ANDRE-PIERRE CRONJE takes a look back at some of the standout performers in this past weekend’s Currie Cup semi-finals.
A week ago Bulls coach Jake White surprised many by picking rookie Stravino Jacobs to start against the Pumas. Clearly impressed by his performance, White selected Jacobs to start again this week in the playoffs. The 20-year-old Paarl Gim old-boy repaid the faith with a match-winning display that included two tries.
Jacobs has long been held in high regard by those that follow school and age group-rugby in South Africa. He shone in a Bulls team that romped to victory in the U21 Championship last year and has made the transition to the senior side seamlessly.
With ball in hand Jacobs looked consistently threatening against the Lions and made good use of his physicality to dominate in the contact zone. In scoring his tries he demonstrated some of the instincts that will make him a lethal finisher.
The Vodacom Bulls wing did, however, lose the ball in contact over the tryline after looking to ground it with the incorrect hand. These are the fine margins that he will learn to get right with experience. Jacobs may be raw but his talent is undeniable and Saturday provided a glimpse of what is sure to be a glittering future.
Notshe’s star has continued to rise since his move to Durban and Saturday’s semi-final was further proof of the extent to which he’s progressed. The former WP man showed there was no love lost between him and his previous side with a physical performance.
Although a hallmark of Notshe’s play has always been his agility and speed, on Saturday the eighthman proved he could also mix it with the big boys. In a game that was chiefly contested between the two packs, Notshe stood out with some aggressive carries over the gainline and thundering hits on defence.
It was the type of abrasive outing that will go some way to silencing critics who say he is not physical enough to play at Test level.
Despite starting the match on the bench, Jaden Hendrikse laid down a strong claim for a starting berth in next week’s final after an impressive display against Western Province.
The young scrumhalf replaced Sanele Nohamba for the second half and had an immediate impact for the Sharks. He injected some sorely needed pace into the game and made a number of sniping half-breaks. Had his support runners been sharper, he could well have created some scoring opportunities.
Hendrikse also succeeded in making a nuisance of himself around the scrum (an area where the Sharks had a tough day at the office) constantly disrupting WP ball. Although he conceded a few penalties, it was nevertheless encouraging to see his intent.