As Eric Rush once said, “this is just one man’s opinion”. Please add your picks and your favourites in the feedback box below.
15 Kurtley Beale (Waratahs)
Israel who? It’s so refreshing to see Beale and his all-around game flourish with his chance at fullback for the Waratahs. His positioning is excellent, flat passing an asset, running that is so hard to read from the backfield and he has given the Waratahs the option of the dual playmaking roles at first receiver which has taken a lot of pressure off Foley. With Quade Cooper’s form coming off the boil this combo is certainly an option for the Wallabies. Damian Willemse (Stormers) had an excellent game as he nullified Richie Mo’unga’s kicking game and a smashing tackle on David Havili that snuffed out a try.
14 Caleb Clarke (Blues)
Clarke was into everything and made some telling tackles, one where he tracked back 70 metres to make the try saving drag down and then effect the turnover. Rugged with the ball in hand as well. Good attitude that helped the Blues break an 8-year hoodoo with their northern neighbours.
13 Marius Jonker (TMO)
In the absence of a stand out 13 this week let’s give this position to the TMO in the Stormers Crusaders game. He certainly kept the Stormers in the game in this very tight and tense match. In a complete lack of appreciation of the laws of the game, Jonker got on the talkback to Nick Berry to rule a forward pass to deny Sevu Reece a try that would have had the champions out by a decent margin. The ball clearly travelled backward out of Ennor’s hands and floated forward with the momentum of the player. It won’t have an effect on the competition standings but it makes any rugby fan uneasy that this official could potentially be the TMO in a World Cup knockout game and make a gaffe like this.
12 Jeronimo de la Fuente (Jaguares)
The inside center was dominant in the midfield as the Jaguares shocked the Hurricanes and it was a surprise to see him carve off so many more metres with the ball in hand against the passive Ngani Laumape. Captained the team well and was one of many leaders, another point of difference for the Argentinians as many of the Hurricanes senior players failed to back up Ardie Savea.
11 Ramiro Moyano (Jaguares)
Moyano has had a great couple of games in New Zealand alongside his outside back amigos Boffelli and Cancelliere. Speed, creativity and zest, they add some icing on Argentinean rugby’s cake. Rosko Speckman (Bulls) was his ebullient best against the Rebels.
10 Handre Pollard (Bulls)
The Bulls flyhalf seemed to pick up some tips from Richie Mo’unga with some wonderful kick passes and 17 points in Melbourne. Such an important cog in the Bulls and Springboks’ wheel.
9 Aaron Smith (Highlanders)
The Highlanders went down to the Lions but it was through no lack of trying from the All Black halfback. The game moved from side to side very quickly at altitude and Smith was equal to the task putting in lung-busting 50-60 sprints from one breakdown to the next. Good heads up play keeping the tempo up as well.
8 Kwagga Smith (Lions)
We tend to think of South African loose forward trios as three 195cm, 120kg behemoths but the Lions have two terriers in the form of Manus Shoeman (178cm) and Kwagga Smith (182cm). What a revelation they were. Kwagga bagged himself two tries and both popped up like jack-in-the-boxes. Michael Wells (Waratahs) is matching Michael Hooper’s work rate and they are forming a good 7-8 pair.
7 Pieter Steph du Toit (Stormers)
The Stormers love to suck the life out of their opposition and there’s no bigger python that Pieter Steph du Toit. Dangerous in hand to hand combat and some very good technical skills at set-piece.
6 Pablo Matera (Jaguares)
This guy could be from a Canterbury dairy farm the way he plays; uncompromising, strong and brutal with some softer skills when required. Also, his work rate is consistent, he just doesn’t slow down. Won his important head to head with Vaea Fifita.
5 Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
The Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock had a great battle with Eben Etzebeth (Stormers). Both locks putting in big shifts in the collision zone and set piece.
4 Patrick Tuipolotu (Blues)
Paddy was King of the Middle of the Park against the Chiefs and led his team to a fine victory. Invariably gets go forward, the only time he failed was when he was cut down by one of Luke Jacobsen’s scything efforts. The great thing about his carrying is he has no issue about going to ground, has almost given up looking for miracle balls and Blues fans would wish a few of his other forward buddies followed his lead.
3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Blues)
A watershed game for big Ofa. Up against his two biggest challengers for the 5th All Black prop spot in the RWC squad, he had the better of Atu Moli, scored a try and both he and loosehead Alex Hodgman stayed on for the full 80. At 76 minutes, with a defensive scrum 5 metres out from their line, they destroyed the Chiefs pack for a penalty, putting the game beyond doubt.
2 Malcolm Marx (Lions)
Second week in a row. This guy is a phenom. Was given plenty of latitude at tackle time by the ref and took full advantage of it. We saw more running from him this week too. His form seems to be coming to the boil well. 38-year-old Schalk Brits (Bulls) was prominent.
1 Tom Robertson (Waratahs) First start for the Waratah this season and had a very strong match taking on Taniela Tupou. Not easy coming back from an ACL for a prop but showed his all-round game to spice up the race for the Wallaby number one jersey.
Egon Seconds performance:
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