Scrolling through the statistics from Opta, we pick out the standout players from Round 8 of Super Rugby 2017.
Top tackler – Ed Quirk (Sunwolves)
The Sunwolves captain was back in the side after missing the win over the Bulls, and despite it being one-way traffic in Christchurch as his side copped a heavy defeat, Quirk led the way defensively with an impressive 19 tackles, the top count this week by some margin. It’s a shame his efforts were in vain.
Top carrier – Agustín Creevy (Jaguares)
A trio of players on 19 here in Clayton Blommetjies and Francois Venter of the Cheetahs, along with the Chiefs’ Damian McKenzie, but this week it’s the Argentina captain who takes this accolade after a huge mountain of work against the Bulls, with the industrious Creevy making 20 carries overall.
Most metres and most defenders beaten – Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)
No contest here, with Barrett becoming the first player to top a double hundred this year as the All Blacks’ star fly-half dragged his side from behind against the Blues into a winning position. Devastating with the boot with his tactical kicking or those chips over the defence, Barrett finished with a remarkable 204 metres made, and also comfortably went past the most defenders last weekend, leaving a total of nine clutching at thin air.
Most clean breaks – Manasa Mataele (Crusaders) and Karmichael Hunt (Reds)
A tie at the top for the most clean breaks last weekend, as Mataele and Hunt both finished with five apiece. Mataele finished with a hat-trick against the Sunwolves without really having to break a sweat, given his well-timed runs and finishing ability from close range. Hunt meanwhile had one of his best games for the Reds, getting two tries and two assists and causing the Kings’ defence plenty of issues.
Top points scorer – Handré Pollard (Bulls)
Somewhat of a return to form for the Bulls against the Jaguares with Pollard looking settled and precise at fly-half, and that was reflected too with his kicking performance off the tee as the Springbok finished with 16 points. Four penalties and two conversions saw Pollard finish with a 100 percent record.
Top try scorer – Manasa Mataele (Crusaders)
Only one hat-trick this week and it went to the Crusaders wing who has taken his chance from Scott Robertson with both hands. Seta Tamanivalu’s nephew left Kotaro Matsushima on his backside for the opening score and then was twice on the end of some sharp hands by Jack Goodhue to finish in the corner as part of a first-half treble.
Top lineout performer – Steven Cummins (Rebels)
Squeaking home this week ahead of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Lood de Jager – with the Springbok duo both finishing with eight takes – is young Rebels lock Cummins, one of many standout performers against Wallaby opponents in that derby win over the Brumbies. The 25-year-old second-row made eight catches and one steal as the Rebels finally got a win in 2017.
Most turnovers – George Smith (Reds)
Turns 37 in July but Smith has still got plenty left in the thank, as he showed on his 150th Super Rugby appearance in Brisbane by helping the Reds get over the line against the Kings. The former Wallaby stole the show and finished with a hugely impressive five turnovers to his name. He truly is one of a kind.
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.