Bulls player ratings: ‘Heroic’ Hanekom, front row hammers Springboks selection door down

Jared Wright
Johan Grobbelaar and Cameron Hanekom

Johan Grobbelaar and Cameron Hanekom

Following the Bulls’ 25-20 United Rugby Championship semi-final victory over Leinster, here is how we rated Jake White’s charges.

Bulls player ratings v Leinster

15 Willie le Roux: Forced off the pitch with a HIA after an off-the-ball tackle, but the Springboks fullback proved that, in fact, class is permanent. His crosskicks caused all kinds of problems in the first half, and his astute kicking game had Leinster on the backfoot. 8

14 Sergeal Petersen: Just his second game since January and first start, and after losing two Springboks wingers, Petersen rose to the occasion. He was perhaps unlucky with his yellow card but more than made up for it scoring two tries, the latter of which was a scorcher. Also made a crucial try-saving tackle on Garry Ringrose too. 8

13 David Kriel: Not quite as box-office as he has been for the Bulls in recent months but no less effective, making excellent defensive reads against the smart Leinster attack. 7

12 Harold Vorster: A superb kick led to Petersen’s first try and battered into the Leinster defensive line with great effect. Combined well on defence with Kriel and shifted the ball on well when needed. 6

11 Devon Williams: Quieter than the other outside backs but he was sharp on defence and filled Le Roux’s void well when he shifted to fullback. Another stunning signing for the Bulls this season and did not let the side down with the Bok wingers out through injury. 6

10 Johan Goosen: Kicked superbly out of hand all game and ran a scrumptious line to cut through the Leinster defence to score. Overall, he made good decisions, but his execution was not always there, particularly with his drop-goal attempts. 7

9 Embrose Papier: A few shoddy passes here and there but kicked well and linked up well with Goosen and made some good defensive interventions. 6

Brilliant Bulls reach second United Rugby Championship final as Leinster fail yet again

Planet Rugby player ratings key 10 - Career defining performance 9 - Outright blockbuster effort 8 - Significantly influenced the result of the game 7 - Committed and effective outing 6 - Flashes of brilliance outside of executing fundamentals 5 - Fulfilling the role required by position (base level) 4 - Poor execution of fundamentals 3 - Costly errors and/or discipline in the game 2 - Poor performance that directly impacted the result 1 - Grossly ineffective throughout 0 - Should have carried water instead


8 Cameron Hanekom: A heroic shift from the breakout star this season who has rocketed into the Springboks discussion and could well be debuting against Ireland in July. There was not a single facet of the game where he did not make an impact, and while he was penalised three times, his positives far outweighed the negatives in a breathtaking man of the match performance. Over 80 metres, 15 hits on defence, two turnovers and a truly match-winning performance. 9

7 Elrigh Louw: Much like his number eight, Louw was sensational all game, hammering into tackles and just as effective with the ball in hand. He is bound to be back in the Bok jersey this year, and today’s performance is a testament to why he thoroughly deserves it. He will be kicking himself about his tackle attempt for Doris’ try, though. 8

6 Marco van Staden: A silly moment cost the Bulls a try as he threw Ross Byrne to the ground in frustration, ruling out the score, but he spent the rest of the game making up for that error. 7

5 Ruan Nortje (c): He just does not stop. Hugely impactful throughout the game in a real workhorse performance which has put him in the frame for Springboks selection. Superb in the lineout and shut down several Leinster threats through sheer work rate. 7

4 Ruan Vermaak: One of the quieter forwards but no less effective. He, too, went through a mountain of work around the park and was good in the lineouts. 6

3 Wilco Louw: Lay down an emphatic statement that he wants to be back in that Springboks jersey, dominating Andrew Porter in the scrums. Boks are blessed with tighthead depth, and Louw has been a game-changing signing. 8

2 Johan Grobbelaar: Part of a dominant scrum, hit his jumper with every throw and hammered into the Leinster attack before making way at the break for Akker van der Merwe after a solid outing. 7

1 Gerhard Steenekamp: Copy and paste from Louw’s performance. He got the better of Tadhg Furlong in the scrums, was effective on defence and will surely be in the Springboks squad this July. The Bulls front row hammered down the selection door today. 8

Replacements: Supposedly the area where Leinster had the upper hand on paper heading into the game and while Jake White did not empty his bench, those that did come on picked up from where the starters left off. Van der Merwe was particularly good at hooker, while Nizaam Carr was excellent as the Bulls closed out the game. 7

READ MORE: Seven Springboks feature in the URC Team of the Season as Bulls dominate