Now that the dust has settled after Round Four of Super Rugby, we select the players that stood out over the weekend.
The Hurricanes and Crusaders delivered the most impressive showings with big victories over the Force and Kings, in a round which delivered nine matches on Friday and Saturday.
Let’s see who made the cut.
Super Rugby Team of the Week, Round 4
15 Ben Smith (Highlanders): Went head-to-head with Israel Folau of the Waratahs and just edged out his Wallaby counterpart in a battle of, arguably, the world’s best full-backs. Smith was, as usual, dangerous on attack gaining 104 metres from 15 runs with one clean break and six defenders beaten. Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs also impressed.
14 Ruan Combrinck (Lions): One of the Lions’ unsung heroes, Combrinck was in brilliant form during his side’s triumph over the Cheetahs in Johnnesburg. Caught the eye on attack, winning 106 metres with two clean breaks, three defenders beaten and two offloads. Beats out the Jaguares’ Santiago Cordero and Blues debutant Rieko Ioane.
13 Samu Kerevi (Reds): Always looked dangerous with ball in hand in his team’s draw with the Blues and was rewarded with a try for his efforts. Kerevi gained 66 metres on attack from 11 runs with one clean break, three defenders beaten and one offload. Gets in ahead of Tevita Kuridrani of the Brumbis.
12 Charlie Ngatai (Chiefs): Helped his side to a narrow victory with an assured display in midfield against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Ngatai made only 40 metres on attack but his ability to create space for his outside backs is what gets him into this week’s side. Made two clean breaks, beat six defenders and made four offloads.
11 Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders):. Gave the Kings defenders a torrid time in Christchurch and crossed for a brace of tries. Nadolo proved difficult to stop and gained 70 metres on attack with three clean breaks, seven defenders beaten and three offloads. Chiefs speedster James Lowe also impressed.
10 Elton Jantjies (Lions): Was back to best against the Cheetahs after a below part effort in the previous round. Jantjies did well as a playmaker and finished with a 17-point haul thanks to a try, three conversions and two penalties. Edges out the Crusaders’ Richie Mo’unga and Kurt Coleman of the Stormers.
9 TJ Perenara (Hurricanes): Another fine effort from the All Blacks number nine, who was one of the standdout performers in his side’s triumph over the Force in Palmerston North. Crossed the whitewash for a try and gained 53 metres which included one offload. He beats out the Reds’ Nick Frisby.
8 Liam Squire (Highlanders): Was one of the Highlanders’ standout performers against the Waratahs and Sydney and scored one of their four tries. Squire was a constant threat on attack, winning 60 metres with two clean breaks and two defenders beaten and beats out Lions captain Warren Whiteley.
7 Ardie Savea (Hurricanes): Delivered another energetic showing as the Hurricanes took the Force apart with a clinical allround effort. Savea was a constant threat at the breakdowns but also got through plenty of work as a ball carrier, gaining 86 metres with four clean breaks, one defender beaten and an offload.
6 Elliot Dixon (Highlanders): Was back to his 2015 form in his side’s victory over the Waratahs and got a deserved brace for his efforts. Dixon gained 38 metres with ball in hand with two clean breaks, one defender beaten and one offload. Stormers stalwart Siya Kolisi is unlucky to miss out.
5 Luke Jones (Rebels): Another solid effort from the Rebel, who makes our team for the second successive week. Jones was a willing ball carrier against the Sunwolves, gaining 21 metres from eight runs with one defender beaten. Also stole a line-out on the opposition’s throw and beats out Blade Thomson of the Hurricanes and Pieter-Steph du Toit of the Stormers.
4 Eben Etzebeth (Stormers): The form lock of the competition makes our team for the third time this year after another fine showing in his side’s win over the Brumbies. Etzebeth displayed the speed of a wing in making a try-saving tackle on Scott Fardy and his physicality seemed to rattle the Brumbies at times. Also stole a crucial line-out and did his bit in defence with 11 hits.
3 Greg Holmes (Reds): Although the Reds have battled this year, the Wallabies front-row has played consistently well so far. Always seems to gain ground with ball in hand and was at the forefront of a strong scrummaging effort against the Blues in Brisbane.
2 Dane Coles (Hurricanes): Made his first appearance in this year’s competition in his side’s competition but hit the ground running in Palmerston North. The Hurricanes skipper was his usual busy self and made a try-scoring return, but also impressed with his leadership. Beats out the Lions’ Malcolm Marx and Andrew Ready of the Reds.
1 Toby Smith (Rebels): Smith did his core duties well in the win over the Rebels and put his body on the line at the coalface of the Rebels’ forward effort. Was solid in the scrums and comes in ahead of Scott Sio of the Brumbies.