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'I can't believe that worked': Five miracle plays that actually paid off

By Jamie Wall
Lionel Cronje

In honour of Lionel Cronje’s slick wraparound grubber against the Force, Jamie Wall looks at five other players who managed to pull off a perfect miracle kick or pass.

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Oh, the irony. The weekend Super Rugby went through the turmoil of change and having to cut teams, one of the teams that’ll be certain to be in the firing line pulled off one of the most viral highlights of the season.

Lionel Cronje’s utterly ridiculous one-man wraparound pass and grubber through for Malcolm Jaer to score showed that the Kings are still capable of a few highlights. Even still, it arguably wasn’t even the top miracle play of the weekend when you consider Dillyn Leyd’s behind the back flick to set up SP Marais.

In honour of these super Super Rugby plays, let’s have a look at some of the other inspired, crazy or just downright jammy moments:

Joe Roff vs England: Did we ever tell you how much we love retro jerseys? That is part of the reason this play makes the list, but mainly it’s because it features three epic passes in a row, each getting better than the last till Joe Roff throws a miracle ball to Ben Tune. The funny bit is the sky-blue throwback New South Wales kit (that’s what Australia wore as their original strip), given that none of the players involved in that movement played for the Waratahs.

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Quade Cooper vs the Cheetahs: When he’s not injured or fighting overweight man-children for charity, Quade Cooper is capable of some pretty special things. Most of them came during the 2011 season, when the confidence of the Reds led him to try a cross kick in his own in goal that led to a 60m break upfield. Of course, it was this sort of thing that led them to their one and only title as well. Which seems a long time ago now, sadly.

Tamati Ellison vs the Crusaders: The man with one of the most notable surnames in New Zealand rugby has carved out a career that took him to four Super Rugby teams and a decent stint in Japan. He also was looking destined to be a one-test All Black after debuting in 2009, but form like this saw him recalled back over three years later. By then he was on his third franchise. After this season with the Highlanders he moved to the Melbourne Rebels, but didn’t produce any miracle passes there.

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Carlos Spencer vs the Springboks: As well as retro jerseys, we’ve also got a thing for Carlos Spencer. The cheekiest man in rugby pulled out this piece of improvisation in not only a match against the Springboks, not only a World Cup match, but a knockout quarterfinal. This play is one that All Black fans might not remember so well because the next week King Carlos threw a pass that didn’t quite go according to plan.

Lima Sopoaga vs the Hurricanes: This one deserved a try for the kick, though maybe not so much for the shocking forward pass that Matt Faddes throws after collecting it. Sopoaga is often looked at as the steady and sensible option at first five for the All Blacks, but stuff like this shows he can mix it up with the likes of Beauden Barrett if he needs to.

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