Each week we’ll be looking at the best of the best in Australian rugby and piecing together the top 15 players out of the Aussie Super Rugby sides from the round gone by.
For the second week in a row, the only win from an Australian side came in an all-Aussie affair as the Brumbies ground their way past the Waratahs in Sydney in a wet and scrappy affair.
The Rebels put in one hell of a fight against the Chiefs in Melbourne, leading by four coming into the final ten minutes before conceding two late tries in the dying stages to give up the points.
Over on the other side of the world, the Reds were embarrassed in Johannesburg by last year’s grand finalists, letting in seven tries to two against the Lions.
The Force had the bye this week as the Aussie sides continue to make this list a difficult task to put together with a string of poor performances. On that note, here’s the top 15 for Round 4.
1. Tom Robertson (Waratahs)
Now I know a lot of you will hate this list starting off with a Tahs player after some pretty negative feedback on anyone from the Waratahs making the team of the week in the early rounds.
There wasn’t a lot to work with in terms of the loosehead this week but Robertson was the best of an average bunch. A pair of tackle busts, strong mauling off the lineout when the Waratahs had the Brumbies backpedalling on their own line, and not to mention a try in the first half, has him ahead of the pack this week.
2. James Hanson (Rebels)
Hanson had a ripper game against the Chiefs this week and could even be the best Aussie player of the round.
Against a much more fancied pack, Hanson was a machine with the ball in hand and in the scrum, keeping the Chiefs big men at bay for nearly 70 minutes on the way to what looked like a massive win for the club. He was a habitual advantage line breaker and carried the front row through much of the contest.
3. Laurie Weeks (Rebels)
Ala’alatoa had a solid outing for the Brumbies, but a lack of consistency in a messy fixture against the Tahs hurt his chance this week.
Weeks worked wonders with the aforementioned Hanson, as well as loosehead Sa’aga, up against the Chiefs in the scrum in particular, but his running game caused bulk damage around the edges of the ruck as well, drawing the defence into the centre to create space out wide.
4. Dean Mumm (Waratahs)
Mumm makes his first appearance in the team of the week this season for a gritty, if not unspectacular, effort in wet conditions against the Brumbies.
While certainly not the internet’s favourite player, Mumm made lemonade out of what he was given in a tough second half for the home side as the Brumbies ran away with the game. That and he was better than some sluggish efforts from the rest of the Australian sides.
5. Sam Carter (Brumbies)
It was Carter’s defence that earns him his spot in the side this week, keeping the Waratahs contained under pressure on their own line in the first half.
Carters fringe defence and protection of the inside halves was an underrated factor of the Brumbies winning performance, keeping the damage minimal in the first 40 minutes when they were behind in the contest.
6. Hendrick Tui (Reds)
Jordy Reid had a strong outing for the Rebels, however, Tui was really one of very few standouts for the Reds in their dodgy effort against the Lions in South Africa, so he gets the nod.
The Japanese international was really the only one of a struggling forward pack to threaten the Lions in attack, breaking the advantage line regularly and dominating the lineout for the Queensland side in an otherwise forgettable match-up.
7. Colby Fainga’a (Rebels)
Brother of Wallabies Anthony and Saia, Colby gets his spot in the limelight this week with a strong outing against the Chiefs as a part of one of the Rebels better forward pack performances in the clubs short history.
Fainga’a was a presence in both offence and defence, breaking the line more on more than one occasion, making more metres than any other Rebels forward, bar one…
8. Amanaki Mafi (Rebels)
And that was Number 8 Amanaki Mafi who has made a big impact in his first season with the Rebels.
He racked up 83 metres from 14 carries, including two offloads and a pair of tackle busts, using his pure size and strength to muscle his way through the Chiefs defence, especially firing in the opening half when the match was in a real grinding contest.
9. Joe Powell (Brumbies)
Despite just one start from 11 games across two years prior to this season, Powell has slotted in without a hitch at the Brumbies No. 9 position, showing a lot of promise for a young player on the rise.
While less than perfect, the 22-year-olds guidance and ball movement around the paddock against the Waratahs was a key factor in their second half resurgence on Saturday night, not to mentioned a very handy kicking game off the back of the ruck, with one in particular setting up a peach of a try for Henry Speight.
10. Jackson Garden-Bachop (Rebels)
The young man impressed in his early showing with the Rebels, showing off his skills as a running flyhalf not afraid to take on the line.
His kicking game was stern but his ball movement and affliction to drawing in the defence and putting his body on the line proved to be a beneficial tactic against the Chiefs, even setting up Marika Koroibete to take the lead early in the second half.
11. Marika Koroibete (Rebels)
Speaking of, the former Melbourne Storm flyer scored his first try in Super Rugby over the weekend, crossing in the left-hand corner thanks to a cutout ball from Garden-Bachop.
Koroibete was dangerous down that left flank for much of the first half and while still far from perfect, he’s taking baby steps towards becoming the player he was hyped up to be when prematurely selected for the Wallabies squad last year.
12. Duncan Paia’aua (Reds)
Paia’aua was an offensive powerhouse for the Reds backline in a tough match-up for them this week, a bright spark among a litany of errors and a Quade Cooper red card that had the backs struggling.
Pairing up with Samu Kerevi in the centres, Paia’aua racked up the third most running metres of anyone from either side, snagging 83 metres from just 10 runs, including the finishing touches of a very nice opening try for the Reds late in the game thanks to the lead up work of Jake McIntyre and Karmichael Hunt.
13. Tom English (Rebels)
The 26-year-old was destructive when taking on the line against the Chiefs, often being the centrepiece of their set piece off the lineout. He made five tackle busts from 10 carries, including a few offloads just for good measure.
He was key in opening up the defence for his outside runners as well as prying on tired legs late in the game to keep the Melbourne side in the contest. His running metres were bested by only one man in the game, All Black Anton Lienert-Brown.
14. Henry Speight (Brumbies)
In his seventh season with the Brumbies now, Speight nearly single-handedly won the game for his side in the second half with two blistering tries to snag the lead late in the game.
The 28-year-old pulled out a magical solo effort from inside his own half, latching onto a deft box kick from Powell, before beating two defenders and kicking through again past the fullback to cross the line.
His second was another solo effort, this time using speed and strength to break through a line full of tired defenders to get in under the posts. He also made a ridiculous seven tackle busts from only eight runs.
15. Jack Debreczeni (Rebels)
Rounding out the Rebels dominance of this weeks side is fullback Jack Debreczeni.
Averaging nearly ten metres per run, his kicking and return game from the back was key in keeping the Chiefs under pressure for three-quarters of the game, as well as his power in drawing in key defenders on the set piece.
The New Zealand-born Debreczeni showed consistency, something other fullbacks from Round 4 struggled with.
Do you agree with the XV? You’re sporting fans, of course you don’t, so let us know who you think should or shouldn’t be in the side for this week.