JON CARDINELLI picks a South African XV based on performances in the first round of the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
The Vodacom Bulls produced a complete performance to thrash the Stormers 40-3 in Pretoria on Saturday, while the Sharks cruised to a 45-10 win against the Sunwolves in Singapore. The Lions beat the Jaguares 25-16 to break their duck in Buenos Aires.
Bearing all this mind, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to note which teams – and which team in particular – contribute to the list of names below. No Stormers were selected after the Cape side’s limp showing at Loftus Versfeld.
The toughest selections were at centre, in the back row, and at hooker. Special mention should go to Lukhanyo Am, Dan du Preez, Ruan Steenkamp, Akker van der Merwe and Schalk Brits. In the end, these players were overshadowed by stronger performers in the matches in Pretoria and Buenos Aires.
Marnus Schoeman scored three tries off the back of a strong Lions set piece against the Jaguares. Malcolm Marx and Carlu Sadie made key contributions for the Lions on defence and in the scrum. Harold Vorster had a strong game in midfield.
Jesse Kriel was outstanding for the Bulls at outside centre. No 8 Duane Vermeulen was hugely influential for his side at the lineouts, breakdowns and collisions.
Rosko Specman enjoyed a memorable Super Rugby debut for the Bulls, scoring two tries. Warrick Gelant shone on attack and with the tactical boot.
Embrose Papier and Handré Pollard took some great options behind a dominant pack, and the latter produced a flawless goal-kicking performance to finish the game with 20 points.
The Bulls disrupted the Stormers set piece and secured all of their own lineouts. Lood de Jager and Jason Jenkins deserve credit – and it should be noted that Jenkins was heavily involved in the attack and even contributed five passes.
The Sharks should be lauded for their dominant scrummaging performance against the Sunwolves. Beast Mtawarira was particularly destructive at this set piece.
SA TEAM OF THE WEEK (ROUND 1)
15. Warrick Gelant (Bulls)
14. S’bu Nkosi (Sharks)
13. Jesse Kriel (Bulls)
12. Harold Vorster (Lions)
11. Rosko Specman (Bulls)
10. Handré Pollard (Bulls)
9. Embrose Papier (Bulls)
8. Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
7. Hanro Liebenberg (Bulls)
6. Marnus Schoeman (Lions)
5. Lood de Jager (Bulls)
4. Jason Jenkins (Bulls)
3. Carlu Sadie (Lions)
2. Malcolm Marx (Lions)
1. Beast Mtawarira (Sharks)
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix