Scrolling through the statistics from Opta, we pick out the standout players from Round 2 of Super Rugby 2017.
Top tackler – Sam Carter (Brumbies)
The Brumbies’ captain finished with a highly impressive 22 tackles against the Sharks, one better than his team-mate Josh Mann-Rea on 21, which nicely sums up the effort put in by Stephen Larkham’s group even though they eventually only earned a losing bonus point. That kind of work-rate in the tight five however can only be a good thing as the season progresses.
Top carrier – David Havili (Crusaders)
Moving Israel Dagg out of his full-back slot to the wing allowed Havili to return in the Crusaders’ back-three, and the young but experienced back brought a ton of energy, topping the carrying stats this week with 22 runs. Those carries kept the Crusaders in the game before snatching the late win in Dunedin.
Most metres – Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes)
One of the big reasons why the Hurricanes have burst out of the blocks to start this season hasn’t just been the work of high-profile names like the Savea brothers or Beaudan Barrett, but because the likes of Vince Aso and Laumape have started with a bang. The bulldozing centre made 168 metres against the Rebels, whose defence was left in tatters.
Most clean breaks – Chance Peni (Rebels) and Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ngani Laumape and Julian Savea and Ardie Savea (all Hurricanes)
Five players all tied on five clean breaks, and what is most telling is the fact that four of those players were involved in the Hurricanes’ 71-6 demolition of the Rebels in Wellington. When that happens the scoreboard is always going to be high. More on Peni later…
Top points scorer – Pat Lambie (Sharks) and Lionel Cronjé (Kings)
Two South African number tens in this bracket who were briefly also team-mates back in 2015, with both scoring 17 points last weekend. Lambie kicked five penalties and a conversion in the Sharks’ stunning comeback against the Brumbies, while Cronjé continued his bright start to the season for the Kings with three penalties and four conversions in their win over the Sunwolves.
Most defenders beaten – Chance Peni (Force)
Almost immediately from the kick-off last Thursday it looks as though Peni was going to cause the Reds plenty of problems, and he played a huge role in the Force ending a 663-day wait for a home win in Super Rugby. Overall the former Rugby League flyer went past nine defenders in Perth. SP Marais of the Stormers was close behind on eight.
Top lineout performer – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers)
Lions captain Warren Whiteley won the most lineouts on his own throw with eight, but the nod this week goes to the Stormers’ star Du Toit, who has been outstanding over the first two rounds. The Springbok claimed six lineouts on the Stormers’ throw but crucially made three steals against the Jaguares, taking him to a total of nine in a tight contest at Newlands.
Top try scorer – Eto Nabuli (Reds) and Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes)
Two hat-tricks in Round 2 see Nabuli and Milner-Skudder top this category. Nabuli looks a different player to 2016, more confident and still with plenty of speed as he showed a clinical edge against the Force to finish with a hat-trick. The Reds will be hoping there is more of that to come. Milner-Skudder’s return meanwhile was a hugely welcome sight, and he looked as deadly as ever against the Rebels.
Most turnovers – Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) and Nic Stirzaker (Rebels) and Lukanyo Am (Sharks) and Tolu Latu (Waratahs) and Nicolás Sánchez (Jaguares)
Another nod here for the younger Savea brother while Stirzaker, Sharks’ try-scoring hero Am, Waratahs hooker Latu and Jaguares fly-half Sánchez all finished their matches with three turnovers won. A special mention here for Latu, who was also phenomenal over the ball at the breakdown in Round 1 as well, putting him right into Wallabies contention.
Make sure to keep these players in mind when picking your XV ahead of the next round of our Super Rugby Fantasy game with SuperBru.