Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week: ‘Brilliant’ record breaker and ‘inspired’ former England star shine in Round Nine

Dylan Coetzee
Split with Ben Donaldson, Brad Shields and Sevu Reece.

Split with Ben Donaldson, Brad Shields and Sevu Reece.

It was a weekend of big wins in Super Rugby Pacific with plenty of points scored in spectacular fashion as Round Nine turned the heat up.

We selected our team of the week loaded with players from the winning teams that included memorable victories for the Reds, Blues, Hurricanes and Western Force.

Electric backs

15 Jock Campbell (Reds): A key element in the Reds’ flowing attack against the Highlanders in what was a memorable win. The full-back was always looking to do something when he had ball in hand making 70 metres and beating three defenders whilst expertly controlling the backfield.

14 Sevu Reece (Crusaders): It was tempting to put the slippery Blues star Mark Tele’a in the lineup but the new Crusaders leading all-time try scorer takes the spot. Reece was brilliant for the Christchurch men scoring and assisting a try. The Crusaders will need him to completely catch fire if they are to climb out of a sinking hole.

Sevu Reece leads OUTRAGEOUS list of all-time Crusaders try scorers

13 Iosefo Masi (Fijian Drua): Inspired in a losing cause, the centre kept up his streak of gaining loads of metres with ball in hand (99) and beating seven defenders in the process. Masi was influential in the Drua’s attack and assisted one of their tries underlining his place as one of the most consistent players in Super Rugby Pacific.

12 Hunter Paisami (Reds): A top-quality game from the Wallaby superstar who was potent in the midfield. The centre managed a try and two try assists as he almost single-handedly took the game away from the Highlanders. It was the kind of performance that shows how valuable he is for the Reds going forward and he gets in ahead of a 20-tackle effort from Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes).

11 Caleb Clarke (Blues): A busy shift from the powerhouse Blue who was not afraid to wander from his wing to find work as he notched 12 carries on the day. His try was well deserved as he barged through the front door to add five more for his side. Scott Robertson will be quietly smiling after Clarke’s outing.

10 Ben Donaldson (Western Force): The fly-half is quickly becoming the Perth side’s most important player as he comprehensively pulled the string again, inspiring the Force to their first win over the Crusaders since 2013. Not only did he score 17 points he also made sound decisions steering his team around the park cleverly as well as keeping hold of the game and out of the desperate Crusaders’ hands.

9 TJ Perenara (Hurricanes): The legendary scrum-half continued his fine form with another lovely outing. Perenara was the heartbeat of the Hurricanes’ attack and was on hand to bag two try assists as the Wellington men stay atop the pile. The All Blacks’ efforts were enough to edge out rising Blues star Taufa Funaki.

Grafting pack

8 Hoskins Sotutu (Blues): The number eight is having a glittering campaign and leads the competition’s try-scoring charts thanks to a commanding brace against the Brumbies. Sotutu is dynamic, entertaining and an utter game-breaker at the moment. He also bagged a try assist in a performance that will surely have him well in the conversation for a starting All Blacks spot. Hurricane Devan Flanders and Force star Reed Prinsep were also brilliant for their teams.

7 Carlo Tizzano (Western Force): The flank dug deep against the Crusaders and got through a shipload of work that was ultimately rewarded with a try late on in the clash. However, it was actually on defence where he earned his money making a ridiculous 25 tackles! He gets in ahead of Dalton Papali’i (Blues) and Du’Plessis Kirifi (Hurricanes).

6 Brad Shields (Hurricanes): The former England international has been loving his return to Super Rugby and was at it again. The captain’s armband has clearly inspired the flank who made an outrageous 19 tackles on the day with three turnovers to match. Shields is central to the Hurricanes’ cause at the moment.

5 Ryan Smith (Reds): Another Queenslander in the mix after a blockbuster outing in the second-row. Smith put his hand up all game long to carry which resulted in a try while on defence he made 15 tackles and won a turnover. The Red was also sound in the set-piece taking all his line-outs and stealing another.

4 Ben Grant (Hurricanes): A classic tight five outing for the second-row who made a whopping 16 tackles whilst commanding the line-out taking all his throws and stealing one from the Drua. His complete performance gets in ahead of powerhouse Blues veteran Patrick Tuipulotu.

3 Santiago Medrano (Western Force): Most important wins are ‘propped’ up by the big men up front and that was the case when the Argentine ran in 14 tackles around a solid set-piece effort against the Crusaders.

2 Ricky Riccitelli (Blues): The prolific hooker was on the scoresheet yet again in another high-standard outing as he formed part of a pack that demolished the Brumbies. The Aucklander also got a try assist while nailing the set-piece.

1 Tevita Mafileo (Hurricanes): Another outstanding defensive effort from the ‘Canes loosehead who managed 14 tackles while never taking a foot back in the scrums. Mafileo looks to have entered a rich vein of form.

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