With the tenth round of Super Rugby’s matches now a thing of the past, it is time for us to work out which players shone over the past weekend.
Highlanders flanker Shannon Frizell is our standout performer after his try-scoring heroics in his side’s win over the Blues and the men from Dunedin are also the best represented team with four players in our side.
Super Rugby: Team of Round 10
15 Joaquin Tuculet (Jaguares): The los Pumas full-back was a constant thorn in the Brumbies defence in Canberra. Tuculet made a team-high 12 carries in which he gained 90 metres overall and beat four defenders with two clean breaks. Meanwhile, the Sharks’ Curwin Bosch continues to display his ability to break the line while George Bridge showcased his versatility, looking well at home in the number 15 jersey for the Crusaders.
14 Sbu Nkosi (Sharks): Had a quiet start in his side’s win over the Stormers in Durban but exploded into life later in the game, beating three defenders and making 78 metres. His sheer athleticism is a sight to behold and with Makazole Mapimpi on the other wing, this definitely looks the Sharks’ best combination. Elsewhere, Jack Maddocks impressed for the Rebels in a losing cause against the Bulls.
13 Rob Thompson (Highlanders): A local derby seemed to bring the best out of Thompson, who always plays the game with his heart on his sleeve. An all-action display once again from the hard-running midfielder included seven carries for 71 metres, with four clean breaks, three defenders beaten and one offload. The Sharks’ Lukhanyo Am and the Chiefs’ Anton Lienert-Brown were unlucky to miss out on our team.
12 Ryan Crotty (Crusaders): Appears to be nearing his best form ahead of a World Cup season. He beat five defenders from 11 carries with two clean breaks, while he marshalled the defence superbly as usual. His second try was a piece of individual brilliance, stepping back on the inside past multiple defenders and navigating the crowded space expertly. Beats out the Reds’ Samu Kerevi and Jaguares’ Jeronimo De La Fuente.
11 Manasa Mataele (Crusaders): Involved himself by coming off his wing regularly and was rewarded with a try for his industry as he took his tally to five for the season. Ran 11 times for 85 metres with ball in hand and made three clean breaks as he shrugged off defenders with impunity at times. Comes in ahead of the Blues’ Rieko Ioane and the Sharks’ Makazole Mapimpi.
10 Lima Sopoaga (Highlanders): Looks intent on finishing his Highlanders career with a bang after another fired-up performance from the classy operator. Kept the backline ticking with slick distribution allowing the strike-runners around him to flourish. Carried strongly, too, with 58 metres made from 10 carries. The Jaguares’ Nicolas Sanchez and Bulls’ Handre Pollard also impressed.
9 Gonzalo Bertranou (Jaguares): Brilliant performance from Bertranou as he provided the perfect foil for Nicolas Sanchez on his outside. Quick to the breakdown and efficient with his delivery, he was key to Mario Ledesma’s side maintaining a fast-paced style of rugby throughout that has unsettled their opponents in recent times. Edges out the Sharks’ Cameron Wright, who is staking his claim for a Springbok jersey.
8 Amanaki Mafi (Rebels): The Rebels may have lost to the Bulls in Pretoria but the Japan international was one player from the Melbourne-based outfit who could leave with his head held high. Mafi delivered a superb all-round performance and was particularly impressive on attack as he gained 122 metres from an incredible 22 runs, with four defenders beaten and also managed five offloads. Also shone on defence with 10 tackles and comes in ahead of Lions youngster Hacjivah Dayimani.
7 Kwagga Smith (Lions): The Blitzbok was in fine form in a one-sided victory for the men from Johannesburg against the Waratahs in Sydney. Smith caught the Waratahs defence by surprise as he showed his intelligence on his way over the try-line for a deserved five-pointer. Finished with 52 metres gained from 11 runs with two clean breaks and three defenders beaten. Also did well on defence with six tackles. Chiefs co-captain Sam Cane shone in his side’s win over the Reds in Brisbane.
6 Shannon Frizell (Highlanders): The Super Rugby rookie was brilliant in his side’s triumph over the Blues in Auckland which must surely have cemented his place in the Highlanders’ run-on side. The 24-year-old made a big impact with ball in hand and was rewarded with a hat-trick of tries. Eventually gained 36 metres from nine runs which included two clean breaks, one defender beaten as well as an offload. He beats out Lions stand-in skipper Franco Mostert.
5 Lood de Jager (Bulls): The lanky Springbok delivered another impressive shift in his side’s victory over the Rebels and makes our team for the second succesive week. De Jager’s work at the lineout was superb as he won seven balls at the set-piece but he also did his bit as a ball carrier, gaining 18 metres from six runs with two clean breaks and one defender beaten. Tyler Ardron of the Chiefs also played well.
4 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs): Showed why he is one of the first names on Chiefs coach Colin Cooper’s teamsheet with another polished display in their victory over the Reds. The All Black enforcer was particularly impressive on defence and eventually made 13 tackles but also crossed for a deserved try as his second-row partnership with Ardron is blossoming into one of the tournament’s best. The Bulls’ RG Snyman and Jackson Hemopo of the Highlanders were also good.
3 Thomas du Toit (Sharks): Another Sharks player who took a while to get going against the Stormers but when he did, he certainly made an impact. Initially battled in the scrums but got better as the game progressed and stood his man in the set-piece against Springbok Steven Kitshoff. Du Toit crossed for a try after great support play and did well on defence with eight hits. Crusaders hardman Owen Franks also impressed on his return to action after a lengthy injury lay-off.
2 Malcolm Marx (Lions): Delivered another excellent performance as his side claimed a superb win in Sydney. Showed why he won South Africa’s Player of the Year award last year with an excellent attacking display which provided headaches to the Waratahs’ defence. Marx made 62 metres on attack from seven carries with two clean breaks and he beat six defenders. Edges out the Bulls’ Adriaan Strauss.
1 Daniel Lienert-Brown (Highlanders): The 25-year-old delivered an impressive scrummaging performance as his side put the Blues to the sword at Eden Park. Lienert-Brown also did his bit on defence especially around the fringes of the rucks and mauls and eventually made eight hits. Pierre Schoeman of the Bulls and the Brumbies’ Scott Sio also impressed.