The second round of Super Rugby AU saw the competitions first ever Super Time, as well as the long-awaited return of the Western Force who last played Super Rugby 1092 days ago.
The Reds scored 10-points in the final 6-minutes to take the Rebels to golden point, and would’ve won the match had a Bryce Hegarty penalty not have fallen short.
The backrow of Wright, McReight and Wilson backed up last week’s performance, with their abundance of energy and high work rate keeping the Reds within touching distance.
The Waratahs were the only winners from round two, and can breathe a sigh of relief after surviving a scare from the Force.
The Force ran out to a 14-0 lead just before half-time, but the hosts regained control with 23 unanswered points getting their season back on track with a win.
While the forward pack laid the foundations for the eventual comeback, it was the Waratahs outside backs who made the Force pay late in the match.
Players in both matches stood up when their teams needed them, in what was another impressive weekend of Australian rugby. Let’s see who stood out as the five players of week two.
Brynard Stander (Force)
The Western Force were impressive in their long-awaited return to Super Rugby, with a host of players standing up and impressing despite the loss.
Brynard Stander was a standout for the Force, imposing his strength and brutality on the Waratahs defence every time he got the ball with his hard and direct style of play.
The Number Eight ran for 72 metres off 13 carries, which was fourth overall for running metres across the two matches. He looked especially dangerous in the couple of times he found himself in space, proving a handful for any player trying to take down the backrower one-on-one.
Teammate Tevin Ferris also impressed with his defensive performance in what was a good night for the Force backrow. The flanker was the top tackler of the round with 21.
Harry Wilson (Reds)
Harry Wilson was back to his best on Friday night, reminding the Australian rugby public why both Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, and Reds coach Brad Thorn, were singing his praises before the COVID break.
Wilson ran the 3rd most metres of any Reds player with 57, with his desire to compete and get his hands of the ball really clear on Friday.
The 20-year-old also stood out for a brave dropout return in the 68th minute, where he ran it straight at Rebels prop Cameron Orr who he bumped off with sheer determination.
When the Reds needed Wilson, the up-and-comer stood up.
Just as he did last week, Wilson also made his mark on defence with 16 tackles, which was the most of any Reds player.
Reds flanker Fraser McReight was also impressive against the Rebels, and was unlucky not to have made this list on his own.
While the 2019 Junior Wallabies captain’s stats weren’t quite as eye-catching as his teammates, his work rate around the breakdown was particularly impressive.
Both players continued to knock on Dave Rennie’s door for Wallabies selection with their performances in round two.
Jack Maddocks (Waratahs)
Jack Maddocks was once again a standout player from the weekend of rugby, looking right at home in the Waratahs 15 jersey.
Just as he did last week, the 23-year-old topped the competition for metres ran with 87 off 17 carries.
Maddocks also proved himself to be a handy option with the boot, impressing with in-field kicking to help the Tahs regain control of the match.
The fullback seems to be thriving alongside flyhalf Will Harrison who was also impressive last weekend. Their combination could tempt Dave Rennie as the future 10-15 combination for the Wallabies.
But let’s not forget about Tom Banks who we’re yet to see in Super Rugby AU.
James Ramm (Waratahs)
James Ramm might just be the standout player of the second week of Super Rugby AU. While wingers tend to be graded on their ability to cross for five-pointers, and even though he didn’t, his work around the park was exceptional.
The 22-year-old was particularly impressive in attack, running for 83 metres off only eight carries. Ramm was equal second for running metres alongside Reds winger Filipo Dangunu, and was only bettered by Jack Maddocks by four metres.
It didn’t come easy for the winger through, who earned every metre he ran. Ramm topped the charts for both defenders beaten with six, and for clean line breaks with three.
Before he starts pushing the national honours though, Ramm will have to prove his consistency starting with competition favourites in the Brumbies, next Saturday.
Pone Fa’amausili (Rebels)
Standing at nearly two metres tall and weighing 130 kilograms, Pone Fa’amausili was always going to be a threat to the Reds hopes of back-to-back wins for the first time in 2020.
While it was a mixed scrumming performance, the tighthead prop outshone the man known as ‘the Tongan Thor’ in Taniela Tupou, for the havoc that he caused around the park.
Reds fullback Bryce Hegarty was on the wrong side of the hit of the night, where Fa’amausili sent him flying just 30 seconds after the half-time break.
He backed that up six minutes later, returning a goal line drop out straight at Wallaby Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
The 23-year-old showed plenty of courage but didn’t seem at all fazed by the wall of Reds jerseys, taking the ball just short of 30 metres.
In an otherwise wet and messy match, Pone Fa’amausili was a definite highlight.
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