So the Eagles sit atop the ladder now as the only undefeated team, despite a valiant effort by the Fardy-led Rays. The Vikings have successfully defended their first challenge of the Horan Little Shield. The Perth Spirit made a stunning statement out west and the Queensland teams continue to bumble along.
I must say this was one of the toughest TOTW’s to pick this season. I will say it up front – in a backline dominated by Spirit players, 3 try hero Luke Morahan does not get a call-up. So on to the team!
While the NRC provides opportunities for young players to step up to the grade, it also provides opportunities for the more experienced players. Ryan has taken on the captaincy of the Eagles, which he has done superbly, and also developed a handy off-load game providing a new dimension to his game.
Latu was at his physical best again on the weekend and while he spent time in the sin bin he all roun game was a standout. Another candidate for the back-up Wallaby hooker role, Andrew Ready, was also strong v the Rising.
For the 2nd week in a row the big fellah, Lolohea, finds his way into the Team of the Week. On the back of a dominant scrumming performance, Lolohea also gets his massive body around the park impressively. Young Spirit prop Shambeckler Vui continues to catch the eye with busy performances.
The Brumbies lock stood up big time in conditions made for forwards. Enever worked hard in a solid 80 minute performance with a number of crucial lineout wins. His opposite number, Senio Toleafoa, had plenty of positive involvements as well.
Tui has been one of Brisbane’s best all season which is not bad for the 20 year old (happy birthday Lukhan). Was again extremely effective on each side of the ball and produced a memorable 40m run to set up a try for his team.
There was plenty of talent wearing the 6 jersey this round with Ross Haylett-Petty, Sam Figg and Scott Fardy all very impressive however Jordy tops them this week. Reid was an all over the park in Melbourne on the weekend including a beautifully timed run to set up his team’s first try.
It would have been odd for Miller to take the field for the Rays against the Eagles, a team he was such an important part of for the last two years. But the captaincy of Norths kept him loyal to his coach and the Rays and he was one of his team’s standouts against the Eagles, and the always impressive Rowan Perry, on Saturday.
It was a big match for the Local boy and he was at his robust best, solid in defense and giving the Eagles an excellent platform with some impressive carries. The big man, Isi Naisarani, was full of running for Brisbane City and added another two tries to his season tally.
Former Brumby and Waratahs, and Eagles CEO, called it early by stating that Gordon must go on the Wallaby end of year tour. He’s reiterated it by suggesting he’s our best halfback since Catchpole (assume he means Ken, not Mark). He showed plenty of evidence of this on the weekend. Scott Gale‘s kicking game was on-point for the Rams as well.
We saw the full gamut of Lance’s abilities on the weekend igniting his backline by taking the ball to the line and distributing, kicking sublimely and being rock solid in defense including pulling off one of the hits of the season. One of the surprise packets of this NRC has been Ben Meehan at flyhalf for the Rising where he again showed his ability to control the game and make effective match decisions.
Brache was returning from injury for his first NRC game of the season and would surely loved the opportunities he received in this match. Strong in defense, as he usually is, he enjoyed getting his hands on the ball including a try running onto a delightful inside ball from Lance. QLD Country’s Tyrone Lefau again proved a handful whenever he got his hands on the ball.
Benny Taps came on early for the Spirit, for the injured Billy Meakes and seemed to be the catalyst for the destruction that was to follow. His game smarts and strong running was on show for all and he was involved intimately with many of the Spirit’s many tries.
This guy is the goods. It really is incredible his ability to beat a tackle and get over the advantage line as regularly as he does. Was absolutely brilliant in an out-classed QLD Country side and pulled off one of the hits of the season on former Wallaby Ben Tapuai. Apolosi Latunipulu was very strong for the Rams and gave the Vikings defense plenty of headaches.
14. Eric Vasukicakau (Perth Spirit) – 1
The Flying Fijian finally got to stretch his legs on the flank for the Force feeder team yesterday. Alliteration aside, Eric V enjoyed the space his inside backs (and the QLD Country defense) were providing him out wide. He looks a wonderful talent and would have got a great deal of confidence out of that performance.
15. Jack Debreczeni (Melbourne Rising) – 1
The controversial decision is Jack D over Morahan. While it is always hard to look past a hat trick scorer, I feel Debreczeni was more involved in securing his team’s win. The converted flyhalf was heavily involved in a lot of the creative play that resulted in the Rising going out to a big lead in the first half. In particular, his kicking was very important to the Rising and he scored a crucial try. Great to see his talents haven’t abandoned him.