With those and all the other results in mind, find out who made Alex McLeod’s Super Rugby Team of the Week for Round 12.
The pool of stand-out loosehead props to pick from for this week’s side was rather scarce, but the display made by Wyatt Crockett was pleasing to see. The retiring All Blacks prop was part of a dynamic Crusaders outfit that ripped apart the Rebels in a dominant second half of footy at AAMI Park, with his contribution to the 55-10 mauling of the hosts being reasonably significant.
Linking up with Andrew Makalio and Owen Franks to form a powerful front row, the trio worked in tandem to obliterate the Rebels’ scrum, finishing the match with a 100% success rate, as well as winning two scrums against the head. Individually, the 35-year- old was on point, making a rare clean break to score an even rarer Super Rugby try – just his 11th in 195 outings for the Crusaders. His solid effort on defence was satisfactory, and with that, he wins a one-horse race to claim this week’s #1 jersey.
2 – Andrew Makalio (Crusaders)
What a match this was by backup hooker Andrew Makalio. It’s not often you see the Crusaders field a team without Codie Taylor in the starting line-up, and Makalio took his chance as if there was no tomorrow.
As previously mentioned, Makalio was sandwiched between Crockett and Franks to make up an outstanding Crusaders front row that dominated proceedings at the scrum.
Makalio provided onlookers with far more than an exceptional scrummaging performance though. The 26-year- old had a nose for the tryline at AAMI Park, running 23 metres to score not one, but two of his team’s eight tries in the demolition job in Melbourne.
His massive frame made for an explosive highlights reel from the #2, and we hope to see more of it whenever Taylor is absent from the Crusaders’ starting side.
Breathing down Makalio’s neck for this week’s hooker spot was Akker van der Merwe (Sharks), who played superbly against the Highlanders in Durban, while a raft of other contenders – including Julian Montoya (Jaguares), James Parsons (Blues), and Ricky Riccitelli (Hurricanes) – all impressed.
Louw was in fine form against the Bulls at Newlands on the weekend, constantly looking for work with ball in hand as he carried it seven times during his time on the field.
A total of 11 metres is decent for a prop, and the Stormers got even more bang for their buck when their #3 crashed over for a try that would help steer them to a 29-17 victory in Cape Town.
Defensively, Louw was unbeatable, attempting seven tackles and completing every single one of them to post an unblemished record on the opposite side of the ball. Du Toit (Sharks) played similarly to his compatriot during the Sharks’ rout of the
Highlanders, and it will be a tight battle as to who will start in the #3 jersey for the Springboks against Wales and England next month.
For now, it’s Louw who takes the glory, as he takes his spot in round 12’s TOTW.
4 – Scott Barrett (Crusaders)
It seems the rugby world can’t get enough of Beauden and Jordie Barrett. The two Hurricanes maestros set matches alight every time they step out onto the rugby field, but spare a thought for brother Scott, who ploughed his way through a truckload of work for the Crusaders in Melbourne on Friday night.
With the 24-year- old scrapping it out between Super Rugby teammate Luke Romano and Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues) for the likely sole back-up spot behind incumbent All Black locks Brodie Retallick (Chiefs) and Sam Whitelock (Crusaders) for next month’s test series against France, Barrett had to step his game up.
He did exactly that across all aspects of play during his side’s thrashing of the Rebels. Barrett was productive with his 10 carries while in possession of the ball, beating two defenders to chalk up 19 metres, with which he used to record a try assist.
Add to that a perfect tackling record of eight from eight, as well as winning four of his team’s nine lineout throws, and Barrett can probably consider himself safely locked into Hansen’s squad, which is due to be named in less than a fortnight, as well as this round’s TOTW.
Vaea Fifita (Hurricanes) loomed as Barrett’s biggest threat to his inclusion in the team this week.
5 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers)
While the Stormers have been without star man Eben Etzebeth for the entirety of their campaign thus far, the limelight in their forward pack has been well and truly stolen by the ever-impressive Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Difficult to miss with his bright blonde mop, du Toit put together arguably the most complete performance of any player in Super Rugby over the course of the weekend.
Whether it be on attack, defence, or at the set piece, the 25-year- old was a menace to handle for the Bulls.
Raking in 21 metres with ball in hand from 10 carries, du Toit was industrious while in possession of the ball. He managed to make one clean break, and finished the match with a try assist.
However, it’s on defence where he impressed the most. The 32-test Springbok made a match-high 16 tackles, as well as securing the equal-most turnovers with two pilfers to his name.
Du Toit all of this while also winning seven of his side’s 12 lineout throws and picking off one of the Bulls’ lineout just for good measure. The all-round nature of his game at Newlands was spectacular, and if his reputation as one of the household names was ever in any doubt, he comprehensively answered his critics.
His side may have gone down in a losing effort, but Marnus Schoeman can hold his head up high for a simply exceptional outing against the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium.
The 29-year- old, currently on loan from Currie Cup side Pumas, made a statement of intent in Wellington that may have Lions officials wanting to secure his services on a full-time deal to offset the departure of Jaco Kriel to Gloucester.
He scored one of his team’s three tries, but only after notching up the most running metres (25) by any players in the Lions’ forward pack from just six carries. He slipped out of the tackle attempts of four defenders and made himself a handful.
It gets better for Schoeman, whose presence on defence was most certainly felt by the Hurricanes in their 28-19 victory. His 21 tackles were the most made by any player in Wellington, and he managed to win a pair of turnovers to cause a few headaches for Chris Boyd’s men.
While the services of Tomas Lezana (Jaguares), Pete Samu (Crusaders), and Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks) were all hard to ignore, Schoeman’s performance is one worthy of reward in the form of inclusion in TOTW.
7 – Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)
Considering the number of brilliant performances by #7’s across the competition over the weekend, it took a special effort by Ardie Savea to earn himself selection in this week’s XV.
Since his return from a rib injury against the Sunwolves last week, the tearaway openside flanker has been in stunning form. He was a behemoth as a ball runner in the Kiwi capital, coming away with a huge 80 running metres from three tackle busts and two line breaks.
With numbers like those it should come as no surprise that he managed to cash in and score one the Hurricanes’ four tries.
He may have been all glitz and glamour with ball in hand, but Savea didn’t shy away from the tough stuff either, pulling his weight with 11 tackles and winning a team-high two turnovers. It’s this sort of impact from players such as Savea that is going to give the
Hurricanes the edge as the competition progresses and reaches the play-off stage.
Matt Todd (Crusaders) led the plethora of other contenders for Savea’s spot in this week’s side, along with Marcos Kremer (Jaguares), Michael Hooper (Waratahs), Jason Jenkins (Bulls), Dan du Preez (Sharks), and Dillon Hunt (Highlanders).
8 – Amanaki Mafi (Rebels)
While many other No. 8s across the league put his spot in this week’s side under review, the Japanese international made sure that he was the shining light for the Rebels during their thumping at the hands of the Crusaders.
In an outing that fans have become accustomed to since welcoming Mafi into Super Rugby, the 28-year- old ripped his way through an all-star Crusaders forward pack for 83 metres, with a pair of clean breaks and defenders beaten to his name.
His powerful influence on the offensive side of the Rebels’ game is frequently the aspect which that he is praised and celebrated for, but his work on defence deserves just as much credit. 12 tackles proves that he can offer more than just hard, direct running ability, and without him, who knows where the Rebels would be at this stage of the season.
Javier Ortega Desio (Jaguares) and Kwagga Smith (Lions) both made big cases for inclusion in this week’s team, while Jordan Taufua (Crusaders) joined in on the riot act that his side inflicted on the Rebels.
9 – Mitchell Drummond (Crusaders)
Mitchell Drummond is fighting to add to his solitary All Blacks match ahead of the French test series next month, and with the likes of Brad Weber (Chiefs), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Chiefs), and teammate Bryn Hall (Crusaders) challenging him for his spot, he needed to deliver big in Melbourne.
With chances limited at the Crusaders due to the playing capabilities of Hall, it was a rare occurrence to see Drummond donning the #9 jersey, but he took it as well as he could have, taking advantage of his side’s thrashing of the Rebels to conjure up a superb display.
The 24-year- old was excellent with his snipes from around the fringes of the rucks, picking up 46 metres from only four carries. His ability to break through the shackles of the opposition defence so freely earned him a try assist.
His high tackle completion percentage is also worthy of note, as is the turnover that he won for his side, showing he’s no slouch when it comes to defensive responsibilities.
Drummond may not be the favourite for the third All Blacks spot two weeks out from Steve Hansen’s squad announcement, but his match in Melbourne certainly would have forced the All Blacks coach to sit up and consider him.
Fellow All Blacks halfback contenders August Pulu (Blues) was solid in his first start since a foot injury that ruled him out since March, while Dewaldt Duvenage (Stormers) did well for the second week running.
10 – Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)
Two Barrett boys make this week’s cut, with big brother Beauden getting in on the action as the round’s premier first-five in Super Rugby.
The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year was electric while running the cutter against the Lions on Saturday evening, scampering away for a whopping 104 metres from only seven carries, the majority of those coming from the pair of clean breaks he made.
He fronted up on defence, making a respectable nine tackles as the Lions thrashed their way through the inside channels, and kicked all four of his conversion attempts to leave Westpac Stadium with a 100% goal kicking record.
All in all, it was a performance worthy of selection for Barrett, who beats out compatriots Damian McKenzie (Chiefs) and Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders), as well as Springboks contender Robert du Preez (Sharks).
11 – Ben Lam (Hurricanes)
In fact, the only way that he couldn’t break it would be if he somehow managed to injure himself in one of the Hurricanes’ remaining seven matches of the season, which would be a travesty for the All Blacks selectors, who will surely hand him a debut selection ahead of the upcoming French tour.
The fact that he is being so heavily touted for a national call-up is a testament of how well he has played this season, and that didn’t change against the Lions. He scooped up his second hat-trick of the year, and with it came his 10th, 11th, and 12th tries
in 2018, leaving him only three tries shy of the record with just under half the season still to come.
Those tries only came after he used his raw pace, power and strength to plough through three defenders to make three clean breaks, culminating in a grand total of 73 metres ran.
A 100% tackle completion rate highlights his defensive ability, and Blues will be quivering in their boots at the prospect of having to halt the big man in his tracks at Eden Park this weekend.
12 – Rieko Ioane (Blues)
At last Rieko Ioane finally delivers a compelling performance in the second-five jersey, six matches after coach Tana Umaga first placed him there against the Sharks in round seven. With Ioane unleashing his prodigious talents on the Waratahs defence, the Blues were able to sneak away with their third win of the year, solidifying the theory that if Rieko plays well, then the Blues play well.
The 13-test All Black posted some massive numbers at Brookvale Oval: 121 metres ran from two clean breaks and 10 defenders beaten were unparalleled by any other players in the competition over the weekend. He bagged himself a try, and would have had another if it wasn’t for the incredible covering tackle of Cam Clark five metres from his own line.
Ioane was defensively astute as well, making a total of 12 tackles and winning a turnover to form a brick wall of defence alongside midfield partner Orbyn Leger. All things considered, this made the 21-year- old the best second-five in the competition over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes) and Andre Esterhuizen (Sharks) were their usual rock-solid selves, while Kurtley Beale’s (Waratahs) role as a second playmaker was effective in a losing effort for his side.
13 – Jack Goodhue (Crusaders)
Jack Goodhue will be in serious contention to be the All Blacks’ starting centre against the French in a few weeks’ time, as performances like the one he made for the Crusaders on Friday night could be too difficult for Steve Hansen and co to turn down.
The Crusaders were reminded of how much they missed the youngster during his three-match injury-enforced absence. His level-headed aura and ability to dictate play in the backline from the middle of the park is vital to the reigning champions’ success, and it could be key for the All Blacks too.
Statistically speaking, he ran for a solid 41 metres, and beat a trio of defenders in the process. He was rewarded for his efforts with a try in the second half, where he steamed onto a short ball from close range in a well-timed, well-angled run towards the line.
His defensive precision was also evident, completing all seven of his tackles to help restrict the Rebels to only 10 points. The combination of both the tangible and intangible attributes that made his appearance across the ditch so good is what earns him a place in this week’s team.
His biggest threat was Lukanyo Am (Sharks) who was part of a near-unstoppable Sharks side that down the Highlanders at Kings Park.
14 – Seta Tamanivalu (Crusaders)
He managed to break the line with almost half of the carries that he made, breaching the opposition defence four times from his 11 possession of the ball. That’s a magnificent figure for the three-test utility back, who brought up 74 metres with ball in hand, and played a key role in three of his side’s tries, scoring one and assisting two more.
Tamanivalu’s influence in the Crusaders’ attack was a key contributing factor to their victory at AAMI Park, as was his defence, which saw him make all but one of his tackle attempts.
While his time in the national camp has been limited over the past three seasons, Tamanivalu’s absence from New Zealand will be felt heavily by the Crusaders and the All Black selectors, with the 25-year- old being a key man in providing New Zealand with the
depth of talent they have at their disposal.
Like many of his teammates, Sbu Nkosi (Sharks) was in sparkling form in front of his home crowd against the Highlanders, and wasn’t far off making the cut in the #14 jersey.
15 – Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
What a bright young talent this bloke is. Still only 20-years- old, Curwin Bosch has the ability to provide the Springboks and Sharks wins by the bucket loads in the coming years, and he showed why during his side’s 38-12 thumping of the Highlanders in Durban.
When he gets his mitts on the ball, he is electric. He proved that when he set up Robert du Preez for his try, a sequence of play that started from inside his own half. His agility to round Waisake Naholo and then canter 40-odd metres down the park before flicking away an outrageous offload showed genuine physical and technical skill, and he’ll be a frontrunner for the South African #15 jersey for next month’s international window.
In total, he garnered 97 metres and beat three defenders, with that clean break to set up du Preez’s try counting as his only line break and try assist of the encounter. He also finished with a 100% defensive record, and contributed heavily to the Sharks’ unexpected demolition of the 2015 champions.
Bosch’s outing was good enough to earn him selection ahead of the just-as- impressive Joaquin Tuculet (Jaguares) and the controversial Israel Folau (Waratahs), who returned from a leg injury in stunning fashion against the Blues in Sydney.
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