United Rugby Championship Team of the Week: Leinster lead the way while Springbok in-waiting impresses

Adam Kyriacou
Leinster lock Joe McCarthy and Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar make our team.

Leinster lock Joe McCarthy and Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar make our team.

Following an entertaining weekend of knockout rugby in Ireland, Scotland and South Africa, we have picked our United Rugby Championship Team of the Quarter-Finals.

Leinster lead the way with five players making the line-up while elsewhere there’s a healthy mix of clubs with all the quarter-finalists having representation in the XV.

United Rugby Championship Team of the Week

15 Willie le Roux (Bulls): It was a close run thing with Munster’s Simon Zebo but we edged towards the Springbok as his lovely chip set up Kurt-Lee Arendse’s first try and he was also influential as a distributor in the first line of attack. Le Roux was once again solid under the high ball at Loftus Versveld.

14 Onisi Ratave (Benetton): The Player of the Match in defeat says a good deal about Ratave’s performance in Pretoria. He finished with one try, 11 carries for 122 metres and five tackles in an all-action shift. While he wore jersey 11 we simply had to make room for the Benetton wing so he takes the 14 slot.

13 Robbie Henshaw (Leinster): A solid defensive performance from the Ireland international as he gets the call over David Kriel as our 13. Henshaw defended stoutly as he always does and took his try well in their victory against Ulster. Leinster will need him to be even better at the Bulls this weekend.

12 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Stormers): Henshaw’s centre partner Jamie Osborne once again impressed while Malakai Fekitoa was in strong form on his return to action for Benetton. However, Feinberg-Mngomezulu was one of the Stormers’ best players, contributing a try assist and 11 tackles.

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11 Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors): A hotly-contest jersey but Steyn deserves his spot ahead of James Lowe and Kurt-Lee Arendse. Five carries for 114 metres that included five defenders beaten is some return as the Glasgow Warriors skipper was hugely influential in the home win over the Stormers.

10 Jack Crowley (Munster): In knockout rugby sometimes it is about keeping a cool head and taking the points when on offer. Crowley did just that with ease for Munster against the Ospreys on Friday as he contributed 13 points in an assured showing. Leinster replacement, Sam Prendergast, Johan Goosen (Bulls) and Tomas Albornoz (Benetton) also went well for their respective team, with the latter pair having a fantastic tussle in Pretoria on Saturday.

9 George Horne (Glasgow Warriors): Speaking of reliable kicking performances and Horne was also on song over the weekend as he steered Glasgow to a 27-10 win over the Stormers. Elsewhere, Embrose Papier was a livewire for the Bulls but we felt Horne was more than deserving of our nine jersey.

8 Caelan Doris (Leinster): A real force once again with ball in hand for his province as he made 11 carries for 47 metres and he was also a nuisance to Ulster at the breakdown. Opposite number Nick Timoney also impressed, as did Cameron Hanekom for the Bulls, who finished with 20 tackles completed.

7 Josh van der Flier (Leinster): 24 tackles from the former World Rugby Player of the Year as he gets the nod over Rory Darge and John Hodnett, who fronted up well for Glasgow and Munster respectively. Another huge shift is required from Van der Flier if they are to conquer the intimidating Loftus.

6 Jac Morgan (Ospreys): The Wales international got through a heap of work at Thomond Park and is helped somewhat by a fairly quiet weekend from other blindside flanks. Seven carries and a team high 19 tackles while he was a threat at the breakdown, He’s a complete back-row with a bright future.

5 Federico Ruzza (Benetton): Provided a delightful over-the-top offload for Fekitoa to set up Ratave for his try in Pretoria and was solid in his core duties as well. Ruan Nortje and Tadhg Beirne also put in impressive showings as the Bulls and Munster booked their passage to the URC‘s semi-finals.

4 Joe McCarthy (Leinster): Scott Cummings fronted up superbly for Glasgow Warriors but McCarthy was outstanding and arguably the pick of Leinster’s pack on Saturday. He made 11 carries and 16 tackles as he continues to mature as an elite second-row and deservedly was named Player of the Match.

3 Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors): Tom Botha impressed early on against Munster but there was only one winner here after the Scotland international’s performance against the Stormers. Fagerson’s counter ruck on Joseph Dweba was outstanding and he ticked every other box in a strong game.

2 Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls): Such a destructive hooker who is surely set to feature for the Springboks this year. Grobbelaar’s nuts and bolts were good while he made six carries for 19 metres as well as eight tackles to get in over Munster’s Niall Scannell, who is such a reliable performer in the red shirt.

1 Andrew Porter (Leinster): A whopping 19 tackles from the Ireland loosehead while he was a threat at the breakdown against Ulster. Ospreys prop Nicky Smith deserves a mention but there was only one winner here for our number one jersey. An impressive 65 minutes at the coalface from Porter.

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