Super Rugby: Team of the Week

01st Apr 2014, 14:17

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Runners: Woodward and Coetzee

Runners: Woodward and Coetzee

Now that the dust has settled in the Southern Hemisphere, we thought it only right to hand out praise to the stars of Round Seven.


Now that the dust has settled in the Southern Hemisphere, we thought it only right to hand out praise to the stars of Round Seven.

So without further ado, herewith our selection.

Super Rugby: Team of Round Seven

15 Jason Woodward (Rebels): Hardly the most illustrious name in Australian rugby, Woodward put in an outstanding show as the Rebels came back to beat the Brumbies on Friday. He set a new franchise record with his points haul of 27, kicked six from six goals, and powered his way through poor defence to bag a crucial second half try, finishing with 95 metres gained. Elsewhere, Ben Smith was typically elusive in attack, but his indifferent defending let him down.

14 Alaptai Leiua (Hurricanes): Wow. What a try. Leiua, who beat a total of seven defenders in Christchurch, galloped down his wing, jinking this way and that to land a phenomenal match-winning score against the once-mighty Crusaders. Three clean breaks and 94 metres made contributed to a fine individual display.

13 Andrew Horrell (Chiefs): Horrell wins his place in the team courtesy of some excellent vision and link-up play in attack, providing the assists for two of the Chiefs' five tries in their 34-34 draw in Pretoria. He was a thorn in the side of the Bulls' defence, with two clean breaks, two defenders beaten, four offloads and an impressive 70 metres gained.

12 Mitch Inman (Rebels): Another of the Rebels' unsung and little-known heroes, Inman is the uncompromising foil to Tamati Ellison's flair in Tony McGahan's midfield. He was solid in defence on Friday, making 16 tackles and missing his man just once, while scoring the clinching try and offering go-forward aplenty with ball in hand.

11 Julian Savea (Hurricanes): It's only right that both barnstorming 'Canes wingers make the lineup this week, with Savea running riot on the opposite flank to Leiua. The powerhouse scored one, set one up, made 83 metres and matched his colleague's tally of seven defenders left trailing. Mentions for Tom English, who would have had a strong case for inclusion but for a criminally butchered try, and the elusive Johnny McNicoll, who bagged a brace against Savea and co.

10 Fred Zeilinga (Sharks): No Pat Lambie? No problem. Anyone who'd watched Zeilinga in the Currie Cup knows that he has the talent and ability to be a top player, and so he proved against the Waratahs. In the Sharks' biggest test so far, losing at Loftus aside, Zeilinga smacked over five penalties and a couple of conversions to keep the scoreboard ticking over and the visitors at arm's length. Not bad for a 21-year-old. A mention for Colin Slade who ended up on the losing side but impressed statistically against the Hurricanes.

9 Bryn Hall (Blues): Whatever happens to Piri Weepu, and we all wish him a speedy recovery after the news about his heart, the Blues look to be well covered in his absence by Hall. Only 22, the Auckland boy made his debut last season but shot out of the blocks against the Highlanders. His kick for George Moala's try was fortuitous but there was no denying the class in his break that ended with Ma'a Nonu's score. Looks a top prospect.

8 Steven Luatua (Blues): Shifted to number eight following the return of Jerome Kaino on the blindside, Luatua's carrying was excellent - 11 runs for 36 metres with four defenders beaten - but it was also his lineout work that caught the eye. Six takes in the air made him the Blues' favourite and most secure target, another aspect to his all-round impressive game.

7 Marcell Coetzee (Sharks): The best performance from the young flanker for some time. Ten carries and one of his side's two tries were notable achievements anyway, but add in his 17 tackles and it's hard to leave Coetzee out. A nod to Michael Hooper and Jarrad Butler, who made 19 and 21 tackles respectively.

6 Liam Messam (Chiefs): Does Messam get all the praise he deserves? Possibly not, but then it's not easy playing in an All Blacks back-row alongside Richie McCaw and Kieran Read. Still when it comes to the Chiefs, Messam is the heart and soul of this successful team. At Loftus he made 48 metres off eight carries, beating four defenders - a reminder that he used to do well on the Sevens circuit. Top athlete.

5 Victor Matfield (Bulls): The veteran is improving with every match and based on his current form it won be a surprise if he makes a return to the Springbok line-up. Matfield was, as usual, one of the Bulls' main ball-winners in the line-outs with eight balls won but also did his bit on defence with eight tackles.

4 Stephan Lewies (Sharks): The rookie stepped up to the plate in a big way for the table-toppers in their win over Waratahs in Durban. He put in a solid shift during an 80-minute stint on the field, making 30 metres on attack but also impressed in defence with seven hits and was the Sharks' go-to man in the line-outs with eight takes. Hayden Triggs and Luke Jones also did well for the Blues and Rebels respectively.

3 Chris King (Highlanders): A highly under-rated player, King is one of those players who goes about his business without much fuss or fanfare. Was solid in the scrums against the Blues and also delivered a huge defensive effort with 14 tackles. Beats out Frans Malherbe who impressed for the Stormers against the Reds.

2 Stephen Moore (Brumbies): The Brumbies might have lost to the Rebels but Moore did little damage to his reputation after another solid effort at the coalface of the men from Canberra's forward effort. Moore found his jumpers with regularity, carried forcefully and was one of several Brumbies who did well on defence with 17 hits. James Hanson also shone in the Reds' victory over the Stormers.

1 Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira (Sharks): Beast was part of another impressive scrummaging display, alongside Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, but also impressed while doing the rest of his basics in a physical encounter against the Waratahs. Cleaned out the rucks like a man possessed but also caught the eye on defence with seven tackles made.