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FULL-TIME: Who and What Stole the Show – Super Rugby Week 17

Late drama, pin-point tactical kicking and clever use of the bench were the order of the day in round 17 of Super Rugby.

GAME OF THE WEEKEND

Reds vs Blues

No Super Rugby round is complete without the thrills of a come-from-behind victory and that is exactly what we got out of this clash in Brisbane. Trailing 5-21 at the half-hour mark the home side fought back and eventually it was the ultimate Queensland Reds legend, Scott Higginbotham, who scored three minutes from time, along with a good conversion that sealed a one-point victory for the Reds in a dramatic game at Suncorp.

BEST TRY OF THE ROUND

Higginbotham’s 40th Super Rugby score was a beautifully worked one where Samu Kerevi once again sowed off both his power and brilliant off-loading ability. The Brumbies followed their Aussie mates with a strong Kuridrani break leading to a score to inside centre, Simone. There was also a lovely change-of-direction play from the Jaguares for the opening score against the Sharks and of course there were a number of options to pick from with the Crusaders showing off in Christchurch.

But my try of the week goes to the Hurricanes. Laumape sliced through the Lions’ defence with ease early on but my favourite effort came 48 minutes into the game. On this occasion Dan Coles was used from the set piece play to hit the ball up in midfield, just inside the Lions half, before the visitors recycled the ball and a smart little wrap around move involving Lam got the ball to Ardie Savea roaming free in the outside channel. The electrifying loosie set-off on a power run which included treating Elton Jantjies like his personal door mat before walking a tight rope with the touchline and getting his inside pass away just in time to put Lam over for a brilliant try.

MVP

Dane Coles and Ardie Savea. It proved to be a master stroke from Plumtree to have his experienced All Blacks charging on from the bench. Apart from our try of the week (above) Savea pulled of four crucial turnovers for his side – in less than 40 minutes of rugby! Coles was his busy self and racked up two scores. With his first effort he was firstly co-conspirator with a sharp move around the edge of the far touchline and was then rewarded for his never-say-die attitude as he followed through with his effort by opportunistically picking up the unattended ball and getting over the whitewash. Both Kiwi stalwarts had a match winning impact on the game in Johannesburg.

SA TEAM OF ROUND 17

1. Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)
Tasked with leading the troops in the absence of Kolisi he did so in the way the big red head knows best – by scrumming with immense power! Lizo Gqoboka had another strong showing as well.

2. Malcolm Marx (Lions)
Another week another barnstorming effort from the Springbok hooker. Not quite his normal defensive and fetching best but still comfortably better than most others.

3. Trevor Nyakane (Bulls)
The Bulls got the better of the physical battle and this was led by their pack. Nyakane was also busy, making 11 tackles and a few ball carries as well.

4. Jason Jenkins (Bulls)
Not his busiest day in terms of ball carries but Jenkins really got into the thick of things and gave his 110% throughout, bringing his usual physicality to the contest.

5. RG Snyman (Bulls)
The weekly fixture pretty much as permanent as the Eifel Tower. Twelve carries and nine tackles later Snyman was yet again HUGE.

6. Ruan Steenkamp (Bulls)
An incredibly busy outing for the Bulls flanker. His fifteen tackles with a turnover thrown in was an important effort.

7. Johan du Toit (Stormers)
Like his big brother Pieter-Steph, Johan was busy across the park – making an impressive 17 tackles in the game. Four lineouts and eight carries thrown into his collective effort.

8. Jaco Coetzee (Stormers)
Coetzee has had a few impressive outings in his debut season. Apart from his two tries the number eight carried with vigour and also pulled off two crucial steals. Marco van Staden also had a solid outing with an incredible 16 carries in total against the Highlanders.

9. Herschel Jantjies (Stormers)
Sharp effort from the Stormers scrumhalf.

10. Handré Pollard (Bulls)
Not a vintage performance from the Springbok pivot but for someone who was flown out for the occasion he proved why the Bulls were so desperate in getting him in the starting line-up. Controlled the game well.

11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (Lions)
For a second week the young Bok flyer made more than 100 meters against the Hurricanes which included five clean breaks.

12. Burger Odendaal (Bulls)
The burly inside centre was at his industrious best as he did the job designated to him with aplomb on the day.

13. Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)
No one really put their hand up too high at 13 and Am takes the spot for doing a decent job on a tough day for his side.

14. Craig Barry (Stormers)
Nkosi did well in a struggling side but it wasn’t a weekend for the right wingers to crow too loudly about. Barry didn’t put a foot wrong on his first outing in 2019.

15. Divan Rossouw (Bulls)
Coetzee and Leyds were solid but in difficult conditions Rossouw did well to keep his head and put in an impressive effort in Dunedin.

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