15. Jesse Mogg (Brumbies)
Unless disaster suddenly strikes, there can be no doubt as to who should sport the number 15 wallaby jersey this year. The marsupial-like flying machine roaming the outskirts of the Brumby pack is making no secret of his intentions. It took Moggy less than five minutes to cross for the first try by slicing through the defense like a hot knife through butter. Honourable mention must also go to Israel Dagg for the influential part he played as the Crusader tamed the Bulls.
14. Lelia Masaga (Chiefs)
Last week it was Kade Poki who scored a hat-trick, this week it was Masaga who earns the glory in what is turning out to be a try-fest of a season. The Chiefs winger proved to be a very hard man to stop once he got a sniff of the try-line. Both Tom Marshall and Henry Speight worked hard for their individual teams, too.
13. Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)
Wellington’s captain played his heart out and lead from the front as the Canes got their season back on track. For the first time this season we saw the Smithy of old, breaking through tackle after tackle as he kept getting his troops on the front foot. Robbie Fruean could be considered unlucky not to have made the team, whilst Adam Ashley-Cooper put in a flawless performance.
12. Andrew Horrell (Chiefs)
For the second week in a row Robert Ebersohn registered a serious tackle count and is only just edged out. It was the magical moves of the Chiefs inside centre that caught the eye most as he created havoc each time he touched the ball.
11. Raymond Rhule (Cheetahs)
After a weekend where no fewer than fifteen tries were scored by outside backs, it was rather difficult to narrow it down, but this Cheetahs fast man was excellent. Not only did he position himself beautifully throughout the match, he showed bags of skill and speed for his brace of tries that sealed the deal for the visiting corn farmers. Peter Betham and Hosea Gear also played exceptionally well.
10. Matt Toomua (Brumbies)
In my opinion this little pivot is truly coming into his own this season, showing his worth more and more in attack as well as defense. He had a hand in everything the Brumbies did and was duly rewarded early in the first half as they dismantled the Sharks. Dan Carter is returning to form and Sias Ebersohn’s general distribution of the ball and much improved kicking abilities were key in the Force’s success over the Reds.
9. Alby Mathewson (Force)
Inspirational is only one of the words one can use to describe the type of game the half-back had. Most expected him to be overshadowed by the return of Wallaby Will Genia, but the scrummy took it upon his shoulders to engineer a turn of events that shocked the Super Rugby nation by completely outshining his direct opponent. Sarel Pretorius also had another noteworthy day at the office for the Cheetahs.
8. Fotu Auelua (Brumbies)
Earned his first start for the season and brought a new dimension of physicality to the Australian franchise as he took the ball up with so much power that he won collision after collision to soften up the Sharks defenders. Fifty minutes later, the damage was done and all the Canberra men had to do was keep cool and stick to basics.
7. George Smith (Brumbies)
Stepped in after David Pocock suffered a season-ending injury and never looked back. The veteran is as industrious as ever; winning turn-overs, setting up phases and getting over the gain-line at will with his rampaging runs. Pieter Labuschagne puts in too many hits to ignore him.
6. George Whitelock (Crusaders)
The eldest of the Whitelock brothers devastated the Bulls’ defence, making countless runs and clocking many metres, while also making sure nobody got past him. Deon Stegmann deserves some praise as he scored the Bulls’ solitary try and defended like a madman.
5. Francois Uys (Cheetahs)
Did real damage around the park, literally caused Berrick Barnes to leave the field when the latter had to put his body on the line to stop the barnstorming second rower from scoring a try. He made a couple of telling runs and was solid in defence. Hugh McMeniman was a tower of strength for the Force and could easily also have made the team.
4. Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
Sader Sam wasted no time in disrupting the Bulls’ line-out sufficiently to prevent them from using their notorious mauls in the early stages, which gave the home team an enormous psychological advantage.
3. Paddy Ryan (Waratahs)
Every time this energetic youngster runs onto the park, he does more than just fill the shoes of Sekope Kepu, he bursts out of them and through many a tackle as well. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands as he was a menace in the scrums and generally ran around more like a classy centre, offloading and stepping.
2. Hika Elliott (Chiefs)
In his first full game of the season, the mobile hooker from Hamilton had himself a blinder. Not only did he kill the Kings in contact, his handling skills and flight-footedness manage to create cracks in the opposition’s otherwise sturdy defence.
1. Ben Franks (Hurricanes)
Seems to have settled in after his move from the Crusaders and really showing that there is a lot more to the loosehead than steady power at scrum time. My favourite moment was when he effortlessly bumped Ben Smith from his path to the try line to dot down his first five-pointer for his new franchise.
By Jackie Smit