Round 13 of the 2013 Super Rugby tournament has wrapped up, but who were the players that made an impression?
The weekend’s action saw the Blues overcome the Rebels, the Sharks falter to an impressive Reds performance, the Chiefs slipped past a spirited Western Force side; and while the Stormers and Cheetahs lost their respective matches, the Kings surprised their home crowd by defeating the Highlanders.
The encounters provided the platform for a number of players to raise their hands due to their outstanding performances.
1. Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs) – the big Cheetahs front-rower was immense despite not getting the win. Oosthuizen showed why he’s a crowd favourite – causing havoc in the scrums, making some big hits, and requiring literally a number of players to stop him everytime he carried the ball.
2 Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs) – while he almost knocked himself out a number of times, Polota-Nau was great for the Waratahs, as he tackled his heart out and put his body on the line. The Waratahs scrum also hold strong, and Polota-Nau was undoubtedly a catalyst in that.
3. James Slipper (Reds) – Slipper had a good game against a strong Sharks front row. His carries and support play were also impressive.
4. Sitaleki Timani (Waratahs) – the Waratahs forwards were the primary reason for their win over the Stormers, and Timani putting in some massive hits and powerful runs, not to mention some solid jumping in the lineouts against the best in the business.
5. Kane Douglas (Waratahs) – the parternship betweem Douglas and Timani is a good one, and Douglas was good at the breakdown and, just like his lock partner, contested the lineouts excellently.
6. Liam Messam (Chiefs) – Liam Messam was once again impressive, doing all the hard work and not letting one tackle slip. Very few can compete with Messam when he’s at his best.
7. Liam Gill (Reds) – Gill may not be the bulkiest loose forward in the competition, but he more than makes up for it with his turnovers and gutsy tackles, which more often than not see him driving the opposition backwards.
8. Cornell du Preez (Southern Kings) – the Kings have really proven many critics wrong, and their win over the Highlanders was another great moment in front of the PE crowd. Cornell du Preez is clearly not intimidated by any world-class player, and frightened the Highlanders with his direct runs. His back-of-the-hand pass which led to Venter’s try also showed that the big number 8 has some handling skills.
9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) – the Hurricanes weren’t at all perfect against the Cheetahs, but Perenara had a strong game in Bloemfontein. The young scrumhalf was dangerous around the fringes, and his try was just-reward for his hard work.
10. Quade Cooper (Reds) – Quade Cooper was a huge role in the win over the Sharks, with the playmaker being instrumental in every one of the Reds’ tries. His on-the-fly decisions often put his team under pressure, but on Friday, they were exactly what was needed to get above the opposition.
11. Nick Cummins (Western Force) – the Force never got the win over the Chiefs, but one of the standout players was Wallaby winger Nick Cummins. He seemed to always break the first tackle and had a number of clean breaks that kept his team on the front foot and in the game.
12.Francis Saili (Blues) – despite the one debatable call regarding Saili’s control on the ball before his first try, the Blues centre was brilliant throughout the match. Dangerous whenever he had ball in hand, giving his outside backs space and great service, while also remaining solid on defence.
13. Rene Ranger (Blues) – the Blues backline were on fire against the Rebels, and if anyone is going to set things alight, it’s Rene Ranger. The exciting back returned in the outside centre position and became an absolute nightmare for defenders. After tearing up the Rebels, bouncing off James O’Connor, and setting up Saili’s first try, he scored a deserved 5-pointer of his own. A great performance for Ranger.
14. Frank Halai (Blues) – the Reds’ Rod Davies was great on the wing this weekend, but Halai’s hat-trick against the Rebels overshadowed Davies. Halai showed strength, skill and quick feet to score a variety of tries, showing that he’s the perfect go-to man to finish plays.
15. Israel Folau (Waratahs) – he made a few mistakes, but Folau stood up tall against the Stormers. He cut through the defence a number of times, and his match-winning try was well-deserved. While his positioning at the back has been questioned, he’s grown substantially as each week goes by, and has shown that he should be on the Wallaby radar.