It was a good weekend to be an Australian rugby fan, which sounds strange considering the Waratahs were the only team to emerge with a win.
While the Reds and Brumbies both fell short of upset wins, they were far from disgraced.
Queensland were never out of the match against the red hot Hurricanes in Wellington and the Brumbies played some brilliant rugby prior to Rory Arnold’s red card, which derailed their chance of victory against the Lions.
For the first time in a while there were several players unlucky to miss out in this team but here’s who stood out from the chasing pack.
1. Tom Robertson – Waratahs
It’s rare that a prop catches the eye of the average fan but Robertson did exactly that on Saturday, earning the crowd vote at Allianz Stadium.
He has been in fine form for the past couple of months and is starting to put his hand up for more carries, adding an extra layer to his game.
2. Damien Fitzpatrick – Waratahs
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Fitzpatrick has made the starting job his own this season and with performances like this, it’s easy to see why.
He is squeezing through holes with ball in hand, hitting his targets at lineout time and churning through work in defence.
3. Taniela Tupou – Reds
Scrummaged himself to a standstill, proved a force with ball in hand and set up Jordan Petaia’s first Super Rugby try with a spectacular run down the sideline.
Tupou has had a brilliant season so far and one would think he is now the frontrunner for the tighthead spot when Ireland arrive in June.
4. Tom Staniforth – Waratahs
A team of the week debut for Staniforth, who was a critical piece in the Waratahs engine room on Saturday.
Staniforth put his hand up for 11 carries, made eight tackles and added some defensive breakdown work to his game, too.
5. Kane Douglas – Reds
Another stellar performance for Douglas, who has made the most of an injury riddled for Lukhan Tui.
Douglas repeatedly led the Queensland line speed – which was left wanting against the Sunwolves – and made a big impact with his 13 tackles.
6. Angus Scott-Young – Reds
Scott-Young is following Douglas’ lead, establishing himself as a defensive workhorse in the heart of the Queensland pack.
A team high 19 tackles complimented by five carries for 21 metres made for a strong performance at blindside flanker.
7. George Smith – Reds
Smith was at his best on Friday, having warmed into his work upon return from a back injury.
A master of the “dark arts” discussed in detail last week, Smith amassed 14 tackles and put his hand up for five carries in a masterful performance.
8. Scott Higginbotham – Reds
Having played just 110 minutes prior to Friday night, Higginbotham was primed to fire against the Canes and delivered.
The Reds skipper made nine runs for 36 metres, nine tackles and like Smith, played an influential hand at the breakdown.
9. Joe Powell – Brumbies
Alongside Christian Lealiifano, Powell had the Brumbies attack humming against the Lions.
It was the best ACT’s attack has looked all year and Powell was a big part of that, keeping the ball quick and clean.
10. Bernard Foley – Waratahs
The numbers said it all in a brilliant performance from Foley.
The radar was on song as he notched 11 points off the tee to go with 11 runs for 99 metres, five tackle busts, four line breaks and two try assists.
11. Taqele Naiyaravoro – Waratahs
Naiyaravoro’s superb season continued on Saturday, as he nabbed another double and proved a constant headache for the Highlanders.
A performance which featured 11 runs, 47 metres, five tackle busts, two line breaks and four offloads made for another big night out.
12. Kurtley Beale – Waratahs
Beale’s combination with Foley is tried and tested and he added 12 runs, 59 metres, two tackle busts and a try assist to the Tahs’ drought breaking night.
13. Curtis Rona – Waratahs
Rona has quietly been a quality player for NSW all season long and his performance on Saturday was testament to that.
A try was just rewards for a performance which featured 14 runs for 51 metres, four tackle busts, four line breaks, two offloads and two try assists.
14. Cam Clark – Waratahs
Clark has taken the chance to start with both hands, popping up with constant lines in support and making critical tackles when required.
15. Israel Folau – Waratahs
Another week, another prolific performance from Folau, who is in scintillating form.
A well deserved double rounded out a night in which he made 13 runs for 78 metres, five tackle busts and four line breaks.