Well, we have finally come to the end of the regular season, and for three Aussie sides it finished on a distinct high. The Force, Tahs and Reds all recorded good wins to give their supporters some hope for the finals (in the case of the Reds and Tahs) or next season (in the case of the Force). Sadly, the Brumbies and Rebels came second yet again, and have a lot of work to do if they want to be competitive next season.
Team of the Round:
15 Kurtley Beale – WARATAHS
14 David Smith – FORCE
13 Mark Gerrard – REBELS
12 Ben Tapuai – REDS
11 Lachie Turner – WARATAHS
10 Quade Cooper – REDS
9 Will Genia – REDS
8 Dave Dennis – WARATAHS
7 Liam Gill – REDS
6 Matt Hodgson – FORCE
5 Sitaleki Timani – WARATAHS
4 Rob Simmons – REDS
3 Greg Holmes – REDS
2 Tatafu Polota-Nau – WARATAHS
1 Ben Daley – REDS
Almost half the side comes from the Reds’ gutsy win over the Chiefs on Saturday afternoon. There are five Waratahs, two from the Force and one Rebel.
Ben Daley and Greg Holmes managed to contain the Chiefs’ scrum and had industrious games in the loose. Despite not getting close to the full 80 minutes and hobbling around the field like an old man, TPN gets the nod for his dynamism in both attack and defence. Big Al Baxter was unlucky, as he had a good spell before being knocked cold by Timani’s melon around half-time.
Speaking of Sitaleki Timani, he was outstanding this weekend and was one of the first picked. His second row partner was not so easy to pick, but in the end we settled on the ever-reliable Rob Simmons. In the back row we have Matt Hodgson, Liam Gill and Dave Dennis, with each player being at the centre of the weekend’s big plays and key moments. Dave Pocock, Jarrod Saffy and Jake Schatz were unlucky to miss out.
Genia and Cooper are the 9 and 10 yet again, while Ben Tapuai and Mark Gerrard make up an unlikely centre pairing. Tapuai is visibly growing in the Red 12 jersey, while Gerrard has not missed a beat all season and continued to stand out in a beaten side. It was a good weekend for inside backs, with Giteau, Stannard, Sheehan and Burgess all having outstanding matches.
At the back we have Kurtley Beale (again), David Smith and Lachie Turner. Smith and Beale are in scintillating form, while Turner was solid in a position where no one really stood out.
Player of the Round:
The votes are in from the forum, and the nominees for Player of the Week have been announced. The viewers of the Friday night game between the Rebels and Force have provided us with two names: Brett Sheehan and Mark Gerrard. The grizzled veterans both finished the season on a high, with Matt Hodgson and Gareth Delve also polling well.
The Reds fans largely agreed that young gun Liam Gill was their best. Will Genia also had plenty of love. Finally, the ACT-NSW derby gave us Dave Dennis and Matt Giteau, with Timani and Vaea filling the minors.
Try of the Round:
There wasn’t an abundance of tries to choose from this weekend, so I’ll once again have to turn to the Tahs, who in the last few weeks have been the entertainers of the competition. I have chosen the bustling effort of Chris Alcock, who broke through the Brumbies defence out of nothing, and left defenders in his wake to go in under the sticks. It was the try that turned a win into a flogging, and had the Tahs fans on their feet. Have a look for yourself:
Moment of the Round:
There was no one defining moment of the weekend, but when the full-time whistle blew in Hamilton the Reds had secured their first Super Rugby minor premiership for twelve years. Which is an achievement in itself, but when you consider where they were a few short years ago it is truly a brilliant effort. Yes, the pressure is now on to finish the job, but win or lose, this season has been a great advertisement for Queensland rugby and Super Rugby more broadly.
What were your highlights and lowlights of the weekend?