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FULL-TIME: Who and What Stole the Show – Super Rugby Week 4

Here’s what rugby fans should be talking about next to the water cooler after another scintillating round of Vodacom Super Rugby…

GAME OF THE WEEKEND

Hurricanes vs Highlanders

In damp, blustery conditions a tight Kiwi derby still produced six tries and plenty of drama and excitement. The Canes were the dominant team in the opening half but had to wait for a score on the stroke of half time to give them the lead at the break. With the wind at their backs the Highlanders started the second forty with a bang and seemed on course for an important away victory as they turned a six-point deficit into an eight-point advantage with less than a quarter of the game left to play. But the home side kept their composure and were able to escape with the victory after a Beauden Barrett penalty as the siren sounded.

BEST TRY OF THE ROUND

The Bulls finished the game with finesse but this mention goes to the back-hand exhibition form the Crusaders. Jack Goodhue twice implemented the back-hand offload to put players away and Havili also came off the bench and copied his All Black centre team mate. Of course, if you’re willing to look past merely Super Rugby then do yourself a favour and look up Selwyn Davids’ extreme football skills in the Vancouver Sevens.

MVP

Everyone knew he had the talent but Handré Pollard is finally busy taking the step up from good to world class. Like a top pivot should Pollard is the maestro conducting this Bulls team into a harmonious orchestra at present.

SA TEAM OF ROUND 4

1. Dylan Smith (Lions)
Another test of the Lions tight five strength saw the home side absolutely demolish the Argentines at scrum time. Apart from this Smith was busy with ball in hand as well.

2. Akker van der Merwe (Sharks)
“Oom” Schalk continues to not only hold pace with the younger players behind him but lead the way in terms of how to be a handful with ball in hand whilst also doing his basics with precision (the stuff-up of the quick tap the only thing which cost him his place this week). Malcolm Marx deserves a mention for his strongest game of the season thus far. But Akker wins it for his efforts in a losing cause – not a single lost lineout against an opponent known for their lineout expertise as well as more runs and meters gained than both Marx and Brits.

3. Trevor Nyakane (Bulls)
A close call between Sadie and Trevor sees the Bulls tighthead get the nod as he was able to comfortably handle the Beast, his direct opponent on the day, when many expected him to struggle against the Springbok legend.

4. Hanro Liebenberg (Bulls)
Adapted to the switch to lock with ease. Busy across the park in terms of carries as well as defensive work.

5. Jason Jenkins (Bulls)
Jenkins did the dirty work, but he did it well and added plenty of physicality which proved the Sharks undoing on the day. Knocking on the Springbok door harder and harder.

6. Marnus Schoeman (Lions)
Does Schoeman have an identical twin?? It feels that way since it often seems as if there is more than one of him on the park – he is everywhere including over the whitewash.

7. Vincent Tshituka (Lions)
One of the more impressive Super Rugby debuts. Tshituka proved a constant threat across the park.

8. Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
It was a battle royal between Thor and Dan Dup. Du Preez scored a try and carried the ball with aggression for the entire 80 minutes but Vermeulen has a bigger defensive presence. He sets the example up front and the rest follow, and boy did he set the bar high on Saturday.

9. Ivan van Zyl (Bulls)
Nothing flashy from Van Zyl but his service was crisp enough and his kicking mostly accurate.

10. Handré Pollard (Bulls)
The MVP of the round as far as we are concerned. Nothing more to say here.

11. Rosko Speckman (Bulls)
The Sevens star is still going strong! Another sublime showing of fast footwork and neat finishing by the winger.

12. André Esterhuizen (Sharks)
Relegated to the bench, Esterhuizen was the catalyst for a big Sharks revival in the second half (though with little effect in the end). Clearly keen on making a point the big centre put in as many runs and defenders beaten as all of the other South African midfielders barring Simelane – and that in a mere 30 minutes of game time.

13. Wandisile Simelane (Lions)
The Lions youngster has shown South African fans some of his class and potential before and took it to another level against the Jaguares. The man with the deadly step left seven defenders in his wake and made an impressive 120 meters with ball in hand.

14. Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
We saw his heart was well and truly in this return over the last few weeks but against the Sharks he showed that the pace and physicality has also not completely disappeared as yet. He was very unlucky not to get his first Super Rugby try since returning to the game.

15. Warrick Gelant (Bulls)
Another solid showing from Gelant. A tad quieter than usual but this is not always a bad thing for a fullback as it meant he was getting the job done without too much flash and funny business. Played a vital role in Specman’s first try against the Sharks.

Why not let us know who you thought should be in our team of the week in our comments section below.

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