Sarel Pretorius and Charles Ngatai among the stars missing this weekend and boy have their sides missed them.
The Bulls and Stormers were at their scintillating best, the Highlanders overcame yet another refereeing controversy as they managed to nail the Chiefs and calm them down. The Brumbies managed to brush aside the Force who have started to spiral down. Kudos to the Lions who shut up NZ Rugby by winning in New Zealand and against the Blues who continue to look woeful!
The referees continue to look clueless, uneducated and confused. No consistency and the high ball remains a lottery. I advice a no contest in the air because it leads to a penalty. So who were the top performers in this Round?
1. Steven Kitsoff (Stormers)
The Sharks scrum was dismantled. The ginger man was on song and was pivotal in what was a powerful STORMERS forward display. When last did you see a Sharks pack outclassed like that?
2. Siyabonga Ntubeni (Stormers)
While Adriaan Strauss remains the best South African hooker at the moment, the Scarra youngster continues to grow. He edged Bismarck by a few yards and was a key factor in their exceptional set piece.
3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
Big Ben was just brilliant. He defended like a machine. He was dogged making 13 tackles in his hour cameo. Also included is a vital try early on. Cornerstone of that Brumbies pack!
4. Manuel Carizza (Stormers)
The engine room. Was sublime and clinical. The Argentine was a lineout master. He won his own, and managed to pinch one of the Sharks' own. A combination that could further benefit the Stormers scrum with you Eben Etzebeth.
5. Dave Dennis (Tahs)
A solid performer for the Waratahs in the pack whether as a back rower or a tight forward. Dennis continues to excel and was crucial in Tahs' first phase ball quest. Especially the line out.
6. Pieter Labuschagne (Bulls)
Had to carry quite a lot against the Cheetahs and did so effectively. The former Cheetah man remains one of the tournament's best tacklers as he hopes to earn another call up to Meyer's squad. No forward was more industrious with ball in hand.
7. Jarrad Butler (Brumbies)
He has been exceptional. I don't see Pocock topping this guy's performances. The Brumbie has been one of the top loose forwards in the country and continued to showcase his all round skills. He continues to improve weekly!
8. Warren Whiteley (Lions)
Massive. A captains performance. The Lion roared with a first win in New Zealand. All I saw him do was tackle against the Blues and he was brilliant at it. 27/27 tackles. The Round's best. Leader of men.
9. Nicholas White (Brumbies)
I could not say there was a nine that impressed me this weekend. I will acknowledge the service of Nic White. The Australian was also efficient in defence making a commendable 11 tackles. If only Nick Groom didn't get a yellow.
10. Handre Pollard (Bulls)
Bernard Foley, Elton Jantjes also played brilliantly this weekend but Handre was top quality. He scored a try, a drop goal and manages to knock a handful of kicks over. The maestro kept the Bulls score board ticking and took the game away from the home side who never got going. Shoots to the top points scorer charts and continues to give me a reason to back him ahead of Pat Lambie (He was also good in a dead side).
11. Peter Betham (Tahs)
A try, and a vital win secured as the Waratahs continue to rise from that early loss. The singer was in good form, he managed to also beat 8 defenders in this game. Evasive.
12. Damian de Allende (Stormers)
After Francois Steyn's return was marred by that yellow I must point out Damian has been brilliant all season. He was vital for the Stormers this weekend, from defence to attack including defenders left in their wake, tackles made and line breaks.
13. Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders)
Managed to win four turnovers. He was a thorn in the Chiefs heel. The centre continues to enhance his reputation and thanks to a last gasp penalty from Marty Banks providing his side with a shock win!
14. Johnny-Ben Kotze (Stormers)
While I feel Lwazi Mvovo should not have let the ball bounce, the youngster scored a well taken try. Thanks to the bounce, a neat swerve, some great footwork and some pace. Yet another youngster in the Stormers fraternity shining.
15. Cheslin Kolbe (Stormers)
He was a target. All game, all day. He was the target of Frans Steyn. The young fullback may be moved to 9 if Nick Mallet gets his way, but he is a very good 15. He managed to be sound on defence, elusive on attack and showed a lot of guts...still wondering what Frans Steyn was thinking!