SARugbymag.co.za picks a team of players who stuck their hands up during the second round of the Rainbow Cup SA this past weekend.
15 Aphelele Fassi
After starring in the opening round against the Stormers, Fassi continued his good form of late against the Lions. Solid under the high ball and constantly threatening on attack, he is making a push to be in the Springbok squad for the Lions series.
14 Sbu Nkosi
Had a quiet outing in the first round, but was heavily involved in the Sharks’ win over the Lions. An excellent performance.
13 Lukhanyo Am
Did very well to lead the Sharks through a difficult period in the second half, where they lost two players to yellow cards in quick succession. Personally, brilliant on defence, being a nuisance at the breakdown.
12 Cornal Hendricks
Another strong performance from the Bulls No 12. Madosh Tambwe aside, the backline player who most threatened the Stormers defence and provided a lovely assist with some quick hands to release his teammate out wide.
11 Madosh Tambwe
Grabbed a brace against the Stormers and could have had a hat-trick if it wasn’t for losing the ball forward from a cross-kick near the tryline. Still, it was another star-quality showing from Tambwe, whose first try was the pick of the round after he ran a good 60 metres and stepped past two defenders to score.
10 Morne Steyn
Further displayed the qualities that have earned him a recall to the Springbok alignment camps. Brilliant when putting boot to ball and found plenty of space in behind the Stormers’ defensive line. Picked up a try assist with a perfectly place crossfield kick to Tambwe.
9 Jaden Hendrikse
Returned from injury via the bench for the Sharks, but had a good impact in the second half, providing crisp and quick service from the base for his team.
8 Duane Vermeulen
A good 60 minutes in his first start since suffering a knee injury that ruled him out of the Preparation Series. Vermeulen was key part of a relentless Bulls defence, co-ordinating his teammates excellently. Took a while to find his feet and get fully stuck in on attack, but came alive in this regard in the final 10 minutes of the first half, making some strong carries and good offloads.
7 Pieter-Steph du Toit
Completed another highly impressive 80 minutes after returning from his long-term leg injury in the first round. Du Toit was everywhere for the Stormers, making powerful carries, big hits and almost had the telling touch, but his pass near the Bulls tryline was intercepted. His work rate is something to behold.
6 Marco van Staden
Will be joining the Leicester Tigers later this year, but this is exactly the kind of performance the Bulls will be missing when he goes. Van Staden was not only a typical menace at the breakdown, but combined very well with Vermeulen on defence. Had some good carries forward as well.
5 Ruan Nortje
Another highly mature performance from the 22-year-old. With the Stormers losing lineout general Marvin Orie to injury in the first half, Nortje terrorised the home side in this department. Together with second-row partner Walt Steenkamp made some vital steals in the final 20 minutes of the match.
4 Reniel Hugo
After becoming a surprising hat-trick hero against the Stormers, Hugo once again showed his quality against the Lions in Johannesburg. The Sharks second rower has clearly done plenty of work on his conditioning as he worked his socks off for his side.
3 Thomas du Toit
With Ox Nche, part of a Sharks scrum that dominated the Lions. Scored a try in what should be a confidence booster before what could be a tough test against the Bulls.
2 Bongi Mbonambi
The Stormers’ lineout struggles aside (which was more complicated to solely blame Mbonambi’s throwing), the Springbok hooker put in a strong hour on the park. Carried very well for his side from the get-go, giving the Stormers plenty of momentum. Made some good hits on defence as well.
1 Ox Nche
Stood firm against the Stormers’ Frans Malherbe in the first round, but utterly outscrummed the Lions’ Carlu Sadie in the second round. This was another performance that put to bed the notion that Nche’s weakness lies in the set piece. Didn’t lack for impactful carries, either.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images