15. Jesse Mogg (Brumbies)
This fullback is making the number 15 Wallaby jersey his own. When he’s not scoring the tries, he has a hand, or foot, in making them. Moggy impressed again with cunning lines and lightning speed allowing him to create havoc in open play. Hats off to Joe Pietersen as well, who had a great day with the boot.
14. Kade Poki (Highlanders)
A week’s rest only served to make this man hungry for tries and he stilled that hunger in emphatic fashion by dotting down three times. The Highlanders flyer did everything he could to help his gobsmacked team regain their composure, but not even his hard hitting runs ad sublime individual efforts could deter the Cheetahs.
13. René Ranger (Blues)
I actually opted for Anthony Fainga’a at one stage, but I just couldn’t force myself not to select the Blues’ mastermind midfielder. Sheer willpower and determination behind every move Ranger made in the end means he edged out the other contenders. Not to mention he yet again crossed the whitewash as the Blues made a late, albeit futile, charge.
12. Damian de Allende (Stormers)
I was hard pushed not to select one of the try scoring inside centres – Ngatai, Crotty, Ebersohn or Saili – but eventually I opted for de Allende who improved significantly and definitely had a match winning impact for the Cape Town men.
11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
Savea claims this spot for the second time in a row with another influential performance in which he also made a powerful run down the wing, beating one defender and handing-off Israel Dagg to score a memorable try. It was hard not to pick Digby Ioane for the tremendous match he had for the Reds, but in a game where every single point mattered, the Hurricanes winger pipped him.
10. Johan Goosen (Cheetahs)
It is as clear as day that when the Goose kicks well, his confidence levels are up and that lifts the entire team. Not only did he slot eight from eight to keep the score board ticking over and the Cheetahs’ tails in the air, his tactical game kept the Highlanders at bay and he is a reliable tackler able to make valuable turn-overs in defence.
9. Sarel Pretorius (Cheetahs)
Super Sarel surely silenced some of his critics as he starred in the Cheetahs’ shocking maiden victory over the Highlanders. It is not just his sniping little runs and eye for a gap that makes him dangerous every time he touches the ball; this week his superb support running also paid off with a brace of tries.
8. Pierre Spies (Bulls)
The captain of the Bulls racked up some good yards with hard running, linking well with the backs. Spies didn’t falter when putting in the big tackles and led from the front. There might yet ring some truth to his earlier claim that he is back to his best form.
7. Pieter Labuschagne (Cheetahs)
One of several outstanding flankers over the weekend. Lappies has been knocking on this door since his first game and this time forced his way in with a phenomenal performance. Not only did he make a massive amount of tackles, but he carried the ball over the advantage line time and again, made breaks and a crucial turnover. Quite possibly the best player of the weekend.
6. Tanerau Latimer (Chiefs)
I had to dig real deep to find a blindside flanker to fill this spot after a weekend ruled by the open-sides. In the end, the Chiefs’ fetcher got the nod for his perfect defensive display and ball-protecting abilities. Other guys that deserve a mention are Siya Kolisi and Marcel Coetzee.
5. Andries Bekker (Stormers)
Obviously a class act and just about back to his best. He took control of the Stormers’ line-out, calling ball upon ball on himself and securing them effortlessly. Bekker worked really hard in the loose; he carried the ball with purpose, ran over and past defenders as well as creating turnovers.
4. De Kock Steenkamp (Stormers)
Flew below the radar in many aspects for large parts of the match, but did his job well enough. It was his devastating line-out steals that got him noticed, as this is where the pressure started to mount on the Chiefs.
3. Ben Afeaki (Chiefs)
Steady as a rock, this hulk of a man refuses to budge from his position in the Team of the Week; this is his third consecutive appearance as he sticks his hand up for All Black selection. He stood his ground in the scrums, solid on defense and notched up a ground-making run or two.
2. Deon Fourie (Stormers)
After some deliberation I had to stick with the versatile Fourie. Started the match as hooker until he got replaced early in the second half only to cool his heels for 10 minutes and then continue on his path of destruction from the side of the scrum. More often than not, he breaks at least on tackle per run to get over the gain-line, and when pops up from the rucks, it is very likely that he turned the ball over.
1.Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been getting grief for not picking the Beast, so here he is. That he conceded two penalties in the scrum is overshadowed by the fact that he earned his team three penalties by completely dominating the Kings’ front row. I still don’t feel that the loosehead plays with the same drive and energy that he used to, but he did a thing or two to get his team over the advantage line.
By Jackie Smit