After seven rounds of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season, Planet Rugby takes a closer look at the players who are key to the exciting rugby on show and who leads the rest in the respective individual categories.
There was no change with Shaun Stevenson of the Chiefs, the Crusaders’ Leicester Fainga’anuku and Jordan Petaia of the Reds still leading the way with seven tries apiece.
Petaia was the only one of the trio in action during Round Seven but could not add to his tally as the Reds suffered a humiliating 52-24 home loss to the Brumbies.
Meanwhile, Fainga’anuku was a late withdrawal ahead of the Crusaders’ 38-21 triumph over Moana Pasifika in Christchurch while Stevenson and the Chiefs were on a bye.
Runners-up: There was plenty of movement here as Mark Telea of the Blues and Salesi Rayasi of the Hurricanes were rewarded with a brace of tries each in their teams’ respective wins over the Rebels and Highlanders. That means the duo join Josh Flook of the Reds on six scored.
That came courtesy of five conversions and a penalty and sees the 28-year-old playmaker jump several places into the number one spot in this section with 69 points amassed so far during the defending Super Rugby Pacific champions’ campaign.
🗣️ "I have already got confidence to pick my number one right now – and that’s Richie. I just think he’s earned that."
🇳🇿 Carlos Spencer names his choice for All Blacks fly-half position.https://t.co/9Zwbl6PUOg
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) April 10, 2023
Runners-up: Hot on Mo’unga’s heels is fellow All Black Jordie Barrett, who has a total of 66 points so far – after contributing nine in the Hurricanes’ win over the Highlanders – while the Dunedin-based franchise’s Sam Gilbert, who was last week’s leader, drops down to third position – one point adrift of Barrett.
McReight had plenty of tackling to do in that loss to the Brumbies and finished the encounter with a match-high 15 tackles made. That strong defensive shift pushes his overall tally to exactly 100 made during the tournament.
Runners-up: Christie is still in the hunt in this department as he has made 98 hits throughout season. The big reason for him being overtaken by McReight is that he started on the bench against Moana and only made two tackles after coming on during the latter stages of that game. Meanwhile, Brad Wilkin is in third spot on 95 hits made.
It was another impressive performance from the Reds number eight Harry Wilson, who made nine carries in a losing cause against the Brumbies in Brisbane.
That performance means he consolidates his position as the tournament’s leading ball carrier with a grand total of 102 made in the tournament up to now.
Runners-up: That effort from Wilson puts more daylight between him and the chasing pack. His closest competitor is Blues counterpart Hoskins Sotutu, who did not play in his team’s win over the Rebels, and he is still stuck on 84 carries while Jordie Barrett is next best on 74.
Most defenders beaten
Moana Pasifika flyer Timoci Tavatavanawai has dominated this category in recent weeks and he is still sitting pretty at the top with a total of 41 players beaten in the competition.
The 25-year-old continued with his fine form in his team’s defeat to the Crusaders as he managed to get past six players.
Runners-up: Tavatavanawai’s closest challenger is Telea, who has narrowed the gap at the top. The All Black beat eight Rebels and now has a total of 39 for the season so far while another Moana player, Levi Aumua, is third on 37.
Aumua is in again to put Pasifika in front 🔥
— Stan Sport Rugby (@StanSportRugby) April 7, 2023
Wallabies speedster Tom Wright continues to set the pace in this department after he caught the eye with another outstanding attacking display for the Brumbies in Round Seven.
The 25-year-old proved a real handful to the Reds defence and eventually completed 128 metres to take his tally for the season to 776.
Runners-up: With Sotutu not in action during this round, Wright extends his lead but it’s Telea who is now in second place on 745 while Wilson of the Reds occupies third position with 671 running metres.
Most lineouts won
This facet of play has been dominated by Brumbies second-rowers in recent weeks and just like Round Six it’s Nick Frost who is still occupying the top position after the latest round of matches.
Frost was the Brumbies’ go-to man in Brisbane as he finished with a team-high eight lineout takes to push his overall tally for the campaign up to 41.
Runners-up: Frost’s team-mate Cadeyrn Neville is not far behind in second place on 35 lineouts won while Josh Canham of the Rebels takes up third place on 34 takes.