Who stood out on another disappointing weekend for Australian rugby?
Here are our best XV.
1. Toby Smith
It was a tough day for the Rebels but Toby Smith put in a solid performance in his first start after a serious hamstring injury. In just his second game of the season, Smith brought plenty of much-needed experience to the Rebels pack, and it showed in his combination with Laurie Weeks and James Hanson.
2. Tolu Latu
Latu continues to lead the way when it comes to hookers in Australian rugby. Scored a try that helped spark the Waratahs’ comeback against the Blues and was a threat at scrum time.
3. Tetera Faulkner
Faulkner continued his consistent 2017 against the Sharks, packing down at tighthead. The Force pack has been one of Australia’s most solid this season and he is a major part of that.
4. Will Skelton
The Waratahs found themselves in a 26-0 hole at half-time on saturday and Will Skelton’s injection into the game was a big part in changing that. Skelton made 40 run metres, the most of any Waratahs forward and finally showed glimpses of the threat the Waratahs want him to be.
5. Dom Day
Welsh international Dominic Day has found his way with the Rebels after some injury troubles hampered his start to the year. The 31-year-old was a force in defence against the Lions.
6. Brynard Stander
Brynard Stander shook off injury troubles to be among the best for the Force in their clash with the Sharks. Stander ran for 69 metres, had 13 carries and a linebreak on a difficult day out.
7. Will Miller
When it comes to the step up between Shute Shield and Super Rugby, Will Miller has had no trouble breaching the gulf, in another stellar performance. Twelve tackles and three turnovers showed his impact in defence, again stepping up in the absence of Colby Faingaa (quad).
8. Amanaki Mafi
If it weren’t for Amanaki Mafi, the Rebels would be in an even bigger abyss than they find themselves in now. The Japan international had another influential performance at the back of the scrum, making 50 run metres, 10 tackles and causing three turnovers. Not bad at all.
9. James Tuttle
James Tuttle has battled hard after being thrown in the deep end this year, but he seems to have no trouble swimming. The 21-year-old was consistent again under immense pressure in New Plymouth.
10. Jono Lance
Jono Lance made the most of his return to the Force starting team on Saturday night, with an impressive stats sheet either side of the ball. He made 70 run metres and beat three defenders in Durban, also finishing with 12 tackles and a turnover.
11. James Verity-Amm
A debut Super Rugby try in Durban in just your second game? We’d take that any day. The youngster showed his X-factor against the Sharks and a glimpse of his long-term potential.
12. Bill Meakes
Bill Meakes’s abrasive style is winning him plenty of fans and he showed glimpses of that again against the Sharks, also helping set up Verity-Amm’s spectacular try.
13. Curtis Rona
His rugby stint might only last a year but Curtis Rona is making the most of whatever time he has at the Force. The outside back formed part of the Force’s promising backline, making 40 run metres and eight tackles and won two turnovers.
14. Marika Koroibete
Marika Koroibete says he has no regrets in his code switch, but it’s probably the Rebels who have more to thank him for than the other way around. The former NRL winger showed his progress in defence, especially, on Saturday. Made 48 run metres and finished with nine tackles, the equal-highest of any Rebels back, including a sensational try-saver.
15. Israel Folau
Israel Folau broke his try-scoring rut on Saturday night, collecting a double in the process. While he’s still not at his best, his finishing is the first step in getting back to the player he has been.