from Willie le Roux this time around. Horn, on the other hand, delivered a great chicken wing offload to put Marius Louw over for the first try and he was in the top five for running metres (54).

14: Sebastian de Klerk (Bulls)

Made some darting runs and chased with complete commitment. Richard Kriel ripped the ball out of Elrigh Louw’s hands close to his tryline and retained a box kick but conceded the decisive penalty.

13: Henco van Wyk (Lions)

Managed to find space under pressure, beating both Harold Vorster and Goosen in the best of his carries, and made the most tackles by a backline player (12). Meanwhile, David Kriel had a quiet game and coughed up a try.

12: Marius Louw (Lions)

“Mr Reliable”, as Gcobani Bobo called him on commentary, led from the front. Great support play to score the opening try and bagged his second inside the first 20 minutes. Made a match-high 78 metres and was strong on defence, too, including making a solid tackle on Marco van Staden.

11: Sergeal Petersen (Bulls)

Quite simply, he outworked Edwill van der Merwe by injecting himself into the action.

10: Sanele Nohamba (Lions)

A showcase of his vision and well-rounded skillset. Brilliant counter-attack to spark the electrifying opening try, classy 50:22, clever, quick-thinking drop-goal and made a try-saving intercept. Scored 10 points in all.

9: Embrose Papier (Bulls) – Player of the Week

His contestable box kicks caused the Lions all sorts of problems, showed good anticipation and hands to score an opportunistic try and created a try-scoring opportunity with a break from a scrum in a Man of the Match performance.

8: Mpilo Gumede (Bulls)

Impressed with his ability to make post-contact metres, exploded off the back of a scrum to power over for his first URC try and added some soft hands.

7: Elrigh Louw (Bulls)

A cut above the rest as far as powerful ball carriers go. Such a dominator, breaking tackles and rumbling for a team-high 59 metres. Stepped Francke Horn in the trams to boot and made a turnover on his tryline.

6: Hanru Sirgel (Lions)

A no-nonsense workhorse who put his body on the line. Made 12 tackles and was a menace at the breakdown, where he snatched a turnover just after halftime.

5: Ruan Nortje (Bulls)

A tireless effort by the Bulls captain, who worked as hard in the last minute as he did in the first. Competed for box kicks in the air, where he retained one, on top of performing his lock duties.

4: Deon Slabbert (Bulls)

Very athletic for a No. 4. Covered good ground, stole one of the Lions’ lineouts and brought the physicality you’d expect.

3: Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Lions)

The 153kg gargantuan gave the Lions the upper hand at scrum time, winning two penalties, and put in a big shift on defence. Sent Petersen flying with a smashing hit.  

2: Akker van der Merwe (Bulls)

“The Angry Warthog” was on the loose. Burrowed over for the Bulls’ first try and made a number of other telling carries. Seasoned maul management as well. 

1: JP Smith (Lions)

Strong in the scrums, where a penalty he forced earned the Lions three points, and made a memorable run down the left wing.

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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