Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we thought it only right to offer praise to the stars of Super Rugby, Round 18.
Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we thought it only right to hand out praise to the stars of Super Rugby, Round 18.
So without further ado, herewith our selection.
Super Rugby: Team of Round 18
15 Israel Folau (Waratahs): We'd stop picking him if he didn't keep turning up each week. Another try, number 12 for the year, keeps Folau in the full-back slot. Five defenders beaten and five offloads made from 11 runs. Mentions for the Sharks SP Marias, who nearly grabbed the matchwinner and made 139 metres, along with Tom Marshall of the Chiefs.
14 Frank Halai (Blues): Not many outstanding candidates this week on the right wing, but we've gone for the Blues speedster mainly for his length-of-the-field intercept try that levelled the scores in Christchurch. Mentions too for Alofa Alofa of the 'Tahs and the Force's Dane Haylett-Petty.
13 Samu Kerevi (Reds): Who's that kid playing at 13 for the Reds? Many may have wondered that as Kerevi produced a stunning performance against the Force. He scored a try and fell just short of 100 metres, with six clean breaks and beating eight defenders on the way, not to mention making ten tackles and missing none. Remember the name.
12 Chris Tuatara-Morrison (Force): A powerful performance from the home side's inside centre in Perth. He beat four defenders and produced a handful of good offloads. A strong return – out of position – from Dan Carter deserves a mention while Kurtley Beale had another strong game on attack but missed a few tackles.
11 Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders): Another barnstorming performance from the Crusaders wing, who scored two crucial tries, beating five defenders along the way. The big Fijian is turning out to be one of the stars of the season. A mention too for Tom English, who added some hilarity with his try-scoring dive for the five-metre line, along with Nick Cummins.
10 Bernard Foley (Waratahs): Lots of competition in the fly-half slot this week. Mentions for two young stars in Kurt Coleman and Marnitz Boshoff are well deserved, while Aaron Cruden just misses out despite a blinding 12 tackles and seven defenders beaten plus an assist. But we can't leave out Foley, who racked up 134 metres while beating five defenders with an assist himself as the 'Tahs thrashed the Highlanders. He also had the ball on a string off the kicking tee. Phenomenal this year.
9 Cobus Reinach (Sharks): Was one of the shining lights in a losing performance against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. Reinach was brilliant on attack, winning 79 metres with nine defenders beaten and was rewarded with a superb try for his efforts. Also provided a crisp service at the base of the scrum.
8 Kieran Read (Crusaders): When Read is at his best, he seems to do everything with ease. During his time on the park against the Blues he made more metres than any other forward (41), made ten tackles and won five line-outs. Effortless. Mentions to a host of candidates including inspirational number eights Ben McCalman and Warren Whiteley, along with Liam Squire of the Chiefs.
7 Nizaam Carr (Stormers): Has cemented his position in the Stormers' back row and won the official man-of-the-match award in his side's triumph over the Bulls. Gave the final pass for Jaco Taute's try and impressed with 40 metres gained with ball in hand. Also linked well with his backs and did his bit on defence with eight tackles. Lions tearaway Warwick Tecklenburg also impressed in his side's win over the Rebels.
6 Teboho Mohoje (Cheetahs): Was one of the Cheetahs' unsung heroes in their shock victory over the Sharks. Mohoje didn't do much with ball in hand but delivered a busy shift in the tight exchanges. Cleaned out the rucks with great intent and stood out on defence with an impressive 15 tackles, also winning five line-outs and stealing one. He edges out Curtis Browning who was superb on defence with 21 hits for the Reds against the Western Force.
5 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs): The All Blacks stalwart delivered one of his best performances of the season in the Chiefs' victory over the Hurricanes in Hamilton. In a superb all-round display Retallick was his usual busy self in the tight exchanges for the defending champions. Managed to get his name onto the scoresheet with a deserved try, impressed in the line-outs with six takes and put his body on the line with 11 tackles on defence.
4 Lood de Jager (Cheetahs): Like his team-mate Mohoje, De Jager impressed at the coalface of the Cheetahs' forward effort against a physical Sharks pack. De Jager continued where he left off for the Springboks last weekend and scored a deserved try but also impressed on defence with 11 tackles and at the line-outs where he won five balls with a steal. Comes in ahead of Waratahs enforcer Jacques Potgieter.
3 Sekope Kepu (Waratahs): An easy choice at tighthead as the Wallaby prop scored a try and set up another. He made a few decent carries too. Playing his best rugby.
2 Nathan Charles (Force): Scorer of an outstanding try to kill off the Reds in Perth, the new Wallaby has been at the heart of Force's strong campaign that now leaves them one win away from the play-offs for the first time. A solid line-out kept the Force's pack on top. A mention has to go to Lions replacement hooker Armand van der Merwe, who nearly scored an amazing 60-metre interception try but was stopped just short. Great effort.
1 Jamie Mackintosh (Chiefs): The big loosehead hasn't seen much starting time for the champions in 2014, but played well on Friday and even scored a try in the process. Part of a strong set-piece that lost no scrums or line-outs. A mention for Pek Cowan, who is playing some of his best rugby for the Force.