We saw glimpses of what Australian rugby could produce in a thrilling derby between the Rebels and Waratahs, with NSW the only Aussie team to notch a round six win.
Who stood out along the way last weekend?
1. Ben Daley
The Force scrum has been strong this season and that continued on the weekend, with the Perth side getting the better of the Crusaders for much of the game. Their starting front row has been rotated this season, and Daley has stepped up when given his chances.
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau
Tatafu Polota-Nau got his first start for the Force, against the Crusaders, ad took his opportunity with both hands. The Force did not lose a lineout all night, with nine throws off Polota-Nau and two off Heath Tessman. The Wallabies backup hooker also put pressure on in defence.
3. Sekope Kepu
The Waratahs got the better of the Rebels scrum, particularly late in Friday night’s game, and Kepu played his usual integral part in that.
4. Matt Philip
This young second rower was given a big task when Adam Coleman suffered a calf injury, but he has stepped into that void with promise. Philip collected the most lineouts of the Force side in the game, and finished with 10 tackles, proving his effectiveness in defence.
5. Sam Carter
Carter continues to grow with the captaincy responsibility, doing everything he could against the Highlanders to help the Brumbies clinch an unlikely win. His composure has been essential among a new-look side.
6. Jordy Reid
The Rebels backrow had their way with the Waratahs on the weekend and Reid was among the most damaging. Two turnovers were key to the Rebels’ early momentum, as the continues to try and play the Sean McMahon ‘Mad dog’ role.
7. Colby Faingaa
Faingaa was yellow-carded in the final five minutes of Friday’s gripping Aussie derby but until that point was pretty much his side’s best. Nine tackles and two turnovers don’t really tell the story of his influence, but the openside has been in super form and that continued last weekend.
8. Amanaki Mafi
The term ‘beast mode’ was coined to describe players like Mafi, who had another huge game for the Rebels. The number eight finished with 18 tackles and one turnover in his fifth Rebels game of a debut Super Rugby season that has caught everyone’s attention.
9. Jake Gordon
Gordon had his first starting opportunity against the Rebels and showed glimpses of his promise in that stint. In a far more settled backline, steered by Bernard Foley, Gordon brought the energy under pressure. Will be interesting to see if it’s enough to retain the nine jersey for another week.
10. Bernard Foley
Bernard Foley showed he is basically the most valuable Australian player, in his return against the Waratahs. Foley said himself he was rusty after a month out with concussion, but he made a major difference to a Waratahs side that has lacked direction in 2017. His defensive efforts were influential as well, dragging down the rampaging Marika Koroibete at a crucial juncture. The Waratahs, and the Wallabies, can simply not afford to lose him again.
11. Marika Koroibete
It’s amazing how far Marika Koroibete has come since his round two Super Rugby debut in Wellington. While his attacking potency has been well-documented, what was more crucial for the Rebels on Friday night was his defence. He finished with seven tackles - a mountainous effort for a winger.
12. David Horwitz
It was a close battle between Horwitz and his opposite number, Reece Hodge, for this spot, but clinching the match-winning try sealed it for the Randwick product. You need some kahunas to snub a handful of Wallabies and back yourself to cross, but that’s exactly what he did, and it paid off.
13. Samu Kerevi
Sunday morning’s loss to the Jaguares was a debacle for Queensland, partly their own fault and partly that of a trigger-happy referee, but Kerevi showed his performance is not dependent on his team’s with a super effort. Had the most run metres of any Reds player and gave them a spark in attack.
14. Alex Newsome
An intercept try on your Super Rugby debut against the undefeated Crusaders in Christchurch - anyone would be happy to take that. Newsome is a highly-rated U20s player and proved he has the instincts to take him further after last weekend. The Force have some backs.
15. Karmichael Hunt
This is a crunch season for Karmichael Hunt, the last of a three-season deal with the Reds, but he has been one of the few consistent performances. A couple of errors late were costly but was one of the best for the Reds overall.