United Rugby Championship: Two Cents Rugby picks his top five players of the semi-finals
After two pulsating United Rugby Championship (URC) semi-finals, we asked Two Cents Rugby to select five of the best players from Saturday.
In no particular order, the YouTube star went for three forwards and two backs, so without further ado, here they are. Have your say in the comments.
Two Cent Rugby’s five top players
Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)
There were a lot of slick plays from the Stormers which saw them crack the 40-point mark against Connacht in Cape Town. However, it’s important to remember they started this game on the back foot, down by eight points and struggling to get any ball and making too many errors.
Kitshoff, though, was a steadying influence through that tough patch. After the Stormers were pinged at scrum time, the Springbok prop was able to bag one back against Ireland international Finlay Bealham.
Kitshoff also managed two first-half turnovers to get his team out of the fire while across the course of the game he made 17 from 17 tackles, which is the top prop from the weekend. It was a case of titanic leadership from the front from the Stormers loosehead.
Tadhg Beirne (Munster)
Watching the epic URC arm wrestle between Leinster and Munster, there were a lot of standout performers.
Every time Beirne with his blue headgear popped up near the ball, you felt the visitors were in a better position. He was the only Munster player able to get over the whitewash in Dublin despite numerous attempts.
Indeed, Beirne was constantly involved in the Munster attack, be it his 11 passes or his nine carries while beating three defenders. On defence too he got Munster out of jail several times and was credited with three turnovers and a lot of disruption of Leinster ball.
Completing his game, he also tacked well, finishing with 13 hits from 15, as in general he was a proper threat and a proper menace.
Manie Libbok (Stormers)
Another week, another top shift from the Stormers playmaker.
He topped last week’s 18 points with a 23-point haul on Saturday, with 10 of those points coming from tries. The first crossing was a cracker as Libbok ran the support line to finish it off, but even more impressive was his confidence to run the ball from his own 22 to start the momentum which led to the try.
He kicked well from hand too, using the option 14 times which included nailing the cross-kick to Angelo Davids to set up the Stormers’ first try. The fly-half also slotted the majority of his points from the tee in tough, windy conditions.
Even in defence he made nine from 11 tackles and won a turnover and he’ll hope to continue this rich vein of form through to the final.
Josh van der Flier (Leinster)
Came on much earlier than expected with the injury to Will Connors, and he was immediately in the thick of the action.
He finished as Leinster’s top tackler, which in itself isn’t surprising as we’ve seen that kind of shift from Van der Flier time and time again. But still, 25 out of 27 is pretty high even for him.
Perhaps even more importantly was his ability to pinch Munster’s ball. How many times did Leinster get out of jail on their own line? Across the 80 minutes Van der Flier is credited with four turnovers.
Leinster’s lack of possession meant he was limited to only four carries at the Aviva Stadium, but certainly without him on defence, I don’t think his game would have gone down to the wire like it did.
Jack Crowley (Munster)
He hasn’t played all that much inside centre in his career with Munster, but maybe Crowley will get more game time there after his performance against Leinster.
Obviously, this game will be remembered for his late drop goal winner to put Munster in front. It was a fantastic moment; proper theatre and you have to admire the coolness from the 23-year-old to get in the pocket and give it a crack.
Aside from that he pulled the strings well from both 10 and 12, running the backline with 20 passes as well as keeping the Leinster defence on their toes with eight carries, beating a couple of defenders along the way.
Defensively not asked to do as much with all the Munster possession, but he still made five from seven tackles against an experienced Leinster midfield combination and won a turnover to boot.
He’ll be another one going into the final full of confidence and was a fitting choice for player of the match.
READ MORE: URC: Five takeaways from Leinster v Munster as the road trip continues for Graham Rowntree’s men
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