I’ll start off by saying that this week – the scores in the Fox Sports Match Centres don’t lineup with the scores in the Fox Sports Stats Centre. I calculated the total team points for each fixture below from each match centre but in discussing players I’ll be talking about the scores listed in the Stats Centre. Sort it out @FoxSportsRugby !!
Round 14 Players in Focus
Hurricanes 38 – 34 Reds
608 points – 460 points
This game didn’t go as we anticipated, Brad Thorn must have given the Reds boys some serve because they certainly came to play in Wellington! What a contest. Ben Lam (89 points) was the star of the show in this fixture but not far behind him was another big man that fancies himself out on the wing, Reds tighthead, ‘The Tongan Thor,’ Taniela Tupou with 67 points. I had thought at the beginning of the season that Nela was going to be like Sona Taumalolo for the Chiefs in 2012, leading the competition try scorers until well into the back end of the season (think he had 8+ tries). He was definitely due a try having got over the line several times in recent weeks only to be held up and this was his week. He not only is a hard man to stop from under 5m but as shown by his foray down the sideline, he is hard to stop anywhere on the field. The big man can shift. Aside from his try, he had a try assist, 2 line breaks and 6 carries for 50m with 6 tackle busts (one per run!)
The other stand out performances came by way of; Beauden Barrett (61 points) for the Canes with a try through some incredibly soft defence, 6/6 goal kicks and 11 runs for 54m, 3 tacklebusts, a linebreak and linebreak created; Samu Kerevi (60 points) for the Reds with a try of his own, try assist, 8 runs for 103m, 2 tackle busts and 3 line breaks; and ‘the small island’ Sam Lousi (50 points) fining himself in space, with a try, 10 carries for 58m, 3 tackle busts, 2 linebreaks, 8 lineout takes and a lineout steal. The Hurricanes backrow supported well, Ardie Savea finding some consistentcy again with 46 points and Blade Thomson throwing some crazy offloads for 43 points.
Sunwolves 26 – 23 Stormers
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521 points – 385 points
What a game of rugby this was!! Not so much for fantasy points but the fightback from the Sunwolves and drop goal off Hayden Parker’s wrong foot to win it!!! Incredible. You can check out the game highlights here – worth a watch. Hayden Parker (40 points) can do no wrong at the moment, bagging himself another try and the ‘haydar’ was on song again making 6/6 kicks including the DG. Dilyn Leyds (50 points) topped this one, having one of his best games of the year for the Stormers on the right wing and scored a sensational solo try from about 70m out. An Amazing finish as well. Leyds ended up with 2 tries from his 4 runs for 95m, 4 tackle busts and linebreak. Grant Hattingh (46 points) had yet another strong showing for the sunwolves, with some strong carries resulting in a try and was immense at the lineout, taking 5 and stealing one. Kotaro Matsushima (41 points) was welcomed back with lots of ball, he looked dangerous with every carry. He made 13 runs for 89m, 6 tackle busts, a line break and created a line break. Two of the fantasy stars of the season had games well below their averages; Michael Little, son of Walter Little, for the Moondogs (37 points – average 48.2) and Pieter-Steph Du Toit for the Stormers (30 points – average 39.8)
Blues 24 – 32 Crusaders
423 points – 475 points
Tana Umaga signing on for another year, not having to rest the Ioane’s, key players returning from injury, it was all looking up for the Blues!! But of course the Crusaders got away with murder again!! For the second week in a row the match officials missed a yellow (if not red card) offense, again by a front rower, this time it was Owen Franks striking Blues hooker James Parsons. And they wonder why everyone hates them! Franks has since copped a 2 match ban, again having his 4 week sentence reduced for a good record – only having one other serious incident to note??? In my book if you have one other serious incident then you don’t have a clean record. How many ex-crusaders staff are on the Sanzaar disciplinary board?? A Question that needs answering. Moving on – this was a close fought affair, the Blues really having a go of it in the second half but it turns out the Blues need both the Ioane brothers to be firing on all cylinders to come away with a W.
Whilst Reiko topped the week with 94 points, Akira Ioane had his second worst performance of the season with 21 points. Richie Mo’unga (50 points) continues to perform every week; he made 5/7 goals and 8 runs for 96m, 3 tackle busts and 2 line breaks. Bryn Hall (46 points) had the best game of the year, probably actually the best game of his career, with a try, 6 runs for 60m, 3 tackle busts, 2 line breaks and creating a line break. Michael Collins (40 points) returned from injury from the bench and boy did he make an immediate impact. Collins had a try, try assist, 4 runs for 80m, 2 tackle busts and created 2 line breaks. David Havili (39 points) and the finisher George Bridge (37 points) did well out the back for the Crusaders and Sonny Bill Williams (35 points) was almost bang on his 36.2 point average. The Blues have the bye next week.
Waratahs 41 – 12 Highlanders
581 points – 324 points
The Drought is over! #1-Nil. We’ve found the secret to beating New Zealand teams. Make sure you only play against 14 men, 13 if possible but certainly no more than 14. Someone must have slipped Tevita Nabura (-6 points) some crisp bills upon landing at Kingsford-Smith airport, that or he was using the TV airtime to audition for the next season of Ultimate Fighter. There seems to be no explanation for his Bruce Lee impersonation, fly kicking Cam Clark in the face after taking a high ball, a feat that in itself is actually pretty impressive. Talk about multi tasking!!! Nabura’s red card likely was as much of a shock to the Highlanders as it was fantasy managers who had picked him up for the one/two week speccy and hoping for a decent return against the Tahs. Needless to say the game and fantasy points went the way of the Tahs, especially with Aaron Smith (also -6 points) helping out with his own yellow card and reducing the Landers to a rugby league team for 10 minutes.
Bernard Foley topped it with 87 points and behind him was the prop on the wing, Big Taqele Naiyaravoro (64 points) and Israel Folau (63 points). Big T ran in two tries, made 10 carries for 75m, 7 tackle busts and 2 linebreaks and Folau also ran in two tries, made 12 carries for 128m, 5 tackle busts and a linebreak. Curtis Rona (48 points) bagged himself a try and made 10 strong carries and a couple of line breaks as the beneficiary of Foley’s 5 line break creations. Highlanders co-captain Ash Dixon (48 points) was the pick of the Landers keeping his head down and working away, making 13 tackles (26 fantasy points for a front rower) and being rewarded with a try for his hard work.
Sharks 28 – 24 Chiefs
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453 points – 464 points
We thought the Sharks might blow this one out but it wasn’t to be. The Chiefs without any of their All Blacks really did look rudderless, particularly with Marty Mackenzie (15 points) commanding the ship. Marty needs to pop a zanex or something before taking the field because if he just calm’s down he has the skills to run that back line well. We’ve seen him do a good job off the bench for the Crusaders last year but he has yet to perform for the Chiefs. In terms of fantasy points, this was a pretty unexciting game, the fixture was topped by Lukhanyo Am (48 points) and Lwazi Mvovo (43 points) who both ran well with ball in hand. The Chiefs were led by their co-captain Charlie Ngatai (42 points) and Canadian International lock/backrower Tyler Ardron (42 points). I think we all expected Ngatai to be injured again by now but am glad that he isn’t and is performing consistently. He slid into outside center this week and really stepped up with the absence of some key players, he scored an intercept try, made 9 runs for 82m, 2 tackle busts and 10 tackles. After Solomon Alaimalo, Tyler Ardron has probably been the find of the season for the Chiefs. Whilst they sorely missed Brodie Retallick, Tyler got in there and did the dirty work. Jean-Luc Du Preez (18 points) had his worst game since returning from injury in round 4 and was subbed early in the second half rather than playing out the 80 as per usual.
Lions 42 – 24 Brumbies
532 points – 384 points
This Lions really blew this one out in the end but it had to be one of the most wholesome performances the Brumbies have put on in 2018. We really liked the combinations of Valentini (21 points), Pocock (8 points) and Naisarani (17 points) in the backrow and the Lealiifano (53 points), Godwin (11 points) & Kurindrani (36 points) midfield. Sadly Valentini re injured his MCL and will likely be out for the rest of the season (be sure to check out The Casualty Ward for all your Super Rugby Injury Information). We were also excited to see the Lions midfield go well, everyone loves (a fit) Rohan Janse Van Rensburg (47 points) terrorizing defenses but I particularly think people were excited to see how Aphiwe Diyanti (21 points) would go in the 13 jersey. Whilst Rohan was back to doing what he does best, running it straight up the guts and breaking tackles, Diyanti just didn’t seem to get the ball with any room to move.
Lourens Erasmus (55 points) topped this game off the back of a try and some strong carries, making 7 tackle busts from 11 runs. Christian Leali’ifano (53 points), Tom Banks (51 points) and Folau Fainga’a (45 points) were best on park for the Brumbies, Leali’ifano looking incredible after a few rest weeks off and Banks shredding the defence with his pace. Banks ran in two quality tries by cutting good lines and putting on the afterburners. Robbie Coetzee and Kwagga Smith got the dirty work done for the Lions forward back, both with 39 points and Tevita Kurindrani (36 points) brought back the Choo Choo try celebration after crossing the line in one of his standard crash balls from set piece.
Jaguares 54 – 24 Bulls
647 points – 429 points
We weren’t sure what to expect after the rest week from the Jaguares. They had one hell of a tour, winning 4 from 4 in Australia and New Zealand but they just picked up right where they left off and this time they had the home crowd advantage. Apart from Warwick Gelant (51 points) and Jesse Kriel (42 points) it was all the Jaguares on the fantasy front in this fixture. It was a points frenzy in both the game score and fantasy scoreboards and if you had stuck with your Jaguares players you would be a happy manager.