Super Rugby Team of the Week – Round Six
Another round of Super Rugby has drawn to a close, which means it’s now time the Super Rugby Team of the Week.
1 – James Slipper (Reds)
There were no clear standouts in the loosehead prop position this weekend, with the majority of the #1’s putting in so-so efforts over the weekend.
However, James Slipper was a point of difference in his 100th appearance in a Reds jersey as his side fell to the Stormers in Cape Town. The 28-year- old went about his work in modest fashion at Newlands, and came away with an admirable stat sheet.
The 86-test Wallaby beat a pair of defenders en route to running 16-metres, while a couple of offloads isn’t too shabby for a front rower. Slipper also managed to force nine tackles throughout his showing, and while his side may not have played to the standard that he deserved in his centurion outing, the prop can be proud of his performance in the 25-19
Elsewhere, Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks) continued his impressive start to this year’s Super Rugby campaign, while Steven Kitshoff (Stormers) and Aidan Ross (Chiefs) both did well.
2 – Malcolm Marx (Lions)
Malcolm Marx continues to prove that his South African Player of the Year Award last year was no fluke with another outstanding display in this season’s Super Rugby, with victorious Jaguares the victims of his capabilities in Buenos Aires.
The Springboks hooker chalked up a brace of tries, making him the second equal highest try scorer in the league, with five meat pies to his name. These scores were reflective of his offensive efforts, which saw him make 16-metres as he broke the line on one occasion to beat a solitary defender.
Marx was defensively superb as well, completing all eight of his tackle attempts, while also managing to with the Lions not one, but two turnovers. This outstanding all-round effort was capped off by his brilliance at the lineout, which saw him throw for a 100% success rate as the visitors won all 21 of their own lineouts.
While his side went down in a shock 49-35 loss at Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Marx can hold his head up high knowing that he put his all into trying to prevent that defeat.
Nathan Harris (Chiefs) benefitted from his side’s 61-10 onslaught of the Sunwolves in Tokyo, and Anaru Rangi (Rebels) once again showed that he is slowly becoming a vital member of the surprisingly impressive Rebels outfit. Codie Taylor (Crusaders) and Augustin Creevy (Jaguares) continued to battle it out alongside Marx to stake their respective claims as the competition’s best hooker.
3 – Jermaine Ainsley (Rebels)
Similarly to the other prop position, there were thin picking for the tighthead slot in this week’s side, with only Jermaine Ainsley putting in an eye-catching shift across the weekend.
The Melbourne #3 returns to the TOTW after his selection in round three, as the Wallabies prospect was instrumental with ball in hand. Ainsley posted a solid 17 running metres, as he bustled his way through and around the fringes of the breakdown to break through four tackles.
While it wasn’t the crème de le crème of all-round performances, the former New Zealand schoolboy representative did enough in his side’s 46-14 thrashing of the Sharks to make this week’s team.
Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (Jaguares) was probably Ainsley’s biggest threat, with the Argentine putting in a mammoth defensive shift in his team’s second win of the season.
4 – Marvin Orie (Lions)
The second player to make this week’s team from the unsuccessful Lions, Marvin Orie was outstanding across all facets as his club succumbed to the Jaguares in Argentina.
The uncapped 25-year- old’s performance was one that all locks should aspire to, as he dominated on attack, in the tackle, and at the set piece. Orie picked up one of his team’s five tries, which should have been expected considering he made himself a key attacking outlet in the tight channels for the South Africans, carrying the ball nine times to make 16 metres.
His polished match didn’t stop there, with the second rower making an outstanding 16 tackle, without missing once – the most by any players in the Lions this week. Additionally, Orie combined with Marx to contribute significantly to the Johannesburg side’s comprehensive showing at the lineout, with the former South Africa U20 rep bringing in nine of his team’s 21 lineout throws.
Orie’s top-notch display in South America earns him the #4 jersey for the first time in this XV, beating out the likes of Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Scott Barrett (Crusaders), Murray Douglas (Hurricanes), Jackson Hemopo (Highlanders), and Izack Rodda (Reds), all of whom played very well for their franchises.
5 – Tyler Ardron (Chiefs)
Tyler Ardron proved why he has earned the right to be Canada’s only representative in Super Rugby ever with the show he put on in Tokyo.
For a lock to run for 124-metres with ball in hand in just one match is unheard of, and for it to come from a player that represents an underachieving rugby nation is warmly pleasing. The athletic forward was indestructible against the Sunwolves in just his second ever game at this level, which doubled as his first start in Chiefs colours.
His two clean breaks were a sight to behold, with the brilliant run from inside his own 22 that ended up in a try for Solomon Alaimalo particularly enthralling to witness. His pace and awareness to step and dummy a few defenders was great to see from such a big man, and he was rewarded for his actions with a try early on in the encounter.
He was no slouch on defence either, with the 28-test North American smashing his way through eight tackles, and got his side a turnover during their 51-point win. A pair of lineout wins – as well as one of his side’s three steals from an opposition throw – only helped his case for inclusion, and we can expect to see big things for the rest of the season from the 26-year- old.
Adam Coleman (Rebels) did his best to make the cut, as did Sam Lousi (Hurricanes) and Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), but neither of them could replicate the brilliance of Ardron.
6 – Pablo Matera (Jaguares)
The pile of work that Pablo Matera and his fellow loose forward teammates got through for the Jaguares over the weekend was nothing short of stunning.
Matera never took his foot off the gas once throughout his club’s clash with the Lions, which is a hugely significant factor as to why the Argentine’s got the win in front of their home crowd. The blindside flanker constantly looked to get his hands on the ball and take on the South African defence, carrying the ball 14 times to run an impressive 77-metres.
With four defenders beaten from a line break, as well as a cheeky offload and a try assist to his name, Matera put on a spectacle as the Jaguares worked together for arguably their best performance of the year.
It wasn’t just on attack where the 46-test Pumas veteran was effective, with the 24-year- old putting his body on the line to register an equal match-high 16 tackles as the Jaguares tightened up on their often-leaky defence. Three additional turnovers for his side showed that Matera was also highly efficient at the breakdown, which made his performance in Argentina all the more special.
Michael Leitch (Sunwolves), Lachlan Boshier (Chiefs), Angus Cottrell (Rebels), and Siya Kolisi (Stormers) all warrant a mention, but none produced the sort of outing that wowed onlookers like Matera’s did.
7 – Dillon Hunt (Highlanders)
While the Southern Men from Dunedin suffered the first defeat of the 2018 campaign – leaving the competition with no unbeaten teams – Dillon Hunt was exceptional in the way he played in Wellington.
16 was the magic number for the 23-year- old – it was the total number of metres he ran from only three carries, while it was also the number of tackles he made. The latter statistic is the more significant of the two, as his 100% success rate on defence made him the equal highest-tackling openside flanker in the league over the weekend.
With an additional turnover for his side, as well as a solitary offload, the North Harbour-bound loose forward put in a performance that showed by Steve Hansen handed him his All Blacks debut in November last year.
Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks), Adam Korczyk (Reds), and Marcos Kremer (Jaguares) can feel a little unlucky not to make this week’s side after their impressive showings in Melbourne and Cape Town.
8 – Javier Ortega Desio (Jaguares)
No Amanaki Mafi (Rebels) or Akira Ioane (Blues) in the No. 8 spot this week?!
Considering that Ioane had the bye this weekend, that’s one of the two players ruled out. So how come Mafi isn’t here? Well, with Javier Ortega Desio’s significant contribution to the Jaguares’ surprising win over the Lions, it was difficult to leave him out.
The Argentine loose forward was immense. A huge 81-metres ran from a trio of line breaks allowed the 40-test Puma to beat three defenders, and dot down for a pair of tries. He matched his offensive display with a solid, outing at the set piece, as he was used as the host’s primary target at the lineout, winning four of his team’s six throws.
It is this effectiveness across the park that puts the 27-year- old ahead of the likes of Mafi, Caleb Timu (Reds), Nizaam Carr (Stormers), and his opposite, Kwagga Smith (Lions), all of who played well enough to warrant selection had Ortega Desio not put on such a clinic in Buenos Aires.
9 – Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Chiefs)
With the competition for the third-string All Blacks halfback spot wide open following the departure of Tawera Kerr-Barlow to La Rochelle, Te Toirora Tahuriorangi was handed his first start in Chiefs colours for their clash against the Sunwolves.
Not only did he do a fantastic job of staking a claim to become a regular starter at halfback for the franchise against one-test regular Brad Weber, he also made a superb case for the All Blacks selectors, who are scanning the country in search of a third tier All Blacks halfback.
With Weber, August Pulu (Blues), Mitchell Drummond, and Bryn Hall (both Crusaders) all waiting in the wings, Tahuriorangi did all he could to impress the national coaches, and that he surely must have done with his spectacle in Tokyo. Two clean breaks, 54-metres ran, and a whopping three try assists showed his statistical value on attack, while his general running game combined with his slick, front-foot ball for first-five Damian McKenzie to work with was a pleasure to behold.
To be able to beat out Dewaldt Duvenage (Stormers), Louis Schreuder (Sharks), and TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) takes a performance of high calibre, and that is exactly what Tahuriorangi delivered over the weekend.
10 – Damian McKenzie (Chiefs)
Perhaps the company of Tahuriorangi inside of him influenced how well he played, but regardless of his halves partner, Damian McKenzie was always going to run riot from the pivot position against the Sunwolves on the firm, dry track at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.
The man attacks with an offensive elegance about him that nobody in the game, other than possibly Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), has, and it was there for all to see in Japan. The 12-test All Black raced around the park for 74-metres, making three clean breaks and beating four defenders en route to playing a part in four of his team’s nine tries, assisting two and score a brace himself.
Fantasy Super Rugby managers across the southern hemisphere will be rejoicing if they had the 22-year- old excitement machine in their squads, as not only did he wreak havoc with the pill in his mitts, he blazed his way through the scoreboard. Racking in an additional eight conversions to supplement his two dot downs, match day points tally came to an astonishing total of 26 points.
His grip on the backup All Blacks first-five spot over the injured Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders) and the departing Lima Sopoaga (Highlanders) seems to be tightening as the competition wears on, with only Barrett – who was also outstanding in his side’s 29-12 win over the Highlanders – ahead of him in the national pecking order.
Sopoaga, Elton Jantjies (Lions), Damian Willemse (Stormers), Jack Debrczeni (Rebels), and Robert du Preez (Sharks) all put in shifts worthy of mention across the weekend.
11 – Solomon Alaimalo (Chiefs)
The left-wing position was by far the most difficult position to pick for this week, with almost every #11 that played over the weekend posting monumental figures as the big men and the speedsters on the left-hand flank ripped and tore through the opposition.
However, there can only be one winner, and that’s gone to Solomon Alaimalo, who takes the spot by a whisker. As you can start to see, there is somewhat of a flow-on effect from the inside halves pairing of Tahuriorangi and McKenzie, which unlocked the attacking threats of the rest of the backline.
As a result of the natural attacking ingenuity of the Chiefs #9 and #10, as well as their astute distribution of the ball, players like Alaimalo were given a free pass to do as they please on attack, and that is exactly what the youngster did in Tokyo.
Having run past four defenders for 82-metres from three clean breaks, the 22-year- old continued to build on his magnificent second season with the Hamilton franchise, as he picked up his third and fourth tries of the campaign, while setting up another one for his side.
In fact, between him, McKenzie, and Tahuriorangi, the trio set up two-thirds of their team’s tries, highlighting how much of a weapon this Chiefs backline can be.
Alaimalo’s stat line was enough for him to fight off a tsunami of other left wings eligible for this week’s side, which included George Bridge (Crusaders), Marika Koroibete (Rebels), Hosea Saumaki (Sunwolves), Tevita Li (Highlanders), Ben Lam (Hurricanes), Raymond Rhule (Stormers), and probably Alaimalo’s biggest threat to this week’s spot, Emiliano Boffelli(Jaguares), who had an incredible match against the Lions.
12 – Bill Meakes (Rebels)
The second-five spot was another tightly-contested position to pick, but it’s Bill Meakes from the Melbourne Rebels who reigns supreme.
Meakes had the uncanny ability to breach the Sharks’ defence time and time again during his side’s 46-14 thrashing of the South Africans at AAMI Park. Five times the 27-year- old breached the opposition defensive line to run 65 metres, with more than half the Sharks defenders (eight) were left in the uncapped midfielder’s wake.
With a try to cap off a memorable show, it may not be long before Meakes’ status of being uncapped remains the same if he can continue to churn out onslaughts like this one.
Damian de Allende (Stormers) continued to prove why he’s South Africa’s most consistent second-five against the Reds, while Tei Walden (Highlanders) did his best to nullify the blockbusting prominence of Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes) in Wellington, and Bautista Ezcurra (Jaguares) was a surprise standout in Buenos Aires.
13 – Jack Goodhue (Crusaders)
After a three-week absence from the side, Jack Goodhue returns to stamp his authority on the #13 jersey following his dominant performance against the Bulls in Christchurch.
The one-match All Black centre showed colossal strength in both of his tries during his team’s 33-14 win at AMI Stadium, as he drove through a total of four Bulls defenders from close range to the tryline to become a near-unstoppable force from close range.
His compact ball-carrying saw him crash through for 27-metres, while his defensive solidity also shone through, as he made a commendable 10 tackles – trailing just Billy Harmon (13 tackles) as the Crusaders’ most prolific tackler over the weekend. His all-round capabilities means a full test debut for the All Blacks this year is almost a certainty for the youngster, which is promising with the World Cup just 18 months away.
Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs) joined in on the Chiefs’ demolishment of the Sunwolves, EW Viljoen (Stormers) made another surprisingly strong statement in Cape Town, while his opposite Samu Kerevi (Reds) was industrious on attack.
14 – Filipo Daugunu (Reds)
Just like on the other wing, there were a raft of players who put their hands up for the right wing spot, but it was Filipo Daugunu who manages to walk away with it this week.
The former goalkeeper for the Fijian U20 football side has made huge strides in rugby at Super Rugby level, as his week six statistics reflect. A mammoth 134-metres ran with the ball was largely all made by a 97-metre dart for the line in the second, but that play alone is almost worthy of Daugunu’s inclusion in the round’s TOTW.
His pace and elusiveness, as well as his hot stepping ability, made his five-pointer arguably try of the week, with Vince Aso’s (Hurricanes) spectacular try in the right-hand corner against the Highlanders the biggest threat to that accolade.
Additionally, he also ran another 37-metres, which helped him clock up six broken tackles and a duo of line breaks. Daugunu didn’t slack off on defence either, with his seven tackles and good work over the ball at the breakdown helping the Queenslanders win two turnovers.
A plethora of other 14’s warrant mention for their displays, such as Travis Ismaiel (Bulls), Sefa Naivalu (Rebels), Semisi Masirewa (Sunwolves), Toni Pulu (Chiefs), Waisake Naholo (Highlanders), Sylvian Mahuza (Lions), and Bautista Delguy (Jaguares).
15 – Joaquin Tuculet (Jaguares)
While it was a relatively quiet weekend for the fullbacks across the league, there were a few who stood out amongst the rest, but it is Joaquin Tuculet who will take the honours this week for his role in the Jaguares’ display against the Lions.
He made himself a constant threat with the pill in hand from the back of the park, carrying the ball 11 times to chalk up 66-metres. The 51-test veteran managed a try assist to illustrate his attacking efforts. He was defensively astute as well, finishing the match with a 100% tackle completion rate, rounding out a solid contribution to his side’s win, which goes
under the label of upset of the week.
The number 15 jersey could have gone to a range of other fullbacks across the competition. Jack Maddocks (Rebels) continues to make himself an intriguing prospect for Wallabies coach Michael Chieka, while Aidan Toua (Reds) battled hard in a losing effort against the Stormers.
Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes) and Ben Smith (Highlanders) dueled each other well at Westpac Stadium in a battle between arguably the two best fullbacks in New Zealand, while David Havili (Crusaders) was solid in all areas of his match.
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Nice one Nick. He actually reminds me of more physical David Knox - those deft passes to keep the defences guessing still burns in my memory.Go to comments
Great piece Nick - as always. Rassie would snap you up as an analyst - he began his journey in international rugby as just that - for Jake White who has said many times that the WC isn’t won by attack but by defence. And the key to defence is in the centre. Le Roux and Muller, Steyn and Fourie, de Allende and Am pairings have two things in common. WC winners and outstanding defending combinations. Ringrose and Henshaw are very nearly as good on the defence better on attack than any of the SA combinations. If those two combinations (SA and Irish centre parings) face off in the WC first round it is going to be interesting. I think those two combinations are certainly the most settled and arguably the two best in the world.,Go to comments