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Highlanders

Super Rugby: Team of the Week

18th March 2013 11:46

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ben alexander sharks v brumbies

Top of the props: Ben Alexander

Now that the dust has settled over in the southern hemisphere, Planet Rugby thought it was only right to hand out some praise to the stars of Super Rugby, Round Five.

Without further ado, here comes our offering - be sure to send in your own 15-1 team selections.

15 Tom Marshall (Crusaders): We know, we know... he played on the wing against the Bulls, but you'll find the other wingers on this list were also extremely hard leaving out. So because Marshall is no stranger to the full-back position, we've decided to shift him to 15 this week after his stellar performance in Christchurch. Not only did Marshall score a spectacular try, he broke the Bulls' line of defence at will, beat several would-be tacklers on multiple occasions and gained a whopping 150m in total for his team.

14 Lelia Masaga (Chiefs): The Kings pride themselves on their defence, but the Chiefs speedster proved to be a real handful in Port Elizabeth as he exposed a few cracks and was worthy of his hat-trick against the tournament newbies.

13 Conrad Smith (Hurricanes): Had his best game of the tournament thus far. Started with a bang thanks to an early touchdown for his team, and from there on in was a running threat in attack and powerful in defence. Led by example and proved just why he's rated one of the best in the business.

12 Robert Ebersohn (Cheetahs): Scored a quality try before the smoke had even cleared from the prematch fireworks, which paved the way towards another memorable win on the road for his team. The Cheetahs centre led the way in metres gained, and wasn't shy on defence either - making a whopping 16 tackles.

11 Hosea Gear (Highlanders): Arguably the best player on the Forsyth Barr Stadium paddock. Gear was a threat throughout the 80 minutes, and the Hurricanes could not take their eyes off him as he challenged them constantly. Deserved his try that was actually a more difficult than it looked. A shame it was all in vain...

10 Dan Carter (Crusaders): He's baaaaaaack! It just goes to show that when the All Blacks pivot is firing, so too are the Crusaders. Carter, who contributed 11 points from the tee, was all class in getting his backline moving - rocking the Bulls from the outset.

9 Alby Mathewson (Western Force): Inspired the Force to their first win of the Super Rugby season after upsetting the more fancied Reds. While most interest centred on the return from injury of Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia, it was his opposite number who was the star. The former All Black set up the only try and almost engineered another.

8 Fotu Auelua (Brumbies): Displayed a shattering work-rate as the Brumbies number eight simply bullied defenders out of the way. Played a big role in setting up two of the tournament leaders' early first-half tries against the Sharks, and was a machine on defence throughout.

7 George Smith (Brumbies): David Pocock's pain could be Smith's gain as the veteran loose forward showed he still has what it takes - and more - to be a real force in Super Rugby. A few more performances like this and the Australian Rugby Union will be forced to extend his contract for the British and Irish Lions tour Down Under.

6 Pieter Labuschagne (Cheetahs): Who needs Heinrich Brussouw when you've got this guy pulling all the right strings at the breakdown for the Cheetahs. Labuschagne is making a name for himself early on in the competition, and has arguably been the most consistent player for the Cheetahs.

5 Hugh McMeniman (Western Force): Whilst Mathewson was applauded for his role in helping the Force to their first win in Brisbane, McMeniman hardly put a foot wrong and was at the heart of a supreme forward effort. The 29-year-old veteran of 21 Tests would've enjoyed getting the better of his former Reds team.

4 Sam Whitelock (Crusaders): Turned up in all the right places, the Crusaders tall timber worked tirelesly in the tight exchanges and carried well in the loose. Hit the Bulls hard in defence and won the aerial battle at line-out time.

3 Ben Alexander (Brumbies): A world-class display of power and technique from the Wallaby front-rower as he destroyed Springbok loosehead Tendai Mtawarira in the scrums.

2 Hika Elliot (Chiefs): Toughest selection of the weekend, but in the end we with went with the Chiefs rake, who was responsible for a number of bone-crunching tackles and strong runs with ball in hand.

1 Ben Franks (Hurricanes): Another solid contribution from the former Crusaders prop, who seems to have settled down quickly in his new team. Franks was once again rock-solid at scrum-time, but it was his powerful try out wide when he steam-rolled over the top of Highlanders full-back Ben Smith that drew our attention.

Compiled by Dave Morris

  • Highlanders Fixtures
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New Zealand Conference
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Crusaders1651
2Chiefs1644
3Highlanders1642
4Hurricanes1641
5Blues1637