Super Rugby: Team of the Week

Date published: August 1 2016

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Now that the dust has settled after Super Rugby semi-finals, we have sat down and selected the players that stood out over the weekend.

It's going to be a Hurricanes-Lions final this weekend and several of their players make the cut after excelling last Saturday in Wellington and Johannesburg. 

Let's see who's made the side.

Super Rugby: Team of the Semi-finals

15 Ben Smith (Highlanders): The All Black delivered another superb performance, albeit in a losing cause, against the Lions in Johannesburg. Smith was his usual busy self on attack, gaining 111 metres from three clean breaks, with nine defenders beaten and an offload. Beats out the Lions' Andries Coetzee and Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs.

14 Waisake Naholo (Highlanders): Another Highlander who can hold his head high despite finishing on the losing side at Ellis Park. Naholo always looked dangerous with ball in hand was rewarded with a try for his efforts. Finished with 91 metres gained from 13 runs of which one was a clean break, with four defenders beaten and three offloads.

13 Lionel Mapoe (Lions): Another impressive showing from the Springbok who barnstorming runs proved a handful for the Highlanders defenders. Mapoe made eight runs, gaining 92 metres with three clean breaks, four defenders beaten and managed two offloads.

12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Lions): The youngster's stocks continue to rise and he must close to Springbok selection after another superb midfield effort. Showed great composure in crossing for a crucial try and gained 74 metres from two clean breaks with four defenders beaten. Malakai Fekitoa also did well.

11 Courtnall Skosan (Lions): Another fine effort from the flyer who showed a superb turn of speed in crossing for his 10th try of the season. Skosan's superb finishing is complimented by impressive attacking statistics as he won 91 metres from six runs with three clean breaks and as many defenders beaten.

10 Elton Jantjies (Lions)It was going to something special to take this slot away from Beauden Barrett after his performance in the win over the Chiefs, but Jantjies produced just that. It was the best all-round performance of his career, showcasing all of the qualities which make up a top fly-half. His clever kicks for tries by Jaco Kriel and Lourens Erasmus were genius in beating the rush defence. But it was his break ahead of Skosan's try, and double-figure tackle count, which really stood out. Special stuff.

9 TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)Had the All Blacks number nine been cited for kicking out at Sam Cane, and not instantly apologised, he wouldn't have made the side. In fact he should probably consider himself a lucky that the incident wasn't reviewed both during the game and after. Still, putting that moment of madness to one side, Perenara led his side with the same authority we saw in the quarter-final. The dummy run off the back of the scrum before Victor Vito's try was smart too.

8 Ruan Ackermann (Lions)Losing Warren Whiteley was justifiably viewed as a major loss but the younger Ackermann stepped in and more than held his own. Big runs with the ball in hand saw him consistently cross the gain-line six times in total against the Highlanders, whilst making a solid contribution on defence. He gets the nod ahead of Victor Vito, who was arguably lucky to not be yellow carded, and Luke Whitelock.

7 Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)Up against Sam Cane, he won the battle. Not only did Savea finished with an impressive 73 metres to his name from six carries, leaving six defenders in his wake in the process, while putting it an eye-watering 16 tackles on defence, the most by any player in the semi-finals by some margin. Do that again this weekend and he will have to start in the Rugby Championship.

6 Jaco Kriel (Lions)Couldn't be left out and so takes the 'blindside slot' in our pack despite being a South African number six. Kriel showed off that pace we all know he has in spades from his Sevens stint after collecting Elton Jantjies' cross-field kick, and he left everything out on the pitch at Ellis Park, with nine runs and nine tackles. But it was his leadership that stood out the most in the absence of Whiteley. Kriel stood tall. Credit to his back-row partner Warwick Tecklenburg.

5 Franco Mostert (Lions): Another abrasive performance from the 25-year-old second-row as his partnership with Andries Ferreira continues to shine. Mostert got on top of the Highlanders pack, making a team high 11 tackles while he also carried six times on Saturday.

4 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs): A mention for Hurricanes lock Vaea Fifita following another dynamic effort, with Michael Fatialofa also putting in a shift. But Retallick starred on a bad day for the Chiefs, making nine carries and 10 tackles to go with a lineout steal.

3 Julian Redelinghuys (Lions): What a performance from the Lions front-row. Redelinghuys is pushing hard to become the Boks' starting tighthead and with this kind of scrummaging form, he might just hold the edge over Vincent Koch. Dominated Daniel Lienert-Brown.

2 Ricky Riccitelli (Hurricanes): Many thought that losing Dane Coles to injury would give the Chiefs an upper hand up front. Riccitelli sure put those concerns to bed early with a brilliant performance around the field. So assured when sliding to collect the ball before passing to Beauden Barrett for that brilliant opening try and carried on that form throughout to see off Malcolm Marx for this spot.

1 Dylan Smith (Lions): We've already mentioned Redelinghuys and Marx, now it's the turn of Smith. Busy around the field and like his front row colleagues was dominant in the scrum. At just 22, Smith has a big future in the game. Right now though, he has a Super Rugby final to prepare for. He enters that full of confidence after he got the better of Josh Hohneck and is now surely eyeing up Ben May.

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