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SA United Rugby Championship Team of the Week – Round 13

Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi fired on all cylinders on a weekend of mixed results for the South African teams in the United Rugby Championship, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

URC

Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi fired on all cylinders on a weekend of mixed results for the South African teams in the United Rugby Championship, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

The coastal sides picked up wins, while the Gauteng outfits fell short.

The Sharks made it two wins in a row with a 23-13 victory over Edinburgh in Durban before the Stormers willed their way to a 13-7 win over Ulster in Cape Town.

Leinster showed why they’re the log leaders with an emphatic 47-14 win over the Bulls in Dublin while the Lions suffered a 36-21 defeat to the Ospreys in Swansea.

The Sharks lead the way in our Team of the Week with seven representatives. The Bulls and Lions have three representatives apiece and a pair of Stormers complete our line-up.

15: Aphelele Fassi (Sharks) – Player of the Week

An obvious pick for Man of the Match, “The Weekend Special” was in his element. Lit up Kings Park with a piece of individual brilliance to draw first blood for the Sharks and continued to entertain. Beautiful try assist and 50:22 and posted match-high numbers in successful carries (9), defenders beaten (5), clean breaks (4) and metres (139).

14: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls)

Caused Leinster all sorts of problems. Showed his speed to score his first try and proved that dynamite comes in small packages when he bounced Rob Russell. Made two clean breaks and a team-high 87 metres and was unfortunate to have his second try disallowed.

13: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)

An awesome all-around contributor. Did very well to dot down with two defenders on him and made telling defensive contributions.

12: Francois Venter (Sharks)

In the thick of the action. Used his power and pop pass to good effect, was ultra-physical on defence, including blasting Duhan van der Merwe into touch, and won two turnovers.

11: Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks)

The veteran’s work rate was remarkable. Popped up everywhere, ran hard, was tough to wrestle down to the ground, varied his play with a good attacking kick and made 100% of his tackles.

10: Johan Goosen (Bulls)

The best of a disappointing bunch, Goosen slotted three penalty goals – two from a long way out – and created the Bulls’ only try.

9: Morne van den Berg (Lions)

That a replacement cracked the nod tells you what a poor weekend it was from the No.9s. Van den Berg injected pace and accuracy into the Lions to help them come alive and fire more shots.

8: Phepsi Buthelezi (Sharks)

Brought power and intensity in spades. Exploded over the gain line with regularity, demonstrated good tackle fight and was rewarded with a cracking try.

7: Emmanuel Tshituka (Lions)

A tireless all-court contributor. Led the Lions in successful carries (6), offloads (2) and tackles (20). Won a turnover in the 22 and came close to scoring, denied only by some desperate defence over the try line.

6: James Venter (Sharks)

A hard-nosed scrapper who rolled up his sleeves and did the hard yards. Good first-step explosion into contact, forceful and everywhere on defence and threw a spanner in the works at the breakdown.

5: Ruben van Heerden (Stormers)

Continued his rich vein of form with a Man of the Match performance. His motor is so impressive and it proved vital in the tight arm-wrestle. A workhorse, including being his team’s top tackler (12) and a prominent cleaner, plus he stole two of Ulster’s lineouts.

4: Salmaan Moerat (Stormers)

The Stormers skipper led by example, particularly on defence, where he was omnipresent and threw his body around. Good physicality in the trenches.

3: Wilco Louw (Bulls)

A juggernaut at work. Decimated Leinster at scrum time in the first half, winning two penalties, one of which earned the Bulls three points. Strong pillar defender and slowed the ball down at the breakdown.

2: PJ Botha (Lions)

Good in all aspects. Put JP Smith into a gap with a clever pop pass, snatched a turnover and scored a crucial try to get the Lions on the board just before halftime.

1: Ox Nche (Sharks)

“The Cake Boss” feasted in the scrums, winning three penalties, and was big in general play as well. Good hands, impressive offloading ability, quick off the line on defence and made a team-high 10 tackles, including absolutely smashing Hamish Watson.

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 SARugby.com and senior staff writer at Rugby365.com, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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