United Rugby Championship Team of the Week: ‘Complete’ Bulls back three and Ulster’s hero features

Dylan Coetzee
Split with Ulster's John Cooney and Bulls star Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Split with Ulster's John Cooney and Bulls star Kurt-Lee Arendse.

What a weekend it was in Round 17 of the United Rugby Championship (URC) as teams pushed for the play-off positions.

Several sides performed well during the course of a thrilling round of action, leading to a number of clubs being represented in our selection.

URC Team of the Week

15 Willie le Roux (Bulls): The veteran full-back is the lifeblood of an evolving Bulls attack and showed his playmaking abilities when popping up at first receiver on attack, which is exactly how he assisted a try at the weekend. Leinster’s Hugo Keenan was also impressive but misses out to the South African.

14 Canan Moodie (Bulls): It is hard to believe that he is still 21 years old sometimes given how he performs week in and week out. This time around he scored a hat-trick of tries as he constantly caused issues for Benetton. Just about every part of Moodie’s game is impressive at the moment as six tries in his last three games suggests. Lions star Rabz Maxwane was instrumental with a brace of tries.

13 David Kriel (Bulls): The centre is doing his absolute best to barge open the door for a Springboks call-up and was potent again last time out with a try and assist. Kriel has such an all-around skillset which aids his decision-making so much. Versatility can be a curse but all the little skills picked up from around the backline are quickly turning him into a world-class midfielder. Munster’s Antoine Frisch was also top with two tries.

12 Jordan Hendrikse (Lions): Thrown in at the unfamiliar centre position just before kick off and handled himself with aplomb as a ball-playing 12. He still carried the ball up really well while contributing to the kicking game. On defence, he was a rock making all 12 tackles that he attempted. His exploits get him in ahead of Bulls star Harold Vorster.

11 Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls): The third member of a Bulls back three that all make the team and rightly so. ‘The Butcher’ is in devastating form at the moment with a try and an assist showing just that. The Springbok could well be the most in-form player in transition right now. Elsewhere, Lion Edwill van der Merwe and Edinburgh’s Duhan van der Merwe both had a good outing.

10 Jack Crowley (Munster): Class is the first word that comes to mind when thinking of the Ireland fly-half’s form. Crowley managed a try and an assist as he guided his side to a narrow win thanks to a late penalty in the last 10 minutes. While many see the brilliance on attack, it is his defensive offerings too that make the star complete with 11 tackles at the weekend. For the Lions, Sanele Nohamba sparked a try fest while Cardiff’s Ben Thomas buried the Sharks in Durban.

9 John Cooney (Ulster): It was the kind of game that needed a hero and that is exactly what the scrum-half was. Cooney, on the back of a solid performance, stood up in the dying minutes to nail a penalty to beat Leinster. It doesn’t get much better than that in an inter-pro derby. He gets in ahead of elusive Lion, Morne van den Berg.

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8 Gavin Coombes (Munster): There were solid outings from Bill Mata (Edinburgh), Nick Timoney (Ulster) and Jack Conan (Leinster) but none better than the try-scoring Musterman who beat five defenders on the night and made 14 tackles to match. Coombes always empties the tank and this time around a lot came from it.

7 JC Pretorius (Lions): Aptly nicknamed ‘Baby Kwagga’ the former sevens star covered just about every blade of grass against Glasgow and was rewarded with a try for his tireless support running. On defence, he was ever-present making 14 tackles. A player like Pretorius is a coach’s dream and if he can do this consistently over the next couple of seasons then higher honours may be on the cards.

6 Elrigh Louw (Bulls): The loose forward is really starting to come into his own and produced another blockbuster outing where he was commanding with ball hand, making 72 metres from his 14 carries. He still had enough left in the tank to make 15 tackles. Stormer BJ Dixon was a defensive beast for his side making 25 tackles.

5 James Ryan (Leinster): The Irishman only knows one way and that’s full throttle. Ryan was outstanding, making 19 tackles against Ulster while contributing in the line-out as well. He had fewer chances to run the ball but his neat work in the tight gets him ahead of the Bulls’ Ruan Nortje.

4 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh): It is not always common for a player from a losing team to feature but Edinburgh ran Munster close and the second-row notched up a ridiculous 25 tackles in the process. Those efforts were enough to keep Stormers captain Salmaan Moerat out of our side.

3 Tom O’Toole (Ulster): The tighthead had a massive challenge against Leinster and played extremely well with his 10 tackles while also carrying well. It was a passionate outing that got the star in our side.

2 Dewi Lake (Ospreys): It was a dream milestone 50th match for the hooker who scored a brace of tries on his special day. He offered himself in the carry throughout and was neat in the lineout. Bull Akker van der Merwe and Ulster’s Rob Herring were also standouts.

1 Brok Harris (Stormers): Easily the oldest player in our side but one with a monster tackle count as the prop managed 14 hits at 100% success. Add to that a good scrummaging outing and it is clear to see why he is picked despite Munster’s Jeremy Loughman putting in a strong shift.

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