Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round 6

aplon sidesteps coleman

15. Ben Smith (Highlanders)
In a hapless team that appears to be going nowhere fast, this fullback hasn’t put a foot wrong. His strong defense kept the scoreline reputable and he is a strong runner with loads of skill. The fact that Louis Ludik scored two tries was hard to deny, but the Sharks forwards overshadowed him in that particular feeding frenzy and although he had a solid performance, he wasn’t nearly as visible as Ben Smith.

14. Gio Aplon (Stormers)
They say dynamite comes in small packages and this little busybody is the living embodiment of that statement. His stepping made it look like Robbie Coleman’s feet were nailed to the grass. Newlands’ roof nearly blew off when he crossed for that first try, creating the spark that was needed to end the Brumbies winning streak and pocketing a rare four-try bonus point. Kade Poki is another Highlander bursting from his seams with speed and power; unfortunately his team is unable to properly make use of his abilities.

13. Tim Nanai-Williams (Chiefs)
Some might say that the Chiefs looked rather sluggish on Friday, but we’ll forgive that in view of their long travel back. The Waikato midfielder, however, was as energetic as ever, pouncing on anything loose and scored an opportunistic try that in hindsight probably took the wind from the Highlanders’ sails.

12. Kyle Godwin (Force)
I had to hold my breath every time the ball was given to this inside center. He looked dangerous with the pill in hand, breaking numerous tackles as he surged for the line and kept the door shut on the Free State flyers. Rob Horne was also solid on defense and did a lot of hard work for the Waratahs; therefore he deserves a mention as well.

11. Drew Mitchell (Waratahs)
A week after being dropped from the team, Mitchell delivered a performance that essentially kept his team in the game even when they seemed to be losing it. He was determined to get over the advantage line after he scored the early try, and together with Horne, Foley and Ashley-Cooper, really lifted their team’s game in the second half to secure a much sought-after victory.

10. Quade Cooper (Reds)
It is my opinion that the Reds’ flyhalf has put his dancing shoes back on now that Genia is back to inspire him. Cooper outsmarted the Bulls throughout the match, making a good break and perfect offload for the first try and then completely fooled the defenders to dot down under the posts. Not to mention that his kicking is improving with every game. I must also mention that Cheetahs’ Riaan Smit did an admirable job in the absence of Johan Goosen, slotting all the goals in their match against a fierce Force side.

genia 1

9. Will Genia (Reds)
Never mind Quade Cooper, this little genius is the rudder around which the Reds move. When he is not there, they totally lose their way, which was again evident this weekend. Genia is the mastermind behind their attack, calling all the shots and relentlessly latching onto anyone who threatens the line. The manner in which he combines with Cooper is absolutely sublime and quite cardinal to their success. For the Sharks, Cobus Reinach had a massive game, clearing rucks swiftly and scoring a try.

8. Keegan Daniel (Sharks)
The Sharks skipper obviously took the humiliation from the previous week very personally and lifted his own game to a whole new level. Keegan made an early break from the scrum that lead to the home team’s first try and not long after powered his way over the line to score himself a five-pointer and a bonus point for his team. He was unstoppable in midfield, running the ball, putting players in space with great offloads – a true captain’s innings. The Crusaders’ Kieran Read also made quite a nuisance of himself against the Kings and could rightfully feel robbed at not being in this team, with Cheetahs’ Philip van der Walt also deserving a mention for the impact he has on attack and the amount of tackles he makes.

7. Sam Cane (Chiefs)
It was his defensive work and pilfering abilities that proved vital for the Chiefs and swung my vote ahead od George Smith. Matt Todd also worked hard under the radar, at least pocketing a try for his efforts.

6. George Whitelock (Crusaders)
Three tries undoubtedly get you a place in this team, especially if you work hard for them. It is an art to be in the right place at the right time, and this Whitelock brother seems to have perfected it. He was everywhere on the field, handling the ball on countless occasions as well as displaying great strength to break through the Kings defence.

5. Andries Bekker (Stormers)
No doubt the Stormers lock was out to prove a point in retrospect of all the talk about physicality prior to their clash with the Brumbies. We were entertained with plenty of bone-crushing tackles by the big man as well as a show of great skill and awareness as he ran excellent angles of the backs, making him hard to stop and enabling him to cross for two tries.

4. Pieter-Steph du Toit (Sharks)
Anton Bresler’s backup man really put his hand up for more starts. The youngster carried the ball strongly, always ready to offload if the opportunity was there and can consider himself unlucky not to have scored a try during the feeding fest.

3. Paddy Ryan (Waratahs)
Paddy Ryan had a slightly bigger influence on his team’s surprise victory than the impressive role Wiehahn Herbst played during his time on the field for the Sharks. Therefore, the barnstorming Waratahs tighthead claim his spot in the Team of the Week for the second week in a row.

2. Kyle Cooper (Sharks)
Got the starting line-up nod from his coach after making enough noteworthy run-ons and certainly grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He ticked all the boxes; running, passing, offloading. Really impressed with strong scrum work and exemplary line-out throws, just reward being the try he scored early in the second half.

beast 1 cropped

1. Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)
The Beast is back. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Beast actually run over and through defenders instead of just dropping to the ground. The hiding they got from the Brumbies and ensuing stern words obviously hit the mark to urge this powerful man to pull up his socks. It was awesome to see him carrying the ball with more purpose as well as scrummaging like a machine.

by Jackie Smit

7 thoughts on “Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round 6

  1. Jackie, what do you think has gone wrong for the Highlanders this year? I thought they had bought well and expected them to be conference contenders this year. Not had chance to watch them since their first game ding dong with the Chiefs, didn’t think they were second best by much on that day, what has gone wrong since?

    1. Well Matt, I suspect some off the ball stuff that’s interfering with the players’ mindset, but that’s all it is – a suspicion. On the field, they have all the ammo, but no-one’s pulling the trigger. The run the ball, get into spaces, not at all “boring” rugby, but they’re not finishing anything. Handling errors, sloppy passes, silly penalties – all and all just very unprofessional play. The talent is there, no doubt, just not the execution.

      They’re playing early Easter Friday morning, against the Reds of all snooze inducing teams, and I’ve been in two minds about getting up to watch it or not. If you are up to such an early start on a day off, this would be the one. I reckon the Highlanders will pull themselves together sufficiently enough to record their first win.

    2. I forgot to add that they’re definitely missing Adam Thomson – the forwards are hitting the ball up nicely, but no-one is threatening the line or showing the skill that he had.

  2. I must admit, cooper is certainly more enjoyable to watch with his mate genia feeding him. Definitely one of the most mercurial players in world rugby right now. He’s like a kiwi Freddie burns that got his chance to play. The brumbies are playing wonderful rugby this season as well

    1. I also like Cooper playing like this, definitely brings some excitement to the Reds’ game. The Bulls are gonna have trouble this weekend. Jake White will be fuming over their loss to the Stormers and be on a mission to sink the Bulls. Should be an excellent game and I hope the Bulls stick to their game plan of kicking away possession, also hope Jesse Mogg is back.

  3. Ok i know landers wil will win.but i have to say i dont think chiefs is gona win blues by that mutch.maby they wil win by 2 thats IF they win. Because blues was impressive and still is.first 2 games was wow.then u cant really count the bulls game it was like a b tram of the blues then this weekend they played same rugby first half against wtahs and have obviously thought they have pocketed the game and intensity wasnt as high and wen wtahs came back into the game they was absolutely rampant and it was for me a evenly matched contest from there as it was their best performance of their season and arguably blues wors (only 2nd half) so i do know blues team know their agains contender for NZ conference and take it as a MUST WIN game to have a good chance of winning NZ conference.their defntly going to play their best rugby on Saturday and i do think after their 2losses witch was defenetly not because they werent good enough it was because of other factors as i mentioned will miss lead the chiefs and they might just take this game up a bit easier as expected.who ever wins it i bet it wont be more the 4

    1. It’s a tough one – the Chiefs-Blues game – Chiefs had their worst performance last weekend, but we’ll grant them the traveling factor, they’ll certainly step it up a notch. Blues disappointed me against the Waratahs, thought nothing of the Blues pre-season and was pleasantly surprised with their first two matches, then the coach lost his mind and they lacked guts against the Tahs second half. They’ll have to pick themselves up now, the new guys will need a good performance soon, they don’t have mental toughness yet. Agree that the Landers will win, and I’m probably gonna have to flip a coin to make my mind up about the Blues, although it’ll be hard to go against the Chiefs at home.

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