The Bulls provide the bulk of our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Jake White’s men were the only South African side to register a win in the third round, pummelling Zebre 54-29 in Parma on Saturday.
It was a Friday night to forget for the coastal sides with the Stormers going down 20-9 to the Warriors in Glasgow and the Sharks losing 19-5 to the Ospreys in the first-ever URC game in London, while the Lions succumbed 15-10 to Benetton in Treviso on Sunday.
Hat-trick hero David Kriel is one of 10 Bulls in our side, a trio of Sharks earned selection with a player apiece from the Stormers and Lions completing our line-up.
15: Devon Williams (Bulls)
The former Pumas playmaker had a ball in Italy. Ran amok, scored the bonus-point try and doubled up with a late second score.
14: Werner Kok (Sharks)
A roaming grafter who gave his all. Broke Toby Fricker’s tackle with his first carry and fended off a few more defenders over the course of the game, had a try assist, made spot tackles and won an excellent jackal just after halftime.
13: Stedman Gans (Bulls)
Such an elusive runner. Asked plenty of questions on attack with his speed and footwork, threatened when he pounced on a loose ball and put Sergeal Petersen in for a try.
12: David Kriel (Bulls) – Player of the Week
Moved from No 13 to inside centre this week and had a massive game. Strong over the advantage line, great line off Zak Burger’s shoulder to slice through and set up Williams for a try, great piece of finishing to score his first try and finished with a hat-trick.
11: Sergeal Petersen (Bulls)
A Bulls debut to savour. Got onto the scoresheet, offloaded to keep play alive and looked for work as highlighted by his try assists for Kriel and Williams on his opposite wing.
10: Johan Goosen (Bulls)
Polished and on point. Pulled the strings and varied his play well, from taking the ball to the line to pinpoint cross kicks, and his 12-point goal-kicking masterclass was vital in keeping the Bulls in front against the die-hard Italians.
9: Zak Burger (Bulls)
A bit slow to clear at times but still the best scrumhalf on show. His break resulted in Petersen’s try and his clever pop led to the bonus-point try.
8: Cameron Hanekom (Bulls)
The impressive rookie showed off his scavenging skills, making no less than three turnovers, along with 100% of his tackles. Strong tackle fight as well and almost scored (held up over the try line).
7: Phepsi Buthelezi (Sharks)
Solid overall showing. Made a clean break, showed good speed to score the Sharks’ only try, strong in the collisions and seized a turnover.
6: James Venter (Sharks)
All action. One of precious few Sharks who had energy and fire, carried relentlessly and defended like a demon – making a team-high 15 tackles.
5: Ruan Nortje (Bulls)
The URC’s inaugural ironman was exactly that, showcasing his motor to get through a mountain of work and claim the Man of the Match award.
4: Ben-Jason Dixon (Stormers)
An absolute workhorse. Led the Stormers’ defensive effort with 18 tackles including a thunderous hit on Oli Kebble and an important tackle on Sione Vailanu.
3: Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Lions)
The 158kg Lions leviathan made a massive impact off the bench, scoring a try to level the scores, doing the business in the scrum, smashing Alessandro Izekor with a thudding tackle and surprisingly stepping a defender at the death.
2: Akker van der Merwe (Bulls)
Patient and powerful at the back of the driving maul to score a brace of tries and busy in open play.
1: Simphiwe Matanzima (Bulls)
Played his part in the dominant Bulls scrum, covered a lot of ground in general play and did particularly good work on defence.