South African European Champions Cup

Sharks master Jaden Hendrikse headlines our South African European Champions Cup Team of the Week, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

It was a perfect weekend for the South African sides in the European showpiece. Saturday saw the Sharks seal their spot in the Round of 16 with a 32-3 bonus-point win over Bordeaux in Durban and the Bulls bank maximum points in their 39-28 victory over the Exeter Chiefs in Pretoria.

The Stormers completed the clean sweep in Brentford on Sunday afternoon, easing to a 28-14 bonus-point win over 13-man London Irish. The Sharks and Bulls both have seven representatives in our side, leaving just one place for a Stormers star.

15 Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls)

Bounced around Loftus like a squash ball in a Man of the Match showing. His speed was key in Kriel’s try from turnover ball and he stretched the Exeter defense all evening. Pity his pass did n’t go to hand after he pierced the line with a Cheslin Kolbe-like handoff.

14: Marnus Potgieter (Sharks)

Bagged a brace after nearly catching Bordeaux napping with hard chasing to dot down on the deadball line, which highlighted his work rate. A physical presence and made a good tackle on Madosh Tambwe in a one-on-one situation.

13: Wandisile Simelane (Bulls)

The ultimate opportunist. Great soccer skills to score his first try and good hands to snatch an intercept and run in his second from inside his half. A textbook try assist for David Kriel and showcased his dancing feet when he broke from the base.

12: Dan du plessis (Stormers)

Punched the ball up well to give the Stormers go-forward, ran good lines, and also displayed some football skills to hack ahead his own kick for Angelo Davids to score the bonus-point try.

11 David Kriel (Bulls)

Summed up the situation quickly to cut inside and finish off the counter-attacking try, put his boot to good use as well with a great touch-finder, and put in a big hit on Jack Nowell, whom he’d handed off earlier to score.

10: Lionel Cronje (Sharks)

A late replacement for Curwin Bosch and slotted in seamlessly to ensure the Sharks didn’t skip a beat. Good vision and distribution as the Durbanites ran in five tries and kicked well, both at goal and out of hand.

9: Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks) – Player Of The Week

A virtuoso at work. Two sniping tries, doing very well to turn in contact to touch down the first, and no-look grubbers that set alarm bells off were among the moments of magic in his Man of the Match performance.

8: Elrigh Louw (Bulls)

A smashing machine for a second successive week. A blunt-force bruiser who took names, powered over for a try, initiated old-school tap-and-go plays, and made his mark in the lineout, where he poached one on the hour mark.

7: Nizaam Carr (Bulls)

Grabbed his starting opportunity with both hands. Brilliant at the breakdown, where he piled a number of turnovers, and a tremendous link between the forwards and backs.

6: Siya Kolisi (Sharks)

It’s fitting that the Sharks skipper led his side in terms of running riot. He had a field day with ball in hand, running over would-be tacklers and setting up teammates. His pick-up and offload of him to put Potgieter in for his first time were phenomenal.

5: Gerbrandt Groler (Sharks)

Delivered in every department. He ruled the roost in the lineout, including creating a scoring opportunity with a steal in Bordeaux’s 22 in the 18th minute and scored the Sharks’ third try.

4: Ruan Vermaak (Bulls)

A force of nature. He smashed the Chiefs in every collision he was involved in, safe pair of hands at the restarts, and rewarded with a try to round out a colossal performance.

3: Thomas du Toit (Sharks)

Emasculated Christopher Vaotoa with the type of scrum dominance rarely seen in the professional game. The inevitable yellow card the French loosehead received was the equivalent of a referee stepping in and waving off an MMA fight.

2: Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls)

In the thick of the action. A pest at the breakdown, laser-like accuracy with his lineout throwing, and showed great patience to stay bound to the driving maul and time his breakaway to perfection to score.

1: Ox Nche (Bulls)

Crushed Vadim Cobilas in the scrums, had some good touches on attack, and covered a lot of ground in a busy defensive effort.

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