Round 7 of the 2013 Super Rugby tournament provided the action and excitement that fans were hoping for from the interesting match-ups, and a number of players put their hands up and deserve some credit.
The Reds grabbed a tight win over the Highlanders, while the Kings came up against a strong Hurricanes performance in Wellington.
The Chiefs continued their campaign with a win over the Blues, the Bulls had victory snapped up from a late Brumbies penalty, and the Cheetahs made history with a fourth consecutive win as they defeated the Rebels in Bloemfontein.
Rounding off the weekend, the Crusaders travelled to Cape Town and defeated the Stormers, while the Waratahs found something to smile about with a win over the Western Force.
With all the great results, which players stood tallest?
1. Scott Sio (Brumbies) – the young Brumbies prop showed that he has what it takes to come up against some of the best. Sio was powerful against the Bulls and is clearly a viable ball-carrying option as well.
2. Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs) – Adriaan Strauss always leads by example, and the Cheetahs captain did so by making an unbelievable amount of tackles, runs and contributions throughout their game against the Rebels.
3. Owen Franks (Crusaders) – Owen Franks once again showed his class and stood up strongly against the Stormers pack.
4. Luke Ramano (Crusaders) – Romano was up against arguably the best second row in the competition, and he rose to the occasion and added even extra.
5. Sam Whitelock (Crusaders) – one of the many Whitelocks that stood out against the Stormers, Sam Whitelock was strong in the lineouts and caused havoc for Andries Bekker throughout the game.
6. Brad Shields (Hurricanes) – the young flanker was immense and hit the line hard every time he had the ball. Kolisi just beats out the Stormers’ Siya Kolisi, who also had a great game against the Crusaders.
7. Liam Gill (Reds) – Gill is growing in stature every week, and is certainly putting up his hand for a Wallaby selection later this year.
8. Duane Vermeulen (Stormers) – despite the loss, the big number 8 had a great game on defence, winning every collision on the field.
9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) – the unpredictable Hurricanes scrumhalf had a strong game against the Kings, and in addition to providing great ball for Barrett, wasn’t afraid to have a go himself, rewarding himself with a try in the process.
10. Quade Cooper (Reds) – while he often puts his team under a lot of unnecessary pressure, Cooper’s on-the-fly decisions worked against the Highlanders. His goal kicking was solid and a few breaks of his own continued to add to his regained confidence.
11. Raymond Rhule (Cheetahs) – Rhule has shown he’s so much more than a speedster, by delivering two beautiful passes that resulted in tries, along with some great off-the-ball work.
12. Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies) – Lealiifano had another great game at centre, and in addition to the slotting the winning penalty, the agile back defended and attacked the Bulls excellently.
13. Richard Kahui (Chiefs) – the big Chiefs centre is back in style, and while his contributions were small, they were instrumental. His passing, kicking and tackling was superb.
14. Willie le Roux (Cheetahs) – Willie le Roux’s talent surely cannot be overlooked by the Springbok selectors. Le Roux has to be one of the most versatile backline players in the competition, filling into the playmaker, link, try-scorer and defensive roles brilliantly.
15. Hennie Daniller (Cheetahs) – Daniller just beats out the Brumbies’ Robbie Coleman, but Daniller was just great with every touch of the ball. Solid at the back in terms of defence and joined the line timeously in attack.
Who were your picks for the weekend? Any player that stood out that you think deserves a mention?