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The Super XV: Australian team of the week, Round 12

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.

    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.

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (91)

    • May 15th 2017 @ 8:04am
      Bfrrank said | May 15th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Powell should be #9

      • May 16th 2017 @ 6:10pm
        Clelo said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

        I agree he is good and I have been impressed with him this year, however, the Wallabies are not like the All Blacks where you can introduce players in a lower intensity match without a lot of detriment to the side and so many of them cover each other. I believe heika will go with an encumbent (Genia or Phipps) because they have already experienced the intensity of the test arena. Phipps just has to stop his box kicks as I think the crowd have as muich knowledge where they will land as he does!! Also consider the opposition, is Powell ready for Smith and/or Perenara at test level. Throw in De Klerk, if fit, and he is likely to be found wanting. His time will come on an end of year tour where you blood players. Look at the AB’s taking Ardie Savea to UK a few years ago and MacKenzie for that matter and then look at them now.

    • May 15th 2017 @ 8:24am
      Bfc said | May 15th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      Since Cheika has appointed a specialist Skills Coach in Mick Byrne (usually…by the time players are in Senior footy of any code it is too late to work on functional skills…that should be taught before they reach U14s…), he can play a vital role in the next Wallas campaign. Reece Hodge has a massive ‘place kicking range’ advantage over every other Wallas contender by some margin. Byrne should be tasked with getting Hodge to a point where his kicking is more (I suspect he is actually no worse than Cooper or Foley in terms of accuracy anyway..?) repetitive.
      Opponents would be reluctant to concede “professional” penalties if Hodge could consistently pot goals from 50m out and this could help the Wallas maintain momentum (if they got any…!).

      • May 15th 2017 @ 1:09pm
        jameswm said | May 15th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        Mick Byrne will be working on more than that.

        As I understand it there are only about 3-4 Wallabies the ABs fear are up to real international standard. Hooper is top of the tree. He has massive respect across the ditch, despite copping heaps in hiw own country.

        Not sure who the others are but I suspect Genia is one of them.

        • May 18th 2017 @ 1:37pm
          Xiedazhou said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

          Your statement, if at all based on fact, not conjecture, would mean the much vaunted AIGs humility is as much BS as some of the other stuff attributed to that team. But I expect that the AllBlacks probably do feel and show more respect to their International opponents than their horribly parochial and one-eyed supporters. So they think only 3-4 Wallabies are up to real international standard do they? What depths some of you guys plumb….

    • May 15th 2017 @ 8:26am
      Waxhead said | May 15th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      Whatever – reality is Speight and Kerevi are the only players who would even make the 40 man squad of any NZ province.

      And Mr Bennet says it was a bit harsh leaving out Godwin – hahahahahaha.
      Godwin was appalling against Lions.
      He was error ridden and continues to offer zero in attack.
      He’s a big part of the reason Brumbies can’t score tries and have no penetration in 2017.
      He’s contributed to the Brumbies exactly what he did at Force for 5 yrs

      • May 15th 2017 @ 1:10pm
        jameswm said | May 15th 2017 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

        Godwin is a massive disappointment for mine.

      • May 15th 2017 @ 4:51pm
        Train Without A Station said | May 15th 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

        Absolute rubbish.

        Players like Mike Ala’alatoa and Peter Samu who are unwanted have gone over and made NZ Super Rugby squads very quickly.

        FFS Volavola was in an NZ Super Rugby squad last season!

    • Roar Pro

      May 15th 2017 @ 8:30am
      robel said | May 15th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      Coleman and Arnold from the Force in the 2nd row for me. Even the whole Force tight 5 to out scrum the Jaguars.

      • May 15th 2017 @ 9:22am
        Neil said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        Agree, Robert, Coleman was massive. Simmons, apart from being proficient in the line out (didn’t seem that he had any competition there so he had to look good), was his usual woosey self in carries and tackles.

        • May 15th 2017 @ 9:45am
          ScottD said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Yes as was Arnold in his first game back from a long injury break
          Not impossible that he might partner his brother in the Wallaby 2nd row at some point

        • May 15th 2017 @ 9:45am
          ScottD said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Yes as was Arnold in his first game back from a long injury break
          Not impossible that he might partner his brother in the Wallaby 2nd row at some point

      • May 15th 2017 @ 9:41am
        Harry said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Very strongly agree Coleman and Arnold need to be there. Part of a pack that ended up handing the Argies a beating on their home soil, that takes some doing.
        Volavola should not be playing super rugby. Quade, Lance’s half game, both better.

        • May 15th 2017 @ 11:55am
          Gepetto said | May 15th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

          You may well get 40 minutes football out of the two of them combined. Simmo will be happy to wait on the bench until either Coleman or Arnold are stretchered off.

        • May 15th 2017 @ 1:11pm
          jameswm said | May 15th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

          Arnold and Coleman are the only two international standard locks we have, and they still have a fair way to go.

    • May 15th 2017 @ 9:18am
      Demak said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      The whole Force pack got me this week not a single passenger outstanding performance

    • May 15th 2017 @ 9:28am
      Sportscrazy said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Too often Rob Simmons cops a hiding from the experts (supposed). I have always rated him. His faults lie around running too high with the ball and trying too hard to be an enforcer.It seems these have both been managed as of recent games.

      I thought Higgers should have made it. He was very good (bar the drop over the line).

      Smith deserves his place but gave away too many penalties. How many of these were converted into points.

      • May 15th 2017 @ 9:42am
        Fin said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Smith had one of those days when he got on the wrong side of the ref which happens to 7s. But to be fair to the Ref he probably thought there was more than one of him, he seemed to be everywhere.

        • Roar Guru

          May 15th 2017 @ 9:47am
          Train Without A Station said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

          There was some blatant offences by Smith though.

          I couldn’t believe him looking at the ref incredulously after daring to penalize him for taking out the halfback at a ruck.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 15th 2017 @ 10:33am
            Dave_S said | May 15th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

            TWAS I read that look on George’s face as “embarrassed”, he got it wrong a few times. Otherwise has a typically good game.

            One of Simmons’ best in ages. Perhaps rising to the young guns’ challenges for his red jumper?

            • May 15th 2017 @ 12:11pm
              Neil said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

              He looked good only because Steve Cummins and Dominic Day were poor. They do not have the experience (yet) and Lukhan Tui brings grunt to the defence that Simmon cannot.

              • Roar Guru

                May 15th 2017 @ 12:21pm
                Train Without A Station said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

                Except a lock doesn’t solely match up on other locks and Simmons has been performing very much the same against all teams.

                At 32 years of age and internationally capped for Wales, if Day doesn’t have the experience (yet), he never will.

          • May 15th 2017 @ 12:00pm
            Gepetto said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

            The ball was past the last feet and the tackled player was hanging on to it when the half back picked it up. I was available for pilfering and George was right to tackle the half because he had picked up he ball. George has an understanding of the rules but he doesn’t get ‘the vibe’. Referees penalise people who are too quick and skilful.

            • Roar Guru

              May 15th 2017 @ 12:02pm
              Train Without A Station said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

              The halfback had not picked the ball up.

              That’s why the ball was on the ground when he talk the halfback out.

            • Roar Rookie

              May 15th 2017 @ 12:25pm
              piru said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

              Referees penalise people who are too quick and skilful.

              Rubbish, without even having seen the event; if the tackled player still has the ball the ruck isn’t over.

          • May 15th 2017 @ 12:29pm
            Crash Ball2 said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

            If Smith’s game was a profit & loss report, his surplus credit for this game would make Goldman Sachs look like Goulburn Murray Credit Union Coop. He was – quite rightly – pinged for 4 penalties; two converted by the Rebels. And that was indeed more than you’d hope for in any match.

            The loss.

            By comparison, across all forwards that took the field on Saturday – Smith made the most tackles, most runs, most turnovers won, 2nd most passes, 4th most offloads.

            I find it interesting that so many commentators think of Smith as overwhelmingly a “defensive player” and then, in the same breath, distil attacking metrics down to “ball carrying”. Whereas, the quality and frequency of attacking possession – that prefaces backline ascendancy on the three quarter line – is gained further up each attacking phase’s lifecycle.

            Let’s discount for a moment Smith’s inevitable pilfers / forced turnovers / opposition ruck disruptions (“ho hum, soooo early 2000’s openside play, the game has like, totally moved on from like, contesting possession”). For the third game in a row, Smith quarterbacked a Reds attacking lineout; receiving the take down before forming the driving apex of a relentless rolling maul that secured yet another 5 pointer for Steven Moore (have a look at the incessant white shoes pushing metronomically through the centre of each of those well-formed drives). The movement is far less impressive than a sweeping, first phase set piece backline play, but the points gained are exactly the same and all of them are earned through brutal and muscular attacking dominance.

            Whilst Smith’s actual run metres were modest, (he still gained the second most metres across all Reds forwards), is the value of every metre the same? The bulk of Smith’s runs were made into the teeth of the Rebels forward pack where gainline metres are most cherished and hardest earned (I’m sure his fellow pack members appreciated this even if the Reds backs or casual TV observers did not). Though, a strong tight quarters running focus didn’t stop Smith from acting as the key linkman on a number of flowing backline plays and the effectiveness of Smith’s quick hands passing this season has been a feature.

            Smith is the best ruck cleaner in Australia. Years of dominating defensive breakdowns has given him a unique and intimate insight into the tapestry of balance, leverage and blunt force required to also decimate would-be jackals at attacking breakdowns. That, and a centre of gravity residing approximately seven centimetres off the ground. He is not attempting to attend every third attacking ruck as once he might have – partially because he is so often carrying the bulk of forward tight running duties – but his involvements are decisively and violently effective. In a team very poor at maintaining its own possession, Lord only knows how little pill the Reds would have ringfenced without GS wearing the 7 jersey this year.

            And speaking of violent, far from age wearing Smith, it appears to have only leant extra weight and power to an already superb tackle technique as any number of bruised opponents have discovered this season.

            The profit.

            A few Roar punters predicted preseason that 80 minutes of break neck, brutal Super Rugby would be beyond George Smith. That he would be riding the bench or wearing a suit on match days by mid-season. That his sparkling rugby legacy would be forever tarnished. The manifold choruses of “too old, too slow” have now manifested to the meekly vague “well, he ain’t the player he used to be”. And they’re right – he’s not. He’s different. And in some ways, better. And the Smith Train just keeps rollin’.

            So by all means, talk about the penalties. But put them in context. Because without George Smith on Saturday, the Reds don’t win.

            • Roar Guru

              May 15th 2017 @ 12:35pm
              Train Without A Station said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

              As much of a fan of him as I am, I disagree that without Smith the Reds don’t win. Without Smith the game is even potentially not as close due to the penalties allowing the Rebels into the game.

              Your comments about setting the maul were odd. He did his role in that situation as any other player would have. It was hardly evidence of any amazing skill what you noted.

              • May 15th 2017 @ 12:46pm
                Crash Ball2 said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

                Well TWAS, I disagree with your disagreement.

                “As any other player would have”. Yep, OK.

              • Roar Guru

                May 15th 2017 @ 12:49pm
                Train Without A Station said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

                Any other player in that position in a maul would have done the same.

                That’s exactly what they train to do.

                Smith’s role in this maul set up was that.

                I don’t get what your point is? You can see him pushing. Do other players not push in a maul?

              • Roar Guru

                May 15th 2017 @ 12:53pm
                Train Without A Station said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

                The other thing is the Reds have hardly just developed a well functioning maul since Smith arrived. That was one of their few attacking weapons last year.

                I highly doubt he has brought some quality to it which wasn’t already there.

              • May 15th 2017 @ 1:15pm
                Crash Ball2 said | May 15th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

                Function and quality are different things TWAS. It might be said, for example, that Samu Kerevi’s role is to make line breaks and offload in contact, as any other player would have.

                But if it pleases the court, forget Smith’s direct contribution to three successful rolling maul drives in three consecutive games. There’s a fair bit of peripheral evidence to suggest his balance sheet is fairly significantly in the black this week.

            • May 15th 2017 @ 12:37pm
              Neil said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

              Well put, CrashBall.

            • Roar Guru

              May 15th 2017 @ 5:06pm
              Kashmir Pete said | May 15th 2017 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

              Crash

              Many thanks for your comments.

              Working out what actually goes on, is for some of us who love the game, about as easy as knowing the rules by heart. Very much appreciate your insight.

              Must be part of interest in rugby for me, ongoing learning of its intricacies, even after some decades!

              Very best
              KP

              • May 15th 2017 @ 6:31pm
                Crash Ball2 said | May 15th 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

                Thanks KP (and Neil). I still learn something new about this great game every week as well.

            • Roar Guru

              May 16th 2017 @ 10:35am
              Timbo (L) said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

              Several paragraphs of Plaudits for Smith and what he does for a living.
              Unfortunately it is all academic because Cheika Selects a player that can’t/doesn’t do any of that instead opting for a second Number 12 in the #7 position.
              Run Meters, Pilfers and Tackles are the only stats that people will listen to,
              You point about run meters in close is so important. Distilled into numbers, 10 sets of 5 meters ground out close to the breakdown is judged the same as one open field run from half way.

              And they wonder why the Wallabies can’t win a game against the top sides.

          • May 15th 2017 @ 10:48pm
            Eduardo Kawak said | May 15th 2017 @ 10:48pm | ! Report

            Grubber kick while on attack near the Rebels 22 was the most blatant of his offences for my mind. I mean WTF George?

      • Roar Guru

        May 15th 2017 @ 9:49am
        Train Without A Station said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        He’s running game as been good for a tight forward in his role. Making another meter after the tackle contest most times and laying good platform for the next phase. He’s been doing this pretty consistently all this year.

      • May 15th 2017 @ 11:54am
        Neil said | May 15th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        Can’t agree with that, Sportscrazy. We finally have some depth in the lock positions, after having to rely on Simmons for too long. He is a weak carrier, average defender and is only saved by his set piece, which he does proficiently. Compared to the quality of test locks we will be going up against, he just does not rate. I have no idea why he was chosen over Coleman, who was outstanding in the Force’s win. Simmons only looked good because he was up against truly ineffectual opposition.

        • Roar Guru

          May 15th 2017 @ 12:04pm
          Train Without A Station said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          How is he an average defender?

          Makes a high number of tackles with few misses. That would be at least a decent defender.

          • May 15th 2017 @ 1:14pm
            jameswm said | May 15th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

            Maybe above average, but not by much. He’s a decent defender. Ordinary runner. No real offloading game. Very good in lineouts and above average in scrums.

            What depth do we have now? We only have Arnold and Coleman.

            • May 15th 2017 @ 1:35pm
              Neil said | May 15th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

              James, both Arnolds, Richie and Rory (what a pair of bookends), Coleman and Philp who has been holding down Coleman’s spot pretty well until rested/injured last weekend. Carter, much to my surprise this year, is a consistently better performer than Simmons. Lukhan Tui is waiting in the wings

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