The Super XV: Australian team of the week, Round 8

Connor Bennett Roar Guru

By Connor Bennett, Connor Bennett is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    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.

    A much shorter week for the Aussie sides in Round 8, with just two games for fans to dig into among another week of tumultuous times in the world of rugby down under.

    After a tight opening 40, the Reds jumped out of the block in the second half of a high-scoring affair against the Kings.

    They very nearly let the South Africans right back into it in the dying stages, eventually holding on to a 47-34 win.

    The Rebels pulled out an upset over the Brumbies on Saturday thanks to a Reece Hodge penalty two minutes from time, getting his side over the line in a 19-17 thriller.

    Just three teams to pick from this week. There were some standouts, but there were some positions that just need filling, regardless, here’s the Round 8 team of the week.

    1. Scott Sio (Brumbies)
    Not a great way to start the list in what was far from a stand out week for the loose heads. Scott Sio gets things moving with the ‘best of a bad bunch’ performance.

    Sef Fa’agase had a fairly quiet game for the Reds, and Fereti Sa’aga actually scored minus points in fantasy footy this week thanks to a messy showing and a yellow card for the Rebels.

    Sio was a steady if not unspectacular hand for the Brumbies in a tough performance for his side. A couple of tackle busts and a solid effort at scrum time were enough to get him the opening spot in the side this week.

    2. James Hanson (Rebels)
    Despite struggling against a much more fancied Brumbies pack early on, Hanson and the Rebels tight five really ground their way back into the contest in the second half and began to take the fight to them.

    Hanson had a strong running game and portrayed a brick wall in defence to compliment his line out and scrum work.

    3. Laurie Weeks (Rebels)
    In the same vein of Hanson, Weeks piled on the pressure against a stumbling Brumbies pack as they desperately tried to hold on late in the game.

    It wasn’t anything spectacular, but as he has been throughout a tough season, Weeks was a workhorse through the guts and really showed the grit and aggression that got his side over the line.

    Nic Stirzaker Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby 2015

    4. Rob Simmons (Reds)
    As well as a barnstorming line break from the big fella, Simmons painted himself a threatening picture around the fringes of the ruck, able to sneak his nose through the line and land the offload on more than one occasion.

    Solid in the line out and managed to make fewer mistakes than most of his teammates in a scrappy opening half.

    5. Sam Carter (Brumbies)
    Tall man Sam Carter (2.01 metres if you were wondering) didn’t blow the world away against the Rebels but he was a steady hand among a quiet weekend for the few No. 5’s in Aussie Super Rugby.

    He was a machine in the line out, pulling in no fewer than nine throws and playing the running lock in damaging fashion off the set piece.

    6. Lopeti Timani (Rebels)
    Scott Fardy didn’t play terribly on the other side of the park, but it’s Timani who gets the nod this week for his penchant to take on the defensive wall close to the line and break the advantage line, especially when the Rebels were grinding inside the Brumbies 22 and racking up phases with the big men.

    7. George Smith (Reds)
    The veteran gift that keeps on giving. I would say George Smith turned back the clock, but at 36 years old, I don’t think the clock has ever been left behind as one of the most consistent players in world rugby.

    Especially in the first half, Smith was an absolute menace for the Kings, putting on a counter-rucking masterclass on his way to six turnovers for the game in the ruck alone, not to mention a stolen lineout.

    His defence was a highlight, but he also tore up the metres with ball in hand and bagged a five-pointer thanks to a very nice combination with Scott Higginbotham.

    8. Scott Higginbotham (Reds)
    Speaking of. The moustachioed No.8 isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he put in a domineering display on Saturday.

    He was able to really use his size and strength in a way that showed off a lot of the potential many believe has been lacking throughout his career. He ploughed through the centre of the field, piling on the run metres and keeping the Kings on the back foot defensively.

    9. Nic Stirzaker (Rebels)
    I might be a bit biased in my assessment of halfbacks. I’m a real fan of a running scrum half who is smart when picking to take on the line from the back of the ruck and Nic Stirzaker did just that this week.

    With the Wallaby No.9 spot well and truly up in the air at the moment, Stirzaker put his hand up with a cheeky display of running rugby, being outdone in the backline only by his winger Sefanaia Naivalu in terms of metres gained.

    10. Wharenui Hawera (Brumbies)
    The young kiwi was brought into the Brumbies at the start of the season under a bit of confusion, with the Australian public not really knowing who he was or where he’d popped up on Stephen Larkham’s radar.

    Being pushed straight into the starting side, Hawera has impressed so far as the Brumbies look to keep their noses out front in the Australian Conference.

    Much like Stirzaker, Hawera’s running game was a standout against the Rebels, selling a bevvy of dummies like he was selling his house and finding his way into the back field time and time again, hitting triple figures in running metres as well.

    11. Eto Nabuli (Reds)
    Now this one was a rough decision. Tom English and Marika Koroibete didn’t really do enough to make the side, and Nabuli made a host of handling errors in the first half, but it’s his brace of tries that sneak him ahead of a lacklustre pack at 11 this week.

    He racked up a few costly dropped balls in the first half that probably cost the Reds some five-pointers, but he bagged a pair of tries himself when they were starting to break away with the game and did enough to redeem himself in the second half.

    12. Duncan Paia’aua (Reds)
    Paia’aua was a part of a Reds backline that tore the Kings to shreds for the bulk of 80 minutes in Brisbane.

    He was arguably the most threatening of the outside backs without scoring a try himself, playing the role of creator as he broke the line on the left edge in particular and created space down the edges for his men out wide.

    Henry Speight tackled by Zack Holmes

    13. Samu Kerevi (Reds)
    Kerevi is in the same boat as Paia’aua as a damaging runner out wide, breaking the line and creating the offload that helped them to seven tries for the game.

    He made a few defensive mistakes, but he made up for it with ball in hand.

    14. Henry Speight (Brumbies)
    It was a busy weekend for the three men wearing the 14 jersey, with five tries coming between them, including two for Brumby Henry Speight who edges his way into the side on the right wing.

    He topped the metres made for both sides with a mammoth 158 down the right edge, bagging a pair to keep his side on par with the Rebels.

    His ability to break tackles and make the clean breaks as he continues to push for that Wallabies spot were a highlight in an otherwise disappointing result for the Brumbies.

    15. Karmichael Hunt (Reds)
    I’ve been a big fan of Karmichael Hunt this season and his rugby has taken huge strides of improvement, finally starting to look comfortable in the 15-man game.

    Hunt was most damaging in broken play, especially on the kick return, and just ran holes through the Kings defence who had nothing on him for most of the game, apart from one particular incident when he was run inside out three times to let a try in, but it was a little mark on an otherwise dominant performance from the back.

    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.

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • Roar Guru

      April 17th 2017 @ 12:27pm
      Timbo (L) said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

      K.Hunt being turned inside out made me laugh but to his credit, not many guys would have survived that. He was killing time waiting for one of his defenders to come and clean up the mess. The support didn’t come, the try did.

      It was an interesting twist to see Hodge at 15 and Debraczeni at 10. Add Stirzaker, English and Naivalu to the blends, it is no wonder the Rebels were able to sneak past the post. Their individual performances may not have made it to the top, but collectively, it was a great combo.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 6:58pm
        Steve J said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

        100% correct re: Hunt.

        Perception will look like he’s in caught in washing machine however by design he sums up both defenders by not committing and putting himself in three minds (step, kick and pass) rather slowing down the play while trying to use his peripheral senses (he actually does well) to mirror the attacking player until assistance come across, the inside cover didn’t react and Hunt got beaten.

        lesson – first line of defence needs to sight whats in front of them, slide, hold the line and make your first up tackles count and finally communicate to which they didn’t hence the Kings late surge.

      • Roar Guru

        April 18th 2017 @ 1:37pm
        ThugbyFan said | April 18th 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

        Spot on Aussie Timbo (L), if anyone needs to be bagged for that try its S.Kerevi for a terrible miss on his man. He got done badly by speed. That Kings player is awesome, as fast as a speeding bullet and more sidesteps than most Aussie polititians. Poor K.Hunt standing there looking at a 3 speed merchants on 1 defender situation did the best he could to slow it down.

        I am really warming to the Reds’ inside centre Duncan Paia’aua. He has put in a good game every match I have seen him, is a very good tackler and especially front on, runs really well and intelligently with the ball and when asked he has a pretty decent kick with plenty of metres in it. It wouldn’t surprise me to see M.Cheika invite this kid to a couple of WB training sessions, we have to keep those moneybags scouts from the NH off him. He, like every other IC in Australia, needs to develop some vision behind the rush defence line and just once in a while put up a chip kick into empty space with some mongrel chasers following the ball. Mind you in the Reds side, I guess everyone in the backline sings to Quade’s tune.

    • April 17th 2017 @ 1:10pm
      Jock Cornet said | April 17th 2017 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

      Reds reds reds they must be the form team . Head and shoulders above the rest. Can’t wait till the tahs beat them by 50

      • April 17th 2017 @ 4:59pm
        Crash Ball2 said | April 17th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

        I’m struggling to decide if you are more like death or taxes.

        • April 18th 2017 @ 2:31pm
          Bfc said | April 18th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          Gold mate…bloody gold!

      • April 17th 2017 @ 9:30pm
        Horrotah said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

        Well in 2011 the Reds won the championship playing the best attacking rugby ever seen in the comp’s history yet couldn’t manage to get more Reds players in the RWC squad than Tahs players.
        That paints a pretty accurate picture of the NSW-centric landscape which is sending the code down the toilet.
        Anyhow, I’m sure Reds fans are happy to be thrown a bone every now & then such as getting a few places in Connor’s team of the week.

        • April 18th 2017 @ 10:05am
          Paul said | April 18th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          ^^ Yep, no wonder kids don’t know who the Bernard ” one dimensional ” Foley is, but they all know who Quade Cooper is..Won`t change with that drongo who is Wallaby coach..He`ll still pick the same spuds Dean Mumm Nick Phipps Rob Horne Israel Folau Bernard Foley Kane Douglas Tom Robertson etc etc

    • April 17th 2017 @ 2:20pm
      cuw said | April 17th 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

      I thought this is the Australian team of the week – so how come a nz player is at 10?

      • April 17th 2017 @ 3:41pm
        Browny said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

        CUW, it’s the team of the week from the 5 Australian teams, not necessarily the Wallabies-eligible team of the week. Guys like Hendrik Tui and Amanaki Mafi have been selected previously too.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 8:14pm
          cuw said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:14pm | ! Report

          the heading says ” The Super XV: Australian team of the week, Round 8 ”

          maybe need to learn Australian English i guess. 🙂

    • April 17th 2017 @ 10:49pm
      paladeperre said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:49pm | ! Report

      I don´t agree with two of the chosen ones: Hawera play a horrible match, slow to get rid of the ball, whitout creating attack options and very bad whit the foot, and Timani can not be chosen because he only stayed in the game thanks to the incredible ineptitude of the referee

    • Roar Rookie

      April 18th 2017 @ 11:21am
      piru said | April 18th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      The interesting thing this week is that number 6 should have been sent for an early shower.

      Do the Rebels still win with 14?

      • April 18th 2017 @ 11:29am
        Browny said | April 18th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        I haven’t got around to watching the game yet as I was away over easter but the Rebels has 3 yellow cards, including 2 at the same time. If the Brumbies weren”t able to run away when it was 15 on 13 then maybe the Rebs would have still got up regardless. At the end of the day, the reports I’ve read suggest that teh rebels beat the Brumbies at their own game, kicked their points when they were available and smashed the Brumbies at the set piece. I’m going to try and find time to watch it tonight and see if that is actually the case. Also worth noting that is by far the best backline the Rebels have fielded all year (Stirzaker, Debreczeni, Koroibete, Inman, English, Naivalu, Hodge)

        • Roar Rookie

          April 18th 2017 @ 12:43pm
          piru said | April 18th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

          I thought the Brumbies were a bit casual throughout, including during the period it was 13 – 15
          – the Rebels seemed intent on niggling and playing silly buggers at every opportunity.

          I didn’t think the Rebels looked particularly better than they have all year

        • April 18th 2017 @ 1:38pm
          Markus said | April 18th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

          Rebels very strong at the breakdown against the Brumbies, who tended to show poor handling and ball security throughout the game. Hodge missed a few shots but that was largely due to having a go at anything within 50m of goal.

          Brumbies I thought were dominant in the scrum bar the last one of the game, but poor in the lineout. Not sure about the article commentary on Weeks as it was reserve TH Lomax that dominated the scrum for the match-winning penalty.

          • Roar Guru

            April 18th 2017 @ 2:16pm
            ThugbyFan said | April 18th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

            I saw that also Markus. That Tyrell Lomax is a monster (192cm and 127 kg) and destroyed the Brumbies pack in that scrum. Does anyone know if he is the son of John Lomax who played for many years in the NRL with Canberra?

            • April 18th 2017 @ 2:27pm
              Browny said | April 18th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

              Yep, he is.

              I’m hoping his mate Joordan Uelese can fix his lineout throwing over the next season and cement himself a spot on the bench behind Hanson. He’s a big unit too; 189cm and 122kg. Not sure if he’s playing Aus U20s or if the Rebels have pulled rank and taken him to South Africa.

      • April 18th 2017 @ 2:40pm
        cuw said | April 18th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

        i think that incident happened during the first 1/4 ; so it is highly probable that rebels would have run out of gas playing 60 minutes with 14. they did not outplay Brumbies , just lived off the penalties.

        that was a really rubbish decision by ref. people were sent off for more innocuos things, just becoz of directives BUT clear foul play which is the first criterion for a red did not get one!!!

        Brumbies were also rubbish – i mean how can 4 players fall off tackles allowing a try ??

    • Roar Guru

      April 18th 2017 @ 2:10pm
      ThugbyFan said | April 18th 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

      Nice team Conner, to be sure its a far better pack than the Team of the Week in a certain Sydney newspaper (hint: he should be culled). They had S.Sio, Alex Mafi (Reds), A.Alaalatoa, R.Arnold, R.Simmons, L.Timani, G.Smith, Amanki Mafi (Rebels). The halves were J.Powell at #9 and Q.Cooper at #10 linking I.Perese, D.Paia’aua, R.Hodge, H.Speight and K.Hunt. The most difficult thing about Teams of the Week is for one player his team is being smoked or he is shut down by a well-organised opposition whereas a player in another team has no pressure put on him because of inferior opposition, so he looks really good.

      Your piggies are way better but I will go with their backline. I didn’t see any #8 who really stood out so its Higgers for mine also. In the backs N.Stirzakker played well but so did J.Powell, and the Dzebra is playing like he has arthritis, he is so damned slow; whereas QC had far more room to show off his wares. I punted S.Kerevi on that bad miss that allowed a try although I love it when he has ball in hand. And yes I know, Paul Cully picked a #14 to play at #11; in his world there is no difference.

      • April 18th 2017 @ 6:50pm
        ThugbyFan said | April 18th 2017 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

        As an aside, I just saw the 2 video clips on the Roar Rugby site. One is titled “Nic Stirzaker’s absence at the breakdown” while the other is “Could Joe Powell be in line for Wallaby selection”. Sorta confirms what I alluded to in the above post. Stirzaker went ok but Powell played much better.

        It wouldn’t surprise if Nick Phipps is still selected as reserve halfback for the Wallabies as he has an enormous amount of energy and is a gun cover defender. His major downfalls are his passing at times is laborious and wayward and the tendency to panic when under the cosh in his 22. The passing he can fix with lots of skill coaching, the crazy moves under pressure are something else. I hope so as in many other aspects of his game, Phipps is easily the best in Australia.

        • Roar Guru

          April 18th 2017 @ 7:00pm
          Machooka said | April 18th 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

          Thanks for this post Thugby as I nearly forgot about Connor’s XV… I’ll blame the Easter thingy.

          But… but not one Tah!?!

          This is an outrage!

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