Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we thought it only right to praise the stars of Super Rugby's Qualifying Finals.
Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we thought it only right to give praise to the stars of Super Rugby's Qualifying Finals.
So without further ado, herewith our selection.
Super Rugby: Team of Qualifying Finals
15 Jesse Mogg (Brumbies): A tough call as it was very hard to leave returning Highlander Ben Smith out, but the Brumbies full-back was hugely influential in his team's win, scoring a try and setting up another. He beat four defenders.
14 Henry Speight (Brumbies): Back-to-back appearances in our weekly XV as Speight was again outstanding in Brumbies colours, this time against the Chiefs, whose coach Dave Rennie was left ruing the one “that got away”. The former Waikato player caused the visitors to Canberra all kinds of bother, with his 151 running metres, 14 carries of which 12 saw defenders beaten, and general work was superb. Mention for Highlander Richard Buckman.
13 Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders): Conrad Smith has been the best 13 in world rugby for a long time but finally there is an heir to his black jersey. If anyone had doubts over Fekitoa's class, his brilliant try at Kings Park was further proof that the 22-year-old is a superstar in the making.
12 Phil Burleigh (Highlanders): It was tough to leave out the under-rated Bundee Aki, who finished his try well off a short ball in Canberra. However, there was a Highlander impressing at Kings Park as Burleigh stepped in for Shaun Treeby superbly well. His part in the Kane Hames try cannot be underplayed while he also hit the perfect support line off wing Patrick Osborne to put his team 25-27 up. Unlucky to be on the losing side.
11 Patrick Osborne (Highlanders): An incredible performance from Osborne in Durban, where he was a threat whenever the ball reached his hands. Set up his team's third try – for Burleigh – which levelled the scores before Lima Sopoaga's extras with a piece of counter-attacking magic.
10 Matt Toomua (Brumbies): Like his team-mate Speight, Toomua makes it two straight weeks in our team after impressing again on his home patch. Lima Sopoaga put in another strong performance for the Highlanders but Toomua's carrying threat and organising was once again superb.
9 Nic White (Brumbies): A try-scoring contribution from the ever-consistent White, who marshaled his pack excellently, especially in the opening half. He was a nuisance when he decided to run too, making four offloads.
8 Ben Mowen (Brumbies): It was another captain's performance from the soon-to-be Montpellier back-row as he was the Brumbies' top line-out option while he made eight tackles and carried well with ball in hand. Ryan Kankowski of the Sharks was also a stand-out number eight with a superb ten line-out takes making him the go-to man for Bismarck du Plessis. Both will be key men when the respective teams play in Sydney and Christchurch.
7 Marcell Coetzee (Sharks): A monster with ball in hand, the Springbok flank topped the stats for metres carried amongst the loose forwards across the play-offs. A try scored off the back of a driving maul and three defenders beaten made for an excellent shift from Coetzee. Jarrad Butler of the Brumbies made 20 tackles and scored a try in a strong showing.
6 Liam Messam (Chiefs): The All Black blindside was again a warrior for his side as he made nineteen tackles and led them well, unfortunately this time their run would end in Canberra . A huge mention for Sharks replacement Jean Deysel though, who came on in the 30th minute and went on to make fourteen huge carries that proved vital to his team's result. The only blot on his report card was losing the ball over the try-line at a key time.
5 Brodie Retallick (Chiefs): Another rock solid performance from Retallick as he proved to be a nuisance at the breakdown due to him being so difficult to shift. Twelve tackles were also amassed while he carried the most ball for the Chiefs. Sees off impressive Highlanders lock Jarrad Hoeata to our five jersey.
4 Sam Carter (Brumbies): He struggled early on with an ankle early he picked up for the Wallabies in June but recovered to put in another tireless shift for his team, making fifteen tackles. We said during the Test series that Carter could become a mainstay in gold and another couple of efforts like this one, against the Waratahs and in a possible final, will do his chances no harm at all. A mention for Highlanders lock Joe Wheeler.
3 Ben Alexander (Brumbies): It's been a good season for the Brumbies pack and Alexander was working harder than ever this weekend, making eight carries and standing up to Jamie Mackintosh. A mention too for Jannie du Plessis who came within inches of scoring his first Super Rugby try and along with his pack, enjoyed scrum dominance.
2 Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks): Hands down our starting hooker this week as Du Plessis was key cog in the Sharks scrum machine that devoured the Highlanders on Saturday. Throw in a 100 percent line-out success, a try and an assist and a respectful post-match speech and it was a perfect day.
1 Thomas du Toit (Sharks): An impressive 66-minute spell from the 19-year-old loosehead prop as he got the better of veteran Highlander Chris King. Tendai Mtawarira watched on from the sideline and could not help but be impressed by Du Toit's showing as he sees off the other three rivals for this jersey, with Kane Hames' open field work, Scott Sio's carrying and Jamie Mackintosh's tackle count impressive.