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FULL-TIME: Who and What Stole the Show – Super Rugby Week 18

We started the weekend with plenty of questions regarding the knockout match contenders. Some of the answers given were ruthless! Here’s what stood out from the last full week of Super Rugby action in 2019…

GAME OF THE WEEKEND

Bulls vs Lions

It was everything to play for in Pretoria as the Bulls and the Lions clashed. Whilst the Bulls couldn’t really miss out of the playoffs the Lions needed at least one log point, but given the opposition looking ahead nothing but a win was required from both teams. The Lions started with a bang as Hacjivah Dayimani was gone in 60 seconds (or actually a lot less than that) for a scorching opening score. After this fiery start by the visitors the Bulls had things all their own way for the remainder of the opening quarter of the game as they racked up four tries in this period. The Lions came roaring back in the early part of the second stint and the match was hanging in the balance at 31-27 with the hour mark approaching. A special try by Cornal Hendricks got the Bulls’ flow back and they finished with a flourish in what was a highly entertaining affair.

BEST TRY OF THE ROUND

We saw to great lock efforts this past weekend. After a bash up in midfield, just inside their own half, the ball was shipped to Guido Petti who proceeded to break the line and then swerve two more would-be Jap defender before being reigned in – but he still had enough time and the presence to hit Juan Cruz with the final offload. The second one came at the Westpac Stadium. Fletcher-Smith ran onto a clever chip and offloaded to big second rower Isaia Walker-Leawere who came charging through in support. The big man stepped inside an attempted SBW tackle and then pumped his legs to get over the line. Go you good thing!!

But my try of the week came from the Chiefs. The Kiwis opened the scoring against the Rebels with a brilliant score. Quade Cooper stabbed an attacking grubber through into the 22-meter area with his midfielders looking to run onto a favourable bounce. Instead Debreczeni covered well and ran the ball back with intent. The flyhalf fed Anton Lienert-Brown and then Brad Weber carried the breakout further into the opposition’s quarter. Impressively tighthead, Angus Taavao did incredibly well to be on hand before feeding Sam Cane with the final pass.

MVP

It was surprising that Marco van Staden didn’t need to be carried off the field after his efforts against the Lions at Loftus. With 58 meters from 15 strong ball carries he was a busy man. But even more importantly than this the bustling Bulls fetcher made 12 tackles and turned over possession on three occasions. We talk about putting your body on the line – this was the perfect example.

SA TEAM OF ROUND 18

1. Mzamo Majola (Sharks)
Thrust into having to fill the big boots of the Beast at short notice the young prop did a stellar job. Just about held his own in the scrum but was very busy in the loose with 10 carries and got busy making tackles (putting in eleven hits and not missing any). It was a good weekend for SA props as Kitshoff led his team well whilst Gqoboka was immense yet again.

2. Kerron van Vuuren (Sharks)
Marx still had a steal and an impressive carry or two but compared to his usual herculean efforts this was a tame outing from the Springbok hooker – his lineouts also didn’t have the best night out. Van Vuuren has really stepped up for the Sharks and performed like a senior pro instead of the inexperienced youngster that he is.

3. Trevor Nyakane (Bulls)
Another busy all-round performance from Trevor who did his primary job well but was also busy as always around the park.

4. Ruben van Heerden (Sharks)
Good day at the office for the big man in the centre of the scrum for the Sharks. Double figures in terms of both carries and tackles.

5. Hyron Andrews (Sharks)
Ditto to what was said of his partner above. Also stole one lineout ball. Snyman’s yellow cost him his selection.

6. Marco van Staden (Bulls)
Top performance from the hard as nails Bulls flanker. Our MVP for this round.

7. Tyler Paul (Sharks)
Big bruising performance from the big flanker. Made more than 30 meters from his 11 carries, beating four defenders. There was also a turnover thrown in for good measure. With an impressive 17 tackles Johan du Toit also stepped up in a big way whilst Hanro Liebenberg was strong as well.

8. Dan du Preez (Sharks)
With 18 carries no one took the ball up more than the Sharks number eight this weekend. The ultra-physical Du Preez also won a turnover and out in 10 tackles.

9. Ross Cronje (Lions)
In a struggling Lions side Cronje led the charge in trying to dictate the pace at which the game is played and getting his team on the front foot and back in the game.

10. Handré Pollard (Bulls)
Had a relatively quiet day for the opening hour or so, but still controlled the game well for the Bulls. Toward the end he scored one five-pointer himself and put Libbok away for a good score.

11. Rosko Specman (Bulls)
A whole host of Lions players will have to watch the tape of the game to try and determine where and how Rosko left them for dead but what was even more impressive was the attitude with which the speedster got back in defence and chased kicks – putting his body on the line. Top effort.

12. Burger Odendaal (Bulls)
Barring Kotze all the centres missed more than one tackle but Odendaal was solid in executing his duties as carrier.

13. Johnny Kotze (Bulls)
The Bulls 13 was Johnny on the spot against the Lions. He had big shoes to fill in the absence of Jesse Kriel but Kotze has held his own throughout the season, whenever and wherever the men in blue have called on him.

14. Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
At 30 he is still far from over the hill and despite not having the outright pace of some of the other youngster you showed he still has clever feet and street smarts. Hendricks looked like he turned back the dial against the Lions and his try was a beautiful individual effort and also came at a crucial time to re-ignite the Bulls – a good long pass from Pollard found the right winger out wide and he skinned his direct defender with a smart in-out before pinning his ears back for the whitewash. A try any winger would be proud of.

15. Warrick Gelant (Bulls)
Not a spot-less performance from the fullback but he provides plenty of creativity for the Bulls from the back and made loads of running meters bring the ball back.

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