We are edging closer to Finals of Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU after Round Seven on the weekend.
The Brumbies hung on against a much-improved Waratahs outfit while the Reds were too strong for the Rebels in Melbourne.
But who stood out and made our Team of the Week?
1. Angus Bell
Highly regarded but has had a tough year in 2021, mixed with injury in a battling Tahs pack. But these NSW forwards have great potential and the more we see of big Belly in open spaces, the better the Waratahs will be.
2. Folau Fainga’a
Fainga’a was a notable omission from the Wallabies camp squad last weekend, and Folau obviously wanted to make a statement on Friday night at the SCG. Has Lachlan Lonergan breathing down his neck at the Brumbies, and that competition will benefit both of them. Don’t forget Connal McInerney who is sidelined with injury too.
3. Taniela Tupou
A freak of nature. Two tries. One failed swan dive. Absolute box office.
4. Cadeyrn Neville
Partnered with Trevor Hosea in our Team of the Week yet again. Could this be a sign of things to come in Wallabies season? Neville throws himself into everything but always maintains his awareness for the game around him. No better example than when the Tahs stood off the Brumbies maul. Cadeyrn knew exactly what was going on and took advantage.
5. Trevor Hosea
Check the big man’s hands for Michael Wells try in the second half. Delicious. Mark him down for a Wallabies debut in 2021. Sureeeely.
6. Angus Scott-Young
Cap 51 for Angus Scott-Young and another 80-minute shift for the big flanker. Gets through a mountain of work and seems to love throwing his head in those dark places. Long overdue a mention in our Team of the Week.
7. Fraser McReight
It’s like we’ve turned back the clock 10 years and watching a young Michael Hooper run around in first couple of years in Super Rugby. McReight is an animal. An energizer bunny that could go for days. Pushes the boundaries at the breakdown (he got away with one as his hands went down past the ruck) but his defensive work is complemented by his link play and deft hands in attack. Wallabies number seven jersey beckoning in 2021?
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8. Michael Wells
Speaking of speed – how about the legs on Michael Wells? Deceptively quick for a big man! Just ask Reds winger Jock Campbell who had the break on Wells after an intercept but was dragged down metres short of the tryline. Then the number 8 showed it off in attack after finishing a brilliant Rebels team try (see Hosea’s hands mentioned above!).
9. Jake Gordon
He may have been a key missing link for the Waratahs. They looked a different team in Round Seven and it wasn’t hard to cast the mind back to Round One before Gordon was forced from the field at Suncorp and remember how influential he was on opening night. A commanding presence who lifts the performance of teammates around him.
10. Will Harrison
This will be a contentious one, especially after the great performance of James O’Connor at AAMI Park but we want to make it clear – it’s not a sympathy vote for the missed kick after the siren. Harrison just looked more assured with Jake Gordon inside him and was alive to every play. Clear how much his team value their rising number 10. A performance to build on.
11. Frank Lomani
Played on the right wing but had to squeeze in Frank Lomani and Tom Wright. Lomani was simply brilliant at AAMI Park and the Reds seemed nervous every time he had the ball in hand. Fizzed onto a Matt To’omua short ball for the Rebels opening try then spectacularly set up Reece Hodge for his try. Scintillating footwork off the scrum play that had McDermott at sixes and sevens.
12. Hamish Stewart
An unheralded rock in this Reds team. They seem a more cohesive defensive unit with Stewart in the backline and that may be what allows Hunter Paisami the freedom to express and risk the intercept. That’s purely speculation of course but there’s no understating Stewart’s impact. Some keen eyes also spotted his work for Fraser McReight’s try when Hamish slowed his support line as Jock Campbell was dragged down, then reset and threw himself into the ruck to secure the attacking ball. Gilbert pops up, McDermott shifts right and McReight has the easiest of five pointers.
13. Hunter Paisami
Hunter is having a year. Took just a few moments to stamp his authority on the game with a brilliant 80 metre intercept try. It was an all-or-nothing play but everything is coming up Milhouse for Paisami in 2021. Question is now whether he’s a Wallaby 12 or 13.
14. Tom Wright
Footy is an easy game for some and Tom Wright just has that swagger. First game of the season but didn’t miss a beat. Just missed out on a sensational try as his foot touched the paint while grounding in-goal. A genuine gamebreaker who had no right to score his try when he received the ball 10-15 metres from the tryline and pegged right up against the sideline.
15. Tom Banks
We’re used to seeing these performances at Super level now. Banksy just has out-and-out gas, and the ability to beat a first-up defender. Turned out he beat 9 defenders on Friday night against the Tahs, on his way to three linebreaks. More please!