Gauteng stars make up two-thirds of our South African United Rugby Championship Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for the South African sides in Europe with the Bulls and Lions winning narrowly and the Sharks and Stormers succumbing in equally tightly contested affairs.
The Bulls beat Cardiff 18-12 in the Welsh capital while the Lions snatched a last-gasp 24-23 victory over the Scarlets in Llanelli to break their duck.
The Stormers were tripped up by Benetton in Treviso, losing 20-17, and the Sharks’ woes worsened as they went down 12-10 to a Zebre team who’d entered the encounter in Parma on a 28-match losing streak.
The Bulls and Lions each contribute five players to our team, three Sharks earned selection and a pair of Stormers complete our side.
15: Quan Horn (Lions)
In what was a very tactical, territory-based affair, Horn was a rock under the high ball and gained good ground with his educated left boot. He also produced two turnovers, one of which was a try-saving intercept.
14: Sebastian de Klerk (Bulls)
The former Pumas speedster pounced on a loose ball to run in a long-range try, almost had a second in the second half, made a vital tackle on Mason Grady and made no less than four turnovers.
13: Henco van Wyk (Lions)
“Weapon X” put in great work. Phenomenal on defence – a real strength of his game – made two clean breaks and scored the match-winning try.
12: Marius Louw (Lions)
Quick-thinking to score an opportunistic try that woke up his team, powerful ball carrier who made good post-contact metres (a team-high 49) and tackled his heart out, including making a thunderous tackle on the impressive Ioan Lloyd.
11: Courtnall Skosan (Stormers)
His great aerial contest resulted in the Stormers’ opening try, he scored their second and made two good, dominant spot tackles (100% success rate for the match). Had to be included, hence his shift to the left wing.
10: Sanele Nohamba (Lions)
Not perfect by any means but his accurate goal-kicking was huge, his Man of the Match performance including three conversions and a penalty goal. Came alive in the second half with a couple of sniping breaks and offloads and cleverly milked the clock before popping over the match-clinching conversion.
9: Embrose Papier (Bulls)
Scored arguably the try of the weekend, nearly bagged a second just after halftime, launched pinpoint box kicks and good exit kicks and was a livewire on defence, making two tackles in a row on one occasion.
8: Francke Horn (Lions)
Made a couple of good runs in the trams, showcased his footwork, strength and athleticism to beat a team-high three defenders and it was his late jackal that put the Lions in a position to win the game.
7: Phepsi Buthelezi (Sharks)
A no-thrills workhorse. In what was a good showcase of his physicality and motor, Buthelezi made 10 carries as the go-to target setter and 11 tackles.
6: Nizaam Carr (Bulls) – Player of the Week
Full of energy and enterprise, the Bulls captain put in a big shift. Led his team on both fronts with six successful carries and 16 tackles with a 100% success rate.
5: Ruben van Heerden (Stormers)
Popped up everywhere and made a match-high 14 tackles. Impactful with ball in hand as well, making a Stormers-best five successful carries and executed a slick chicken-wing offload to Lee-Marvin Mazibuko.
4: Corne Rahl (Sharks)
Industrious performance that showed his potential. Rampaging early break, brilliantly burgled a maul turnover and stole a Zebre lineout near his 22.
3: Wilco Louw (Bulls)
The Springbok’s class shone through in a Man of the Match performance. Dominated at scrum time, made a number of strong leg-driving carries and put in some big hits.
2: Dylan Richardson (Sharks)
Made an immense impact. Made a team-high 57 metres and beat three defenders, won a textbook jackal, made a match-high 19 tackles including a try-saving effort on Enrico Lucchin, a storming break and nailed his jumpers at lineout time.
1: Gerhard Steenekamp (Bulls)
A super-sub of note. Coming on at the start of the second half, the Bok behemoth won no less than three scrum penalties to give his side valuable field position in a tense final 40 minutes.