15. Ben Smith (Highlanders)
There’s no stopping this man. He had a wonderful time against the French, came back to Super Rugby and seamlessly slotted back into the fullback position. His name is mentioned continuously throughout the game as he proves to be a major threat every time he gets his hands on the ball.
14. Frank Halai (Blues)
Continues to impress on the attack. He is a try-scoring machine and played a prominent role in the Blues second half fight back. Sadly his double couldn’t pull his team through, but nevertheless, he’ll be licking his lips for the more expansive Cheetahs this coming week.
13. Tamati Ellison (Highlanders)
You’d have to dig very deep in the memory archive to find a better offload than the one that sent Ben Smith over the line for a magical try early in the game against the Crusaders. Ellison’s name was also regularly thrown around by the commentators as he was everywhere on the field, hitting the ball up and generally creating havoc in midfield.
12. Jan Serfontein (Bulls)
Even though both Damian de Allende (Stormers) and Bundee Aki (Chiefs) had strong outings, I thought the young Springbok performed very admirably against the Kings. He loves running straight and has the vision to get the ball away in time to create space outside him; obviously enjoying life at the moment.
11. Telusa Veainu (Crusaders)
Congratulations to Hosea Gear who scored a try in his 100th game, and had I not been so sincerely stunned by the skills displayed by the Crusaders’ unknown pace man, he would’ve sat firmly in this spot. However, when Zac Guildford left the field for Veainu with a mere ten minutes left on the clock, it was clear that he injected some missing sparks to the Saders backline. I am looking forward to seeing more of the fellow who scored a magnificent length-of-the-field try in aid of his team’s essential 5-point victory.
10. Dan Carter (Crusaders)
It seems the master is back to his best, and if anyone still wondered about who the best flyhalf in the world was, Carter clearly stamped down his authority this past weekend. Gone was the conservativeness that sometimes creeps into his game and on full display was a masterful kicker with an eye for the gap which bagged him a try as well as an assist.
9. Francois Hougaard (Bulls)
Obviously being left out in the wilderness is eating away at the young scrumhalf / winger that shone so brightly during the 2011 World Cup and it is quite evident that he is working hard to get that form back. It was refreshing to see him playing his natural instinctive game again, probing snipes around the fringes and a very well varied performance indeed.
8. Matt Vant Leven (Chiefs)
His name is not a household one yet although he is somewhat of a veteran in the game. He hasn’t had many opportunities to prove his worth, but definitely made maximum use of his run out against the Hurricanes. Apart from being solid on defense, he upped the ante with ball in hand, breaking through at least one tackle with every run he made. Topped a Man of the Match performance off with a great opportunistic try.
7. Deon Fourie (Stormers)
It’s been a while since the Stormers loose trio did anything to get them nominated for a spot in the Team of the Week. However, in the absence of Jean de Villiers, he led his team to a shockingly large victory over the Cheetahs and this responsibility seemed to fire him up properly for the clash with Heinrich Brussow. It was without a doubt one of his best performances of the year, rewarded with a well-worked try as well.
6. Jacques Potgieter (Bulls)
A true case of one man’s misfortune is another man’s gain. He’s been out for two months, but with Pierre Spies unavailable, his return was mainstreamed. His work at the breakdown is invaluable and his ball-carrying skills top quality as he consistently gets over the advantage line.
5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
Never one for the limelight, Retallick had another day out doing the dirty work like securing the ball at the line-out and breakdown, basically everything his teammates require him to do in order for them to produce such fluent running rugby. He is just one of those dependable guys that put in the tackles and ensure a good foundation is laid – a truly priceless attribute.
4. Anthony Boric (Blues)
If not for any other reason, the Blues second rower deserves his nomination purely for the effort he made in defence. For during a period in the second half where the Sharks were relentlessly attacking the gain line, the lock put in a mammoth amount of tackles to stop them in their tracks. Had it not been for him fearlessly putting his body on the line, the Blues might well have come away without a bonus point.
3. Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs)
There were quite a few solid scrums on display during Round 18, making it very difficult to separate the best of the best. So for what it is worth, I’ll back the Chiefs tight head as my pick of the number threes – he has become almost as popular as Sona Taumalolo, especially when he finds himself with ball in hand a metre or so from the whitewash. Ben Franks found himself between a rock and a hard place opposite the mammoth prop and the crowd went wild when he forced his large frame over the try line to secure the bonus point victory.
2. Chiliboy Ralepelle (Bulls)
He occupied this space prior to the June Internationals break, and apparently the snubbing he received from Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer didn’t deter him by any means. He hit the ground running as the super season reopened and a memorable try for his team during their rampant execution of the Kings. Ralepelle is in what some might consider the best form of his life as he heads to France at the end of the season.
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)
The Blues suffered in the scrums and a lot of that pressure came as a result of the efforts of the incumbent Springbok loosehead. The Beast was awarded as Man of the Match and deservedly so. He seems to be peaking at just the right time, especially from a South African point of view with the Rugby Championship looming in the not too far distance. He carried the ball well in order to make some valuable ground for his team.
By Jackie Smit