Super Rugby round 14 team of the week
May 21, 2013
Berrick Barnes was brilliant in his cameo © Getty Images
Round 14, as is always the case, produced numerous candidates in some positions, and not so many in others. Selecting a team is never easy, but such imbalance just makes an already difficult task all the more harder. Anyway, the team is in, and you can have your say in the comments below, or using the #ScrumFive and #TOTW hashtags on Twitter.
15. Luke Morahan (Reds)
The Western Force-bound fullback was excellent in his first game back for several weeks, making numerous breaks and denied a try only by the TMO, for which coach Ewen McKenzie suggested the men upstairs were "pulling camera angles out of their bums" to find a forward pass.
14. Willie Le Roux (Cheetahs)
Right wing was one of those positions where there weren't so many standouts, and it wasn't far off a coin toss between "Spiders" le Roux and Peter Betham of New South Wales Waratahs. Le Roux got the nod through his ability to spark the Cheetahs from seemingly nothing. Interesting, but not surprising, to hear him being mentioned as a Sevens option for the Blitzbokke.
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs)
In the Super Rugby form of his life, without a shadow of a doubt. Finally got a win against his old side, too, after three fruitless attempts. Relishing in running the straight lines and inside angles into contact, and has been a major benefactor from fly-half Bernard Foley's greatly improved running game.
12. Berrick Barnes (Waratahs)
There was a good few minutes' worth of debate in the press box on Saturday night as to whether Barnes was playing 10 or 12, but finally we settled on inside centre. Either way, he was brilliant in his second-half cameo, including scoring the try that got the Waratahs to back within a point of the Brumbies. And rugby league followers would've noted a hint of Wally Lewis in Barnes' angled run to score in the corner untouched.
11. Nick Cummins (Force)
There wouldn't be many wingers in Australia, at the very least, with higher levels of enthusiasm than Nick Cummins, and yet again on Friday night he was a constant threat to the Sharks' outside defenders. His excellent return over the past few weeks saw him named as the Force's only representative in Robbie Deans' initial squad to face the British & Irish Lions.
10. Dan Carter (Crusaders)
Carter's vision and attacking prowess is well documented, with many a superlative used in descriptions. However, against the Blues, it was his midfield defence that really captured the attention. Whatever the Blues sent at him, he brought it down. Just a superb player and no coincidence the Crusaders are "back" with Carter back at the helm.
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs)
"TKB" looks to be well and truly back to his best after his broken jaw, and he was so often the spark from which the Chiefs mounted their attack , in the slippery surrounds of the Cake Tin in Wellington. When he's on, Kerr-Barlow takes so much pressure off Aaron Cruden, which in turn makes the Chiefs even harder to topple.
Waratahs 28 - 22 Brumbies (video available only in Australia)%]
8. Ben Mowen (Brumbies)
It could've been Scott Higginbotham, and then I was sure it would be Kieran Read, but Mowen won out with a superb captain's knock in a losing side. His Wallabies squad selection was widely applauded - overdue, some would argue - and it was just reward for consistently good Super Rugby season thus far.
7. Michael Hooper (Waratahs)
This was a close run selection as well, with George Smith not that far behind Hooper at all, even in only playing 60 minutes. At the breakdown, where Michael Cheika conceded the Brumbies "probably got us", Hooper was the constant point of pressure, and maybe even the reason why the Brumbies' ruck dominance wasn't more pronounced.
Cheetahs 27 - 13 Reds (video available only in Australia)%]
6. Lappies Labuschagne (Cheetahs)
Labuschagne produced a classic blindsider's game, immense as both a hard-running Reds defence-bender, and particularly as a hard-tackling Reds attack-bender. If it was wearing a Red jersey, Labuschagne was all over it.
5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
Got the charge-down that led to the only try of the night, and proved yet again why he's one of the best young locks in Super Rugby by dominating the lineout - an area in which the Hurricanes had enjoyed success themselves only the week before.
4. Hugh Pyle (Rebels)
Was probably shaded only by his skipper as the Rebels' best in their impressive nine-point win over the Stormers, and more than held his own against the twin towers of Springboks Andries Bekker and Eben Etzebeth. With only three specialist locks named for the Wallabies, Pyle could be in the running as one of the six players added to the squad on June 11.
3. Owen Franks (Crusaders)
We love props scoring tries here at #TotW, but Franks had been pencilled in for his scrum dominance and superb defence well before he crossed the stripe in the 48th minute against the Blues. And we certainly don't concern ourselves with trivialities like props admitting later that it wasn't actually them who scored said try. Look at the scoreboard, Owen, bask in the glory.
2. Chilliboy Ralepelle (Bulls)
It was hard to pick a standout from the Bulls' 35-18 win over the cellar-dwelling Highlanders, but Ralepelle was a solid contributor both at set-piece and around the park. A timely display, given Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis is still a week-to-week proposition in terms of getting back on the field.
1. Benn Robinson (Waratahs)
I thought he'd been quiet when watching the game live, but a repeated viewing showed him getting through a mountain of work and doing something of a number on Wallabies team-mate Ben Alexander at scrum time. A big test of his scrummaging powers arrives in a few weeks' time, though.
Notable mentions: Ben Smith (Highlanders fullback), Kyle Godwin (Force, inside centre), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes, fly-half), Nick Stirzaker (Rebels, scrum-half), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks, opensider), Chris Alcock (Force, opensider), Liam Messam (Chiefs, blindsider), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders, lock), Ben Funnell (Crusaders, hooker).
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal
Laurie Fisher talks about the Brumbies and Gloucester, and provides revealing thoughts on the player involvement during the glory days in Canberra