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Team of the week 16

Author
Nigel Yalden,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 5 June 2018, 11:35AM

Week 16 of Super Rugby saw the beautifully efficient Crusaders machine rolled on; the Highlanders scored a big win in a congesting Wildcard battle while the Blues remained winless at home in 2018.  Before Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden gets into full-on All Blacks, he’s ripped into the peanut butter Oreo’s, washing them down with a coffee (or two) and selected his Team of the Week:

1 Karl Tu’inukuafe (Chiefs) was active, physical in tight, scrummed well, didn’t miss a tackle and snaffled a turn over too; a good night ahead of a possible first involvement in test match rugby at some point over the next three weeks

2 Codie Taylor (Crusaders) stamped his mark on the game in Hamilton with his quick tap that caught the Chiefs napping for the Bedwell-Curtis try in the fifth minute.  The rest of his work on the night in all areas was just as sharp

3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen (Hurricanes) was the most consistent of an OK-but-hardly-outstanding group of tighthead props

4 Scott Barrett (Crusaders) once again thrived with extra responsibility in the absence of Sam Whitelock.  His play in the last month will give him massive confidence ahead of an almost certain against the French this weekend

5 Tom Franklin (Highlanders) was to the fore on Friday but this time more with his ball carrying than defence, though that was still pretty darn solid in that department.  Here’s hoping he can make the most of another taste of the All Blacks environment

6 In Ethan Blackadder (Crusaders), the Crusaders have got themselves another tireless, athletic, combative and accurate loose forward.  He attacks the ball offensively and defensively and did so with relentless regularity in Hamilton, which Matt Todd acknowledged post match allows him a much wider scope as an openside flanker – Forward of the Week

7 It’s not surprising to hear Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) turned up to All Blacks camp feeling a bit sore after his effort against the Highlanders.   He just ploughed into everything, with or without ball, including a game high 20 tackles and 11 powerful carries

8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (Crusaders) continues to do what he does, without fanfare or fuss; part of a Crusaders loose forward trio that complimented each other quite brilliantly against the Chiefs

9 Aaron Smith (Highlanders) helped the Highlanders gain control then dictate terms as they ground the Hurricanes down.

10 Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders) is the form first five of Super Rugby heading into the June break and has earned his spot on the bench for the first test with intelligent, consistent performances since returning from an injury enforced break

11 George Bridge (Crusaders) was rock solid in all aspects of his play against the Chiefs.  He carried often and effectively (15 carries for 82 metres), finished his sole scoring opportunity with aplomb and was excellent defensively

12 David Havili (Crusaders) shifted from fullback to second five and appeared to love every confrontational, hardnosed minute of it.  His carries were hard and direct – a couple of great ones from scrums just out from the Crusaders own try line – and defensively he was equally as hard and accurate – Back of the Week

13 Seta Tamanivalu’s (Crusaders) performance was over shadowed by the two men on his inside, yet it was just a crucial to the success of the defending in Hamilton. NB Way to many tackles missed by the centres in the NZ derby matches over the weekend; 12 misses out of 38 attempted is not good enough 

14 Waisake Naholo (Highlanders) delivered a quality all round game as is reflected by his receiving of the Russell Westbrook Stat Line of the Week award with 10 carries for 102 metres gained, 5 defenders beaten, 2 clean line breaks, 2 off loads, 4 tackles, 2 turnovers won & a try

15 Last Friday was Ben Smith’s (Highlanders) 32nd birthday but it was the fans at Forsyth Barr Stadium who got a present as Otago’s favourite so delivered a near flawless display

Selection criteria: Must play for a NZ franchise but does not have to be eligible for All Blacks

**NIGEL YALDEN IS RUGBY EDITOR FOR RADIO SPORT & NEWSTALK ZB

 

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