Well that was some good footy! Now I’ll give you that Force v Stormers game didn’t set the world on fire, and the weather (and the visitors) impacted the quality of the Tahs v Cheetahs match, but the rest of the round was pretty damn good. And all the Aussies won! [ed: really?] The aforementioned Force game was dour but a credit to the boys from out west. A nice tough win.
The Tahs took care of the Cheetahs in a fairly blah kind of a game. No offense to the Waratahs, but that Cheetah team looked pretty bloody mindless. As Greg Martin proffered, would Juan Smith really want to come back to play for them? And the Reds lost. But curiously it was still a positive. They moved up a spot into 5th spot and have yet to produce the typical ‘drop their bundle’ performance we’ve come to expect from them, at least a couple of times a season. [ed: oh, so that’s the win…]
All this quality made it an interesting week in terms of selecting the best of the best.
Team of the week:
15 Kurtley Beale (WARATAHS)
14 Drew Mitchell (WARATAHS)
13 Rob Horne (WARATAHS)
12 Berrick Barnes (WARATAHS)
11 Digby Ioane (REDS)
10 Quade Cooper (REDS)
9 Chris O’Young (FORCE)
8 Matt Hodgson (FORCE)
7 David Pocock (FORCE)
6 Ben McCalman (FORCE)
5 Dean Mumm (WARATAHS)
4 Nathan Sharpe (FORCE)
3 Al Baxter (WARATAHS)
2 Ben Whitaker (FORCE)
1Ben Daley (REDS)
Isn’t it great to see so many Force players there? Obviously it helps when they win, but it is good for Australian Rugby to see lots of new players sticking their hand up such as the youngsters Whitaker and McCalman. Mitch Inman wouldn’t have been too far away either, if it wasn’t for the outstanding Rob Horne. And David Pocock? Welcome back sir. We’ve missed you. Well, only a little due to the outstanding form of Matt Hodgson, but still…
All Tahs 12-15. Berrick may not have deserved man of the match, but it was an encouraging performance by him and I reckon he’ll really start to kick into gear now. Likewise Kurtley at the back. He’ll be tested next week against Dan Carter in Christchurch, but this was a nice confidence booster. It was the deftness of some of his passes, even the forward ones, that most excited me.
Plenty of other candidates really. David Hill and Daniel Halangahu could have been considered if it wasn’t for the brilliance that was Quade Cooper. Also in the halves, the choice between Luke Burgess and O’Young was tight, whilst the Sharks managed to limit Genia’s impact (but not the beauty that is his pass).
In the pack the Reds were well served by Jake Schatz, Van Humphries and Laurie Weeks. Whilst the Tah piggies Chris Alcock (in a busy debut), Kane Douglas, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Benn Robinson all had their moments. Tim Fairbrother, out west, is really starting to play well albeit in a fairly old school prop style of play whilst Tom Hocking is just another young two metre tall lock that’s giving us hope for the future.
Player of the Round:
Can anyone surpass the brilliance that was Quade Cooper of the Reds? I don’t want to sway the voting but that was as dominant performance as we’ve seen for a while from a Aussie back in Super Rugby. Dean Mumm’s performance, filling in as skipper for the injured Phil Waugh, was of high quality. A slow start to the season has been turned around and Mumm is showing that perhaps he can finally nail down a consistent Wallaby spot. There’s something about that Number 7 Force jersey isn’t there? Matt Hodgson has starred in it so far in 2010, but with the return of David Pocock came the return of something special. Tackles, ball carries , plenty of work at the breakdown and a try. It’s like he never left.
Try of the Round:
A few gooduns to pick from this week. The first, well it takes something special, to score a try against a defence as tight as the Stormers. The David Pocock try was a handy little effort with some nice sleight of foot from James O’Connor together with a bit of interplay between Mitch Inman and Mark Bartholomeauz before Pocock finished it off.
For the Tahs I reckon it’s the Robbie Horne try. Sure you’ll call for recognition of Weird Al’s try. And it get’s votes for sentimental reasons. But loses if for everything else. Horne’s had some wonderful lead up by Barnes and Beale before some phase play ended with those two again combining to send the tremendously athletic Horne in for the try.
From the Red’s game we’ll go no further than the first try by Quade Cooper. The try itself showcased some brilliant footwork but the lead up was just as special with a lot of that back and forward interplay we’ve come to enjoy from the Reds this year.
Moment of the Round:
I’ve mentioned the Force win a few times this article and it gets another mention here. David Hill’s drop goal to seal the win, after the siren, sent the team in deserved celebrations. They’ve battled hard this season, seemingly always behind the 8-ball. You can see an improved resilience since their shellacking at the hands of the Reds and this win was well earned. With more stars due back in coming weeks, they can play a real role in the rest of the Super season. And perhaps they’ve given us all a reason to question the legitimate merits of both the Bulls and the Stormers, away from home, as championship contenders.