Super Rugby: XV of the play-offs

Date published: July 26 2012

Now that the dust has settled after the play-offs, Planet Rugby looks at the players who stole the show in the tournament's knock-out round.

Now that the dust has settled after the Super Rugby play-offs, Planet Rugby looks at the players who stole the show in the knock-out round.

15 Israel Dagg (Crusaders): Of the four full-backs in action, Dagg stood out the most but this wasn't his best match of the season in the red and black jersey. Did enough, but could have done a lot more with the amble ball supplied by the under-par Morne Steyn. Opposite number Zane Kirchner didn't do too shabby at the back for the Bulls either.

14 JP Pietersen (Sharks): The classy winger turned heads once again with a sublime outing out wide in front of a shellshocked 36,500-strong crowd. Pietersen found the chalkdust for the opening try of the match and threw his body on the line multiple times on defence. It's pretty hard to argue that the Bok flyer is currently the hottest wing of the competition.

13 Paul Jordaan (Sharks): Relentless on attack and defence. It was intitially thought the Sharks would suffer somewhat without the influential Frans Steyn in midfield, but Jordaan stepped up to the plate magnificently and hit a home run. Also bagged a super try for his efforts.

12 Ryan Crotty (Crusaders): Is starting to become a regular in our weekly XV, and based on this performance it's easy to see why. Crotty was an imposing presence in the Crusaders' midfield with ball in hand and refused to yield as he carved the Bulls to shreds.

11 Digby Ioane (Reds): The shining light in an otherwise rudderless Reds back-line. Ioane threatened every time he touched the ball and would've got it more had it not been for some brutal defence from the Sharks.

10 Dan Carter (Crusaders): Once again left his mark on a match after contributing 23 points from the boot in what was a near-flawless kicking performance, whilst the world's best pivot also orchestrated matters superbly on attack.

9 Charl McLeod (Sharks): Saved his best display in a Sharks jersey for when it counted most. Mcleod's job was probably made easier when opposite number Will Genia was shifted to fly-half, but take nothing away from a polished performance that included a match-clinching intercept try.

8 Richie McCaw (Crusaders): In his 11th season of Super Rugby, the Crusaders skipper was monumental – even by his incredible standards. Indeed, Crusaders' supporters are certainly resting easier at night following McCaw's impact in the less familiar position where his ball carrying was particularly strong.

7 Marcell Coetzee (Sharks): The Springbok flank blunted the Reds' attacking intent after making a whopping 16 tackles. Even more impressive for the Sharks' brick wall, was the number of tackles missed: zero.

6 Keegan Daniel (Sharks): Once again, Daniel was his inspirational self as he led his team to a historic win in Brisbane. Daniel was also a Trojan on defence after putting in 22 hits, and was responsible for setting up Jordaan's try in the first half.

5 Luke Romano (Crusaders): Played in the number four jersey for the Crusaders, but switches to five in our XV. The former cricketer continues to bowl us over with his energy rate around the pitch after making 12 tackles, whilst he was once again a tower of strength at line-out time.

4 Willem Alberts (Sharks): John Plumtree's decision to play his Bok flank at lock was vindicated thanks to Alberts' powerful performance at the collisions and breakdowns. He constantly put the Reds' forwards under pressure at the rucks and forced several turnovers, while he also gained most metres with ball in hand than any other lock over the weeekend.

3 Owen Franks (Crusaders): Franks owned the scrum as he huffed and puffed and blew the Bulls pack down. Surpringsly though, he's been rotated with brother Ben for Friday's semi-final against the Chiefs…

2 Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks): Dominant in every facet of play for the Sharks – Du Plessis bullied his hosts into submission and also coupled brains with braun after showing good hands to set up Pietersen's try.

1 Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks): We didn't hear the familiar screams of 'Beeeeeeeeeeast' every time Mtawarira got his hands on the ball – which was a lot – partly due to the home crowd's stunned silence. But we're sure his fans were letting rip back home at the site of the Bok prop in full flight. Interestingly, Mtawarira made more than double of metres gained by any other front-rower over the weekend (Bismarck du Plessis was next best).

Compiled by Dave Morris