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.
It was an interesting week for the Aussie sides, with plenty of fight and close games coming out of the round, a rarity this season.
The Brumbies went down 13-6 at home to the Lions in a very grinding affair, while the Reds and Rebels put on a tense thriller in Melbourne, with the Reds just sneaking home 29-24 thanks to a 79th-minute try.
The Force rounded out the week with a win over the Jaguares over in Argentina to end the round with two wins for Australian sides.
1. Toby Smith (Rebels)
Smith hasn’t been given much of a run for the Rebels this year but he got his chance against the Reds and threw his name into the hat for a permanent loosehead spot in the starting 15.
He put out an impressive showing in what was a tight game in the scrum, while taking charge with a strong running game through the guts.
2. Stephen Moore (Reds)
The old dog that still has some new tricks, Moore has been fighting criticism and age all season but has shown that he still has some juice in the legs.
He was the beneficiary of the rolling maul late in the first half to bag a try, but he really put in the hard yards defensively against the Rebels and in a tight scrum battle.
3. Allan Ala’alatoa (Brumbies)
Rounding out the front row this week is big 23-year-old Ala’alatoa. He didn’t have a blowout of a game, but consistency was on his side against the Lions in what was a very hard outing for the Brumbies.
4. Rob Simmons (Reds)
The Wallaby lock has had a fairly undulating season in 2017 and that continued this week against the Rebels but this time for the better.
His lineout work was strong and he was able to pick up good metres around the fringes of the ruck when the Reds began to shift down that left wing.
5. Sam Carter (Brumbies)
The 27-year-old was damaging with ball in hand against the Lions, breaking tackles around the edges as he targeted the smaller backs.
He still has a lot to do to lock down a Wallabies spot for the upcoming internationals, but these kinds of performances don’t hurt.
6. Ross Haylett-Petty (Force)
The big flanker put in a big performance against the Jaguares, piling on the pain when taking on the line, creating chances with the offload and breaking the advantage line in a game where forward momentum and the try line was hard to come by.
7. George Smith (Reds)
It was a toss up between Smith and the Rebels’ Will Miller, but I thought that Miller’s performance relies a lot on his try so it’s the veteran who finds himself in the team again this week.
Smith was his typical self at the breakdown, counter-rucking like there was no tomorrow and throwing himself around a long way above his weight and size. His ability to break initial contact in the tackle is so damaging in keeping the ball moving forward.
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8. Richard Hardwick (Force)
The 22-year-old, who was actually born in Namibia, had a stellar outing in the Force’s win over the Jaguares in Argentina.
He racked up the most running metres of anyone in the entire game, breaking more tackles than anyone in the entire game as he caused big headaches for the Argentine’s defence.
9. Ian Prior (Force)
Joe Powell was well in the running for the No.9 spot this week after a good showing for the Brumbies, but it’s the rarely talked about Ian Prior that takes pole position this week.
His break through the line in the second half to set up the Alex Newsome try gave them the lead late in the game and it only added to a big overall performance that saw him set up another line break and rack up the metres himself.
His running game late in the game was the catalyst for the Force’s two late game-winners, weaving his way around the tired big men.
10. Ben Volavola (Rebels)
He couldn’t quite play his side to victory against the Reds but the former Waratah and Crusader certainly did his best to get them there with a classy performance.
He was a damaging force at the line, either leaving it as late as possible to draw and pass, or throwing the dummy like he was selling a house and finding his way into the backfield.
While his kicking game still leaves a bit to be desired, his playmaking capabilities were certainly on show this week.
11. Alex Newsome (Force)
While Marika Koroibete had a decent game for the Rebels and Eto Nabuli for the Reds in the 11 jumper, it wasn’t quite up to Newsome who created headaches down the sideline for the defence throughout the night.
His try late in the game off the back of Prior gave his side the lead, but it was just reward for a strong performance on the sting, often finding galloping room and making good ground on the edges.
12. Bill Meakes (Force)
It’s a bit harsh leaving Kyle Godwin out of the inside centre spot but Meakes did enough to edge him out.
Meakes was a machine against the Jaguares, taking nearly twice as many runs as anyone else for the Force and by far the most in the whole game from both sides. He was all over the park and took on the Argentinians at every turn.
He created opportunities as a playmaker and broke the advantage line as a ball runner.
13. Samu Kerevi (Reds)
It’s hard to miss out on the team of the week when you score two and set up a third of your team’s five tries, including crashing over inside the final two minutes to break the 24-all deadlock and win the game.
No one even got close to the running metres Kerevi piled on to the poor Rebels fringe defence. He made a mountain of line breaks, tackle busts and offloads, putting in one of the attacking performances of the season.
14. Henry Speight (Brumbies)
A shining attacking light for the Canberra side in a game where offence was far from the order of the day for either side.
Thanks to Godwin and Kuridrani on his inside, Speight was able to use his size and speed to capitalise on good ball and notch up the ground coverage. He made a habit of breaking tackles, but he wasn’t quite able to find that five-pointer to get his side into it.
15. Reece Hodge (Rebels)
Despite letting in five tries to two, the Rebels still only finished just five points behind, and that was thanks to the boot of Reece Hodge whose goal-kicking kept the Melbourne side in it.
It wasn’t just that either, his return game in broken play shone through on a few occasions throughout the game as he looked to take on his opposite number, Karmichael Hunt.
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.