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Week 7 was another successful weekend of rugby for the South African conference teams, delivering two victories from three New Zealand conference match-ups. New Zealand teams are still dominating the top half of the log with no less than four of their teams in the top 7. Two South African teams, the Stormers and the Bulls, find themselves right at the top, with the Sharks giving up their spot at 7 to the Hurricanes this week. Only one Australian team makes the top half of the log, the Brumbies is sitting pretty at 3, even though they have less log points than four other teams, exposing this ridiculous log system even more.
Another dominating defensive and strong forwards effort from the Stormers to beat the high riding Highlanders team of 2012 is reflected in our numbers this week. Seven Stormers for week 7 and not so surprisingly anymore, not with the way they have been playing this year, five of them are forwards. The Cheetahs delivered another rather impressive performance even if the opposition of the day was a rather struggling, limping Lions team and gets another four in our team this week. The Bulls pulled off what looked like a rather unlikely victory for most of the first half and gets three in our team. A struggling Sharks team has one representative and for the second week running, the Lions has no individual standouts.
15. Joe Pieterson (Stormers)
He has been delivering solid performances from the back week after week, and now has shown that he can inject some exciting and brilliant runs as well.
14. Willie le Roux (Cheetahs)
His best work came from the midfield, creating for the players around him. I could easily see him at fly-half or centre, but the Cheetahs has found a way to use his pace and step on the wing and get him to join the line from broken play, to show of all his skills.
13. Robert Eberson (Cheetahs)
It is his first mention in our team. He has been pushing for a spot for some weeks now. The exciting and still young former sevens player ran circles around Lions defenders, but it is his creative contribution in the midfield that has been impressive.
12. Tim Whitehead (Sharks)
Although we all agreed that Jean de Villiers had a great game again, Tim gets the nod this week. The way he slices through the defense at ease is just a beautiful thing, and he still has room to grow. A young player and great prospect for the future.
11. Bryan Habana (Stormers)
He is not yet the Habana of 07 and may never again be, but he is still playing some solid rugby and even breaks the line on occasion. He did look a little clueless after one of his breaks and botched up an opportunity, because he could not link up with support, but he just needs to find himself in that position more often and he will be able to finish it off again.
10. Morne Steyn (Bulls)
When there is no standouts at fly-half in the South African conference, Morne Steyn will almost always automatically fill this spot. Always solid and always reliable, a player that has become confident in his decision making and execution. No backline will complain about his distribution either.
9. Francois Hougaard (Bulls)
Pierre Spies may wear the captain’s armband of this team, but it is these two players who has been steering the ship for the Bulls in the absence of so many of their experienced leaders and then they shift him to the wing, where he also makes an impact. What more can be said.
8. Duane Vermeulen (Stormers)
Another strong performance from him at the back of the scrum, even if Duane has not been shining as much as he has in previous years (he tries hard with that haircut), he has been a solid performer in a strong Stormers pack, who has dominated opposition.
7. Heinrich Brussouw (Cheetahs)
Not enough players stood out at opside for the five South African teams and Brussouw looked like his usual self on the ground again this week, annoying the Lions with turnover possession all game long.
6. Siya Kolisi (Stormers)
There is no doubt that this kid is talented, he not only plays the game strong, he also plays it smart. He finds himself in good supportive positions all the time and uses his skill to offload timeously.
5. Andries Bekker (Stormers)
Another strong defensive performance from the lanky 2.08m lock. He has been criticised for being too loose in the past, but this year he has been a strong ball carrier and abrasive defender for the Stormers. Not to mention his line-out work.
4. Eben Etzebeth (Stormers)
This was maybe not his most prominent performance of the season, but Etzebeth is consistently delivering strong and solid performances for his team and has become an important part of their plan.
3. Frans Malherbe (Stormers)
In a strong forwards performance by his team the young prop did enough to get noticed by our selectors this week. In his first game of the season and only 4th ever for the Stormers, the 21 year old had a strong showing.
2. Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs)
For a player that has been playing outstanding rugby each week, it is quite amazing that this is his first time in our team. He has been pushing for the spot for weeks now, carrying the ball fiercely and leading his side passionately every game.
1. Dean Greyling (Bulls)
It looks like we’re all suckers for a prop dummying a back and sprinting 20m for a try. Greyling also had a strong performance elsewhere in his game, but that was all we needed.
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