The prop who thinks he's a fullback: Super Rugby AU team of the week

Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

Well, that was fun.

Two teams going hammer and tong and putting on a show in the Super Rugby AU qualifying final, with the Queensland Reds prevailing 25-13 over the Melbourne Rebels.

The intensity. The skill. The Rebels' tactics of using the ball early. That Jordan Petaia intercept. Injuries. Lots of them too. Tate McDermott's linebreak. Blown tries. Fists hitting the ground. Frustration. Anger. Heartbreak. Taniela Tupou running like a fullback on the inside of heavy traffic.

The qualifying final had plenty to crow about. Even Malcolm Knox, if you would believe it, enjoyed the match. 

But who stood out?

Here's our team of the week.

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1. Cameron Orr - Rebels

Early on the Rebels' scrum was causing the Reds some headaches and Orr, packing down against Tupou, was at the forefront of that effort.

2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa - Reds

It was only a week ago that Brad Thorn said his hooker was putting his name up in lights for Australia's selectors and as fate should happen that's exactly what's happened.

The Reds' choir-boy warmed up his vocal chords on Saturday ahead of his Wallabies call-up on Sunday.

Paenga-Amosa was excellent in tight, making 14 tackles and also taking the ball forward six times for 27 run metres.

But it was his lineout throw - the area of his game with the most work to do - that helped the Reds win.

 

3: Taniela Tupou - Reds

Seriously, what tight-head prop can make a linebreak like his in the 75th minute?

This man has one of the biggest engines in Australian rugby. He's an 80 minute player packing down in the scrum.

While the scrum started slowly for the Reds it warmed up nicely and got the better of the Rebels pack.

4. Angus Blyth - Reds

Matt Philip was good, so too Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, but I've picked players in their preferred position this week and Blyth shaves the Rebels' second-rower.

Blyth's smiling assassin ways continued on Saturday.

He might not have been selected for the Wallabies, but this man will only continue to get better as he grows into his body.

5. Trevor Hosea - Rebels

This was Hosea's best match for the Rebels.

There was one period where Hosea carried the ball three times in half-a-dozen phases.

He carried the ball forward more than any other tight-five forward (9) and made six clean tackles.

At the lineout Hosea was excellent too.

6. Brad Wilkin - Rebels 

Called up into the starting side, Wilkin was one of the Rebels' best. 

Did anyone see his involvement in the lead up to Marika Koroibete's opening try?

It's worth another watch.

Good on the ball, Wilkin also made 46 metres with 31 of those post-contact.

7. Fraser McReight - Reds

Richard Hardwick was excellent on the ball and finished the season in fine form, but McReight edged his counterpart for his complete game.

46 run metres, 29 post-contact metres, 10 tackles and an on-ball penalty.

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8. Isi Naisarani - Rebels 

It says something to leave our Harry Wilson, but Naisarani was very good for the Rebels and nearly made 100 run metres and made nine tackles too.

On Wilson, his game has developed in 2020. He might not have made as many linebreaks and bent the line as much, but oppositions are focusing on him and Wilson's been asked to carry harder through the middle too.

9. Tate McDermott - Reds

He might have made one or two dodgy passes, one near his goal-line too, and his reluctance to use the box-kick placed the Reds under some pressure, but McDermott's spark continues to shine.

In the lead up to Salakaia-Loto's try, it was the No.9 bouncing out at halfback which opened some space out wide.

His linebreak in the second-half was reminiscent of Will Genia's nine years earlier too.

10. James O'Connor - Reds

Composed and assured.

In a side stacked with youth and exuberance, O'Connor is in many ways the glue and old head keeping the Reds together.

He's not overplaying his hand and continually making the right options.

O'Connor took the ball to the line five times, made a linebreak and created one too.

11. Filipo Daugunu - Reds

The Reds' best on Saturday night, Daugunu was excellent on both sides of the ball.

On Saturday, Daugunu showed he's the inform winger in Australian rugby, making two on-ball penalties, scoring a try and making a game-high 152 run metres with ball in-hand.

12. Hamish Stewart - Reds

Stewart is one of the Reds' unheralded stars.

He's no world beater, but what you get from Stewart is a midfielder who will make his tackles - a game high 15 in fact - and act as a second playmaker who regularly makes the right decision.

Is he a Test 12?

Probably not. He's not the quickest, biggest or a 90 per cent goal kicker, but he's solid and dependable and that's what the Reds need when they've got threats inside and outside in Jordan Petaia and co.

13. Hunter Paisami - Reds

It's a shame Petaia was forced from the field at the half-hour mark because at that time he was on the best on the field.

His try set the tone for the Reds and came up with another couple of big plays.

But his head knock allowed Paisami to enter the fray and the Wallabies squad member was brilliant once coming on.

He set up the Reds' second try early in the second half and even the Reds' third try, Paisami got over the gain line in the lead up to allow the Reds the quick ball that Tupou used so well.

 

14. Marika Koroibete - Rebels 

We've had to switch Koroibete to the right-wing because it was impossible to leave him out.

Koroibete was the only other player to make more than 100 run metres.

He scored the Reds' first try with some great heads up rugby and he should have had a second had Billy Meakes' pass not drifted forward.

15. Jock Campbell - Reds

Campbell edged out Dane Haylett-Petty after the Rebels captain was forced from the field early in the second half.

Both fullbacks played well and while Campbell didn't quite have the same impact as a week earlier, he was solid and once again floated across the field like a butterfly.