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Team of the Week: Looking at the best Australian performers from Super Rugby Pacific Round Eight

Mon, 11/04/2022, 3:15 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Drua hosted the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium.

With the Reds and Waratahs on a bye, there were several players that took the opportunity to shine during round eight of Super Rugby Pacific.

The Western Force and Melbourne Rebels went down to the wire, with the Rebels finding a way to close out the one-point victory as they continue a mid-season revival.

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Meanwhile, the understrength Brumbies thrived at Suncorp Stadium, comfortably defeating the Drua.

With this in mind, Rugby.com.au has selected the best from the Australian sides for round eight.

1.James Slipper

A typical solid performance from Slipper, celebrating his 150th game in style.

Slipper dominated opposite number Samuela Tawake at scrum-time, earning a number of penalties whilst defending his heart out, helping the Brumbies secure the victory.

He just did enough to hold off Matt Gibbon, who was integral to the Rebels' dominance at scrum time.

2. Billy Pollard

Pollard continues to impress in a stacked hooker unit, relishing the rare chance to start.

The former Junior Wallaby showed off the remarkable explosiveness for a front-row, troubling the Drua with every touch of the ball.

He was rewarded with a try at the back of the rolling maul, just edging out Jordan Uelese in this team.

3. Cabous Eloff

Eloff is a cult hero in Melbourne, with efforts like Friday's only cementing his status.

The South African powered the Rebels home with a brutal display of scrummaging across the 80-minute performance, earning crucial penalties late to seal the victory.

4. Matt Philip

Philip cemented his position as one of - if not - the premier lock in the country with an inspirational showing.

He led the team in carries (eight) and offloads (two), as well as proving rock-solid in defence to power his team home.

This coupled with a crucial line out steal on his goal-line saw him just out-perform the ever-reliable Fergus Lee-Warner.

5. Tom Hooper

What is it about the name Hooper and delivering elite-effort performances?

The lock was everywhere in defence, recording a round-high 21 tackles to go with nine carries and two tackle busts.

Hooper joins a growing list of young Brumbies putting pressure on established stars, leaving the club in good hands for the future.

6. Brad Wilkin

Wilkin willed home the Rebels to the narrow victory, proving lethal in attack.

He broke the Force open with a nice line break, continually putting the visitors on the front foot.

Along with this, he proved reliable in defence, making some key tackles to shut down their attack.

7. Kane Koteka

Koteka continues to shine after returning from injury.

The flanker’s work rate was elite across the near 80-minute performance, leading the contest for tackles (16).

This put him slightly ahead of his opposite number Richard Hardwick and Luke Reimer, who were both solid in winning efforts.

8. Rob Valetini

Valetini relished the return to his favoured number eight position, powering the visitors to victory.

His defensive rate was incredible, making 15 tackles, whilst his ability to draw defenders into each carry opened the game up for the Brumbies.

The 23-year-old has entered 2022 with a newfound level of elite consistency, delivering week-on-week wherever they opt to play him.

9. Nic White

The Wallabies’ delivery and passing remain one of the best in the country, setting up the Brumbies’ backline with perfect passes.

White’s game management and awareness are elite, producing quick ball that had the visitors constantly on the attack.

He also showed off the goal-kicking prowess, slotting two nice conversions.

10. Matt To’omua

This was by far To’omua’s best game this season, responding to his Wallabies omission in style.

Outside of the controversial yellow card, To’omua was excellent, setting up the attack as he found Uelese with a great offload in the opening minutes.

This along with a near-perfect night with the boot allowed the Rebels to build early scoreboard pressure and ultimately come away with the win.

11.Andy Muirhead

Muirhead proved unstoppable against the Drua as he toyed with the defence.

He floated across the backline and looked dangerous with every touch, producing two line breaks and three tackle busts from a game-high 12 carries and 92 metres.

The winger even showed off the playmaking abilities, throwing a picture-perfect cutout for Cam Clark to cross in the corner.

12. Bayley Kuenzle

Kuenzle has found his feet in this Force backline, delivering one of his best games at Super Rugby level.

He broke the Rebels' defensive line at will, constantly getting the ball over the advantage line as he recorded two line breaks and four tackle busts.

13. Kyle Godwin

Godwin joins his centres partner after a classic captain's showing for the Force.

He played an integral role in their attack, setting up one of two tries to Lacey with some nice hands to put him over in the corner.

The former Wallaby was rewarded with one of his own as he won the race to Jake Strachan’s chip kick, putting the comeback into motion.

14.Brad Lacey

Lacey took advantage of the late call-up with a stunning display for the Force.

The 28-year-old produced a great pass to set up Mataele before crossing for a try of his own.

He also finished with a game-high six tackle busts and two line breaks, giving Tim Sampson a major headache at selection time ahead of next week’s clash with the Waratahs as Toni Palu prepares to return.

15. Tom Wright

Wright embraced the opportunity to fill in at the back, seamlessly slotting in for Jesse Mogg and Tom Banks.

He is the latest in a line of wingers who have relished the chance to work the middle of the field, crossing for a double to seal the bonus-point victory.

Wright’s strong showing was just enough to earn selection over Reece Hodge and Jake Strachan.

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