15. Israel Folau (Waratahs)
It was hard to see anyone displace Gareth Anscombe after the hat-trick he scored on Friday, but one man made everyone sit up with his superior performance in Port Elizabeth against the Southern Kings. Folau has now scored a try in every one of the Waratahs’ last four outings and I suspect he is going to keep doing so as his confidence grows in leaps and bounds. He wreaked havoc among the Kings defenders and assisted in two other tries.
14. Cam Crawford (Waratahs)
In only his third run out this season, Crawford crossed the line for a hat-trick and together with the rest of the Waratahs’ barnstorming trio at the back, proved way too skilled for the struggling Kings. He couldn’t get his hands on the ball very often against the Bulls a week ago, but made sure he was in the right place at the right time during their clash at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as he assisted his team in their eleven try hammering.
13. Robbie Fruean (Crusaders)
He might not have scored a try, but he had a busy day in midfield and kept the defenders busy as well as always being on the look-out for supporting runner. He also played a vital role in the try Israel Dagg scored from a counter attack in the Crusaders own 22.
12. Jean de Villiers (Stormers)
The Stormers skipper might well ask himself why his team failed to play the entire match with the intensity they showed in the final quarter and it seems he took matters into his own hands with two very well worked tries on top of an impressive defensive effort and some sparkling runs, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to outscore the Blues on Friday.
11. Digby Ioane (Reds)
His team might not be happy with the draw they were held to by a stubborn Force side, but nobody can point a finger at the efforts of the controversial left winger. He was all over the park and it was a matter of millimetres that prevented him from giving his team an early lead.
10. Colin Slade (Highlanders)
There were quite a few influential and accredited fly-halves displaying their skills this weekend, but nobody had a more telling impact than the Highlanders pivot. He might not have found his target off the tee as often as his team would’ve liked, but the way he kept the visiting Sharks on the back foot together with his precise distribution and solid defense undoubtedly played a huge role in the Highlanders’ first win of the season.
9. Nick Phipps (Rebels)
He might not be in the run for a Wallaby jumper, but Phipps put forth a very instrumental performance as his team nearly upstaged the defending champions. On top of scoring a try, he made a couple of sniping runs and helped expose some weaknesses in the Chiefs defensive structure. In all likeliness his best day out this season.
8. Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)
A big question mark hung over his decision to trade the Reds jumper for a Rebels one, but it has become apparent that the big backrower is thriving in his role as captain and playing some real good rugby as leader of the Melbourne squad. He would probably be the most disappointed of all that his team fell just short of toppling the Chiefs and had I been part of the Blues team to face them this coming weekend, I would make sure not to underestimate the playmaking abilities of these guys.
7. Sam Cane (Chiefs)
It practically came to a draw between Michael Hooper’s prolific breakdown play and that of Cane. In the end, I had to also consider the opposition and were it not for the mammoth amount of tackles put in by the Chiefs opensider, they might’ve crawled home tail between the legs.
6. Steven Luatua (Blues)
This youngster must be one of the finds of the year, producing yet another outstanding performance against the Stormers. It was blatantly clear that in order to win the war against the Cape Town team you first need to win the battle at the breakdown, and this man delivered yet again. Not only is he an extremely secure defender, but he possesses unrivalled ball in hand skills when he goes on the run.
5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
Not a flashy type of player, but nevertheless a tower of strength in the Chiefs’ line-out and one who doesn’t shy away from the hard work on the ground. He stood his ground against the relentless Rebels runners and was rewarded with a try for his supporting efforts when the Chiefs took their turn at charging for the white wash.
4. Hugh Pyle (Rebels)
Prior to the match I expected to see a noteworthy battle between the powering Pyle and aforementioned Retallick, but by no means did I think we’d be treated to three tries by these two lofty locks, a brace to the ranking Rebel. He piled on a number of barging runs and broke tackles almost at will.
3. Owen Franks (Crusaders)
As opposed to his brother’s somewhat wayward performances of late, this Franks provided a solid platform for the Crusaders in the scrum, doing a lot of hard work around the park without putting a foot wrong.
2. Kyle Cooper (Sharks)
In the absence of the notorious Bismarck du Plessis, Kyle Cooper has been nothing short of a revelation for the Sharks. He carries the ball strongly, finds his jumpers and has shown that he has quite a bit of speed to burn when given the space.
1. Dean Greyling (Bulls)
He is known as “Wors” (Sausage) among his Bulls teammates, his middle name really is MacGyver and as with his idol from the television show, you know you can always count on Greyling to come up with a plan at scrum time. The Bulls absolutely murdered the Hurricanes at the set phase and a lot of credit must be bestowed upon this workhorse who bagged himself a very well-deserved try early in the second half.
by Jackie Smit