15. Israel Folau (Waratahs)
There are no words to describe how incredibly skilful the Waratahs’ fullback is. He is a very tall man, gets extreme height when contending for the ball in the air and has a superb pair of hands. Not only did he outrank Bryan Habana for the high ball that resulted in a try for Cam Crawford, but he saw the way Habana shot from the line of defense and made use of the space to score the Tahs’ winning try.
14. Frank Halai (Blues)
The Tongan-born speedster is having a whale of a time during his first Super Rugby season, topping the try scoring leader board with 8 tries. Being a strong runner and having pace to burn is one thing, but the ability to get yourself on the receiving end of that final pass is the difference between an ordinary winger and one that does the job for his team time and again. With great stepping and pace off the mark, the Blues flyer scored three tries and a couple more outings like this might jut see him break Joe Roff’s record this year.
13. Mitch Inman (Rebels)
There wasn’t much in it between the Rebels outside centre and the blues René Ranger, but ultimately I had to opt for the main man from the losing side. However good Ranger was in attack, he had a rather dreadful day in defence which opened the door for Inman who threatened the line with every touch of the ball, scoring two tries in the process by bouncing off defenders with his strong runs.
12. Francis Saili (Blues)
There is no doubt about the destiny of the Blues inside man who should find himself donning an All Black jumper before long. He runs beautiful supporting lines, draws defenders and has the pace to show a clean pair of heels when offered the slightest gap.
11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
Thrill-seeking rugby lovers have been waiting quite some time for Savea to come up with one of his truly amazing individual counter attacks, and boy did he make good on that promise against the Cheetahs, running from his own twenty-two, chipping the ball ahead and the out-sprinting everybody to score a brilliant try. On top of that he was a very busy man all over the park and had to be watched very closely around the clock.
10. Quade Cooper (Reds)
Firstly I must commend both Beauden Barrett and Demetri Catrakilis for the way they guided their respective teams to victory against the odds, hitting the mark when called upon. However, it has become relatively obvious that Quade Cooper should be the man of the moment when Robbie Deans announces his squad. Together with Will Genia they form a formidable combination and Cooper has had a hand in every bit of action as the Reds ran rampant as well as standing his ground when asked to defend.
9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)
The 21-year-old halfback is breathing heavily down the necks of Piri Weepu and Aaron Smith for the opportunity to make his debut for the Kiwi national side. He followed his brace against the Bulls up with another five-pointer in Bloemfontein and the exuberant scrummy has proven to be exceptionally strong and hard to bring down close to the posts.
8. Cornell du Preez (Kings)
South Africa’s sole victorious outfit from Round 13 have been doing a good job of shuffling their loosies, and in the absence of the injured powerhouse Jacques Engelbrecht, it was du Preez who stepped into and filled his shoes quite magnificently at the back of the scrum. He was simply outstanding against the Highlanders, clearly thriving on the additional ball-carrying responsibilities.
7. Luke Watson (Kings)
Leading as captain and player, Watson put in a truly inspirational performance to see his team trump the Highlanders. The impact he made off the bench against the Waratahs underlined his return to form and saw him promoted to the starting line-up again where he ran amok with ball in hand and stopped the opposition dead in their tracks. When he scored his second try on the stroke of half-time to reclaim the lead for the Kings, his passionate celebration made it crystal clear how much success means to the rookie franchise.
6. Heinrich Brussow (Cheetahs)
Not a match goes by without him poaching a ball or two and this time around was no different as he made life as hard as possible for the men from Wellington without conceding a single penalty for the fourth consecutive game – completely banishing the issue for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. There was nothing wrong with the hardworking performance of the blindside flanker and had he had more support from the rest of the Cheetahs forwards, the scoreline might have read differently.
5. Andries Bekker (Stormers)
For a change he focussed his energy on doing the hard work on the ground, not messing around in midfield. He was a menace in the line-outs and created a mountain of problems for the Waratahs in that area. Bekker put in plenty of big tackles that prevented the Tahs speedsters to hit their straps.
4. Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes)
He had a wild look in his eyes as the Canes walked off the bus and from the moment the first whistle blew it was obvious that he was there to break necks and cash cheques. Played a big part in disrupting the Cheetahs’ attempts at a driving maul in addition to making some brutal runs and putting in his fair share of bruising blocks.
3. Angus Ta’avao (Blues)
With so much flair amongst the backs, it is important that the forwards make the hard yards and create the front foot ball. No need to look further than the Blues’ industrious tighthead who showed some great skill with the pass to Halai which opened the Aucklanders account.
2. Bandise Maku (Kings)
Always in the thick of things and getting his hands dirty, the nuggety little rake put in a powerful performance for the Kings. He had his priorities in line by firstly making sure he got the basics right – throwing in straight at the lineout and clearing the rucks – before exploiting the Landers’ lacklustre defense to put his teammates into space. Produced a beauty of a pass to put scrumhalf Shaun Venter over for the home side’s bonus point try.
1.Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs)
When asked about that hit on Jack Lam, the Cheetahs’ bus humbly said that perhaps he caught Lam on the wrong foot and he felt bad for the guy. It was another day of demolition for the versatile Cheetahs prop as he battered his way over defenders and forced his way across the whitewash for a brace of tries.
by Jackie Smit