JON CARDINELLI picks a South African XV based on performances in round 11 of Super Rugby.
The Stormers were the only South African side to win a match this past weekend. The Cape side scored four tries in their 34-18 victory over the Rebels.
Meanwhile, the Lions were convincingly beaten by the Reds in Brisbane, and a late lapse cost the Bulls an important win over the Highlanders in Pretoria.
Eight Stormers players are included in this edition of SA Team of the Week. Six Bulls impressed in a losing cause at Loftus, while one Lion caught the eye during the latter stages of the game at Suncorp Stadium.
Some might question the call to select Handré Pollard at No 10. To be fair, the decision wasn’t easy, given Damian Willemse’s rousing performance against the Rebels.
The Stormers flyhalf threw a beautiful long pass to set up a try for JJ Engelbrecht in the first half. Over the course of the game, the 19-year-old took the ball to the line and held his ground on defence.
However, as Stormers coach Robbie Fleck admitted afterwards, Willemse is still learning his craft as a distributor and game manager. It may be some time yet before he is in the same class as Pollard or Elton Jantjies as a player who can dictate the flow of a contest.
Pollard impressed in the Bulls’ narrow loss to the Highlanders. He contributed with a fine defensive read that resulted in a try at the other end of the park. Overall, he marshalled his troops well on attack and defence. The pass that set up Jesse Kriel for a try in the second half was a beauty.
Thembelani Bholi earns selection on the back of a good showing with ball in hand and at the lineout. Lood de Jager continues to impress at the set pieces, while Lizo Gqoboka made his mark at the scrums and around the park.
Kobus van Dyk (20 tackles), Pieter-Steph du Toit (16) and Siya Kolisi (15) all got through a lot of defensive work in the game at Newlands. Damian de Allende was the standout for the Stormers, though – especially on attack – and was unlucky not to be named Man of the Match.
The Lions scored four tries in the last 30 minutes of the game in Brisbane. Malcolm Marx produced an improved display – particularly at the set pieces – during this period, and was rewarded with two tries.
SA TEAM OF THE WEEK (ROUND 11)
15. Warrick Gelant (Bulls)
14. Dillyn Leyds (Stormers)
13. Jesse Kriel (Bulls)
12. Damian de Allende (Stormers)
11. JJ Engelbrecht (Stormers)
10. Handré Pollard (Bulls)
9. Dewaldt Duvenage (Stormers)
8. Thembelani Bholi (Bulls)
7. Kobus van Dyk (Stormers)
6. Siya Kolisi (Stormers)
5. Lood de Jager (Bulls)
4. Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers)
3. Wilco Louw (Stormers)
2. Malcolm Marx (Lions)
1. Lizo Gqoboka (Bulls)
Photo: Ryan Wilisky/BackpagePix