SARugbymag.co.za picks a team of players who stuck their hands up during the first round of the Rainbow Cup SA this past weekend.
15 Damian Willemse
Another good outing at fullback from Willemse, who is looking more at home in the No 15 jersey. He was solid under the high ball, kicked well out of hand and scored a try to get his side back into the contest.
14 Edwill van der Merwe
Van der Merwe came alive during the closing stages of the match against the Sharks. Produced an acrobatic assist for Willemse’s try.
13 Wandisile Simelane
Simelane was one of only a couple of Lions players who looked like they might produce something on attack against the Bulls. Whenever touching the ball, he looked like making something happen and kept the Bulls defence on its toes.
12 Cornal Hendricks
It was another classy performance from the Bulls centre, even though conditions didn’t necessarily give him the chance to open things up. Still managed to produce some strong carries in midfield.
11 Madosh Tambwe
Worked his socks off for the full 80 minutes and always looked capable of breaking the Lions’ defensive line. Unfortunate to have a deserved try ruled out due to an earlier infringement.
10 Morne Steyn
While teammate Chris Smith scored a wonderful try, it was Steyn who made a big impact when he came off the bench in the second half. Using his experience, he took control of the game tactically and helped the Bulls stretch their lead.
9 Grant Williams
Somewhat surprisingly named ahead of Sanele Nohamba in the Sharks starting lineup, but showed why he is highly rated in Durban. Helped his team speed up the game in the second half and produced a sensational linebreak in the buildup to lock Reniel Hugo’s third try.
8 Nizaam Carr
Workmanlike performance from the stand-in Bulls captain. Conditions didn’t allow him to open up with ball in hand as he would have wanted to.
7 Elrigh Louw
Tough call between Louw and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who played the full 80 minutes in an excellent return from injury. Scored a deserved last-minute try, dragging four defenders with him over the line, which typified his performance on Saturday night.
6 Nama Xaba
Xaba was singled out by Stormers coach John Dobson for his performance. Not only terrorised the Sharks at the breakdown, but also made a number of strong carries. His presence has changed the balance of the Stormers back row for the better.
5 Reniel Hugo
Not often that a tight-five forward scores a hat-trick of tries. Hugo made himself an unlikely hero for the Sharks, having the decisive say in the scoreline. Worked incredibly hard for his side, even though he did struggle in the lineouts.
4 JJ van der Mescht
Came off the bench in the second half for the Sharks, but made himself a nuisance by shutting down the Stormers’ attempts to maul the ball forward.
3 Carlu Sadie
Jannie du Plessis was picked ahead of him to start, but Sadie’s performance should prompt a rethink by the Lions coaching staff. Dominated the Bulls in his first scrum on the field and never lost that momentum.
2 Fez Mbatha
The 21-year-old’s star keeps shining with another excellent performance, this time against two Springboks in Scarra Ntubeni and Bongi Mbonambi. Scored a first-half try.
1 Ox Nche
Did well to hold his own in the scrums against Frans Malherbe, but was also typically active with his support running when the game opened up in the second half.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix