Five of the best: Top performers from round four of Super Rugby AU
The Rebels recorded their first season double over the New South Wales Waratahs, and their first win in Super Rugby AU to move up to third on the ladder.
Matt Toomua was immense for the visitors, kicking his side to victory with two conversions and five penalties. It was an error riddled match, with the Rebels taking their opportunities when they got the chance.
But the other match was even more one sided, with two tries after six minutes setting the tone for what proved to be a frustrating night for the Western Force against the Brumbies.
Tom Wright and Irae Simone both finished attacks from deep inside their own half, for which the Force had no answer – becoming the first team to be held scoreless in the new competition.
The Brumbies move to first which sets up a mouth-watering clash against the Queensland Reds in Canberra next weekend. Let’s see who stood out as the five players of week four.
Matt Philip (Rebels)
Rebels head coach Dave Wessels praised his youthful forward pack following the 19-point victory over the Waratahs, highlighting players such as Trevor Hosea, Pone Fa’amausili and Josh Kemeny for matching the experienced Waratahs pack. But the standout player from the Rebels forward pack, and possibly even the round, was 26-year-old Matt Philip.
Philip impressed at the lineout as the primary option for the Rebels, but made his mark around the field with an elite work rate.
In the minute before half-time, the lock got his hands on the ball twice and supported Pone Fa’amausili into another breakdown. He was also back on his feet ready to run the ball again, and likely would’ve if the clock had another 10 seconds to run.
Later in the match, Philip once again brought his passion, determination and skill to the fore with his hunger to get involved. With 20 minutes to play, the 199cm lock ran the ball three times in the space of five plays – his last effort falling just a metre short of the chalk.
Almost unsurprisingly, he finished the match with the most carries of any player in round four of Super Rugby AU with 16.
But a lot of what Philip did can’t be measured by stats; his seemingly never-ending supply of energy that saw him constantly bounce up from a ruck to support his teammates or get his hands on the ball. The Wallabies need some locks to bolster their ranks, if he can play like this consistency, Dave Rennie could do a lot worse than Matt Philip.
Matt Toomua (Rebels)
Matt Toomua all but ended the Wallabies flyhalf debate with a classy display against the Waratahs on Friday.
Coming up against a potential rival for the golden 10 jersey in Will Harrison, Toomua shone from minute one with his first kick clearing his side from danger, going into touch around halfway. It was a sign of what was to come.
The Super Rugby centurion continued to show his class just seconds later, with a line break setting the platform for the first points of the night. Toomua ran past Lachlan Swinton, for a burst that finished 50 metres from where it started.
The 30-year-old finished the match with 19-points to his name, in what was generally a very good performance. He stood up as a leader, and looked dangerous as a playmaker. Toomua was arguably the player of the round with his boot guiding his side to a much-needed win.
Pete Samu (Brumbies)
The Super Rugby winner was near his best on Saturday night, looking more than threatening whenever he got the chance to get involved in the match.
Especially early on, Samu made an impact with ball-in-hand, contributing to both of the Brumbies two tries in the first six minutes.
The number eight showed great composure in an offload to Joe Powell that started the initial break for Tom Wright’s try, before an impressive 20 metre burst that laid the platform for the teams second five-pointer just four minutes later.
But every time he got the ball in space, his offloading, footwork and brute strength made him a handful for the Force defence.
His physicality is the backbone of his game, and that was clear again last weekend.
Ryan Louwrens (Rebels)
One thing is for sure: the Wallabies have plenty of depth at the halfback position. While Ryan Louwrens is still probably an outside chance of making the squad, he showed last Friday night that he’d be more than ready if called upon down the track.
All good scrumhalf’s have to be able to snipe around the ruck, but it was his vision and confidence that really made Louwrens standout.
The 29-year-old opted to run down the short side a couple of times in the match, which ended with mixed results. The first time, Andrew Kellaway fell centimetres short of the try line before the Rebels had a try disallowed.
Later, Louwrens might have made something happen from nothing, if Alex Newsome hadn’t intercepted a Reece Hodge pass to score for the Waratahs.
Louwrens crossed over for a five-pointer of his own just before half-time, showing plenty of strength to score his fourth try in Super Rugby.
He controlled the game very well for the Rebels, and also did his job with the boot.
Another halfback who impressed was Joe Powell, who will likely be in the mix for selection if the Wallabies play later this year. Powell will face increasing pressure to hold his place with Wallaby Nic White returning to the Brumbies last week, but all the 26-year-old can do is keep playing as he did in round four.
Tom Wright (Brumbies)
It seems like every week that another winger stands up and impresses in Super Rugby AU, in what is becoming a good headache for Dave Rennie to have.
Wright got off to the perfect start against the Force, finishing off an 80-metre burst by the Brumbies to cross over for what turned out to be the match winner in just the second minute.
But the 23-year-old showed his class just four minutes later. When the Brumbies broke out again from deep inside their own half, Wright may have been tempted to take on Force winger Brad Lacey who stood between him and his second, but instead made the right decision in passing to Joe Powell in support.
Wright ran the most metres of anyone in round four of Super Rugby AU, topping the charts with 131 metres which was 56 more than second-placed Marika Koroibete from the Rebels.
He also showed that he’s more than just a good finisher, setting up Will Miller three minutes after the break by drawing in two Force players to make the flankers life just a little bit easier.
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