Super Rugby round three, team of the week
March 3, 2013
Chiefs showed title credentials in running over the Cheetahs%]
Sharks 12 - 6 Stormers Bulls 36 - 26 Force Chiefs 45 - 3 Cheetahs Reds 18 - 12 Hurricanes Waratahs 31 - 26 Melbourne Rebels Blues 34 - 15 Crusaders
Gareth Anscombe Aaron Cruden Kane Douglas Charlie Faumuina Deon Fourie Liam Gill Frank Halai Brendan McKibbin Liam Messam Rene Ranger Kieran Read Brodie Retallick Benn Robinson Francis Saili Julian Savea
Australia Blues Bulls Cheetahs Chiefs Crusaders Hurricanes Melbourne Rebels New South Wales Waratahs New Zealand Rebels Sharks South Africa Stormers Waratahs
15. Gareth Anscombe (Chiefs)
Produced a sparkling performance with six from six from the boot and one try; he was dangerous every time he got the ball, and was key in defence as the champions stifled the Cheetahs in the first half. The Blues aren't lamenting his move just yet, but ...
14. Frank Halai (Blues)
Two tries against the Crusaders, after his brace against the Hurricanes, 58 run metres and one line break; what more can you want from a winger?
13. Rene Ranger (Blues)
Incredibly dangerous with ball in hand, he made key breaks in moves that set up tries against the Crusaders. Found space throughout the night, and solid in defence. He would be giving All Blacks selectors pause for thought had he not signed to play in France.
12. Francis Saili (Blues)
Incredibly good against the Crusaders, making a personal impact that also allowed fly-half Chris Noakes and outside centre Rene Ranger to function better. But his real impact was in his organisation of the defensive line that stifled the South Islanders.
11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
Powerful on the wing, and went hunting for the ball: eight runs for 80+ metres and two linebreaks, he was one of the stars of the round.
10. Aaron Cruden (Chiefs)
Organised his backs without the ball in the first half, and conjured magic with it in the second stanza. Morne Steyn and Kurtley Beale also had dibs on the jumper, but Cruden's form, reminiscent of his best of 2012, was good enough.
The Waratahs produced another stirring comeback, but this time, against the Rebels, they achieved victory%]
9. Brendan McKibbin (Waratahs)
Solid all-round performance against the Rebels, steering the team around the paddock with aplomb as the Tahs showed there really is life under Michael Cheika.
8. Kieran Read (Crusaders)
The Crusaders captain seemingly was the only player from his team to turn up against the Blues, and he may even have been the best player on the pitch. Did everything we have come to expect from him; sadly his team-mates did not follow his lead.
7. Liam Gill (Reds)
Luke Braid had a lock on the jumper for his performance against the Crusaders, but then Liam Gill produced a barnstorming all-round effort against the Hurricanes - doing everything including making the match-sealing try at the death. Robbie Deans has more than David Pocock and Michael Hooper to consider as his fetcher.
6. Liam Messam (Chiefs)
Produced a good all-round effort, scoring a try, making tackles and doing all the dirty work as normal to inspire the Chiefs out of their slumber to rumble away from the Cheetahs.
5. Kane Douglas (Waratahs)
A man mountain in the second half for the Waratahs against the Rebels, and supported Israel Folau well to feed Bernard Foley with a lovely pop pass for the pivot's try. Will be at the forefront of Robbie Deans' thoughts for the British & Irish Lions series.
4. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
He produced a charismatic performance, magnificent in the tight five, and was the man of the match against the Cheetahs. He may even have been the man of the round. He was everywhere, and his chargedown that led to Ben Afeaki's try was simply the most visible of his efforts.
The Blues demonstrated title credentials in demolishing the Crusaders%]
3. Charlie Faumuina (Blues)
Solid in the scrum and highly visible in the loose, making eight runs, he produced a prop's prop performance.
2. Deon Fourie (Stormers)
Players cannot stand out in a 12-6 arm-wrestle that features no tries, but the Stormers rake was everywhere with a performance that had "Springboks" written all over it. He had a shocker against the Bulls the week before, but, boy, did he bounce back.
1. Benn Robinson (Waratahs).
How can you go past a prop who makes two linebreaks? Thoroughly justified his recall to the starting side, and Michael Cheika probably won't be dropping him to the bench again any time soon.
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship