Round Two of Super Rugby, 2011-style, saw two more local derbies for the Aussie teams. The first was an emotional last-minute win by the Rebels over the Brumbies, while the second was a clinical takedown of the Reds by the increasingly impressive Waratahs. So, on to the whos, whats and whys of the round….
Team of the Round:
15 Mark Gerrard – REBELS
14 Drew Mitchell – WARATAHS
13 Rob Horne – WARATAHS
12 Julian Huxley – REBELS
11 Digby Ioane – REDS
10 Berrick Barnes – WARATAHS
9 Luke Burgess – WARATAHS
8 Ita Vaea – BRUMBIES
7 Phil Waugh – WARATAHS
6 Dave Dennis – WARATAHS
5 Kane Douglas – WARATAHS
4 Rob Simmons – REDS
3 Al Baxter – WARATAHS
2 Tatafu Polota-Nau – WARATAHS
1 Sekope Kepu – WARATAHS
I think the presence ten Waratahs in the XV provides a suitable testimony to their performance on the weekend. Only two for the Rebels may be harsh on them, but their lineup is filled with foreigners not available for Wallaby selection – otherwise the likes of Danny Cipriani, Michael Lipman, Gareth Delve, Greg Somerville and Ged Robinson would have been strong candidates.
How about the two Reds? Am I being biased? Digby was the only Red to make any consistent territory versus the Tahs while, at the same time, I don’t think the other wingers stuck their hands up to be counted. Lachie Mitchell is showing some glimpses of form at the Rebels, and Cooper Vuna is getting better. Still, I think Digby was the best option. Perhaps an argument could be made for Adam Byrne’s selection ahead of Simmons – he certainly provided his typical aggressive presence around the field. Unfortunately, that resulted in his typical number of penalties conceded.
For the Brumbies, Stephen Moore, Matt Giteau and Pat McCabe were all unlucky to miss out. At hooker we just couldn’t go past the thunder that is Taf. What an impact he had on that game, and unfortunately his own health. Barnes edges Gits because of his greater impact in all aspects of the game, with Berrick really leading the way in defence.
But how do you pick between Mark Gerrard and Pat McCabe? That was a fantastic display by the two fullbacks, the pair playing different styles of rugby: McCabe basically ran everything he got, while Gerrardo kicked most of his possession. In the end, though, I feel that Mark’s impact on the match just had a greater impact on the result than Knick Knack Patty McCabe’s.
Player of the Round:
Once again, the forum has spoken and come up with the four leading candidates for the Player of the Round. For the Rebels, he kicked the winning goal and showed that some of the hype was accurate – Danny Cipriani. While missing a few tackles, Cips successfully succeeded in guiding his team across the park either by way of his foot or by ball in hand. A wonderfully balanced player. Let’s hope his form can be maintained because he’s one of those players who is just a delight to watch.
On the receiving end of a number of those Cipriani kicks was Brumbies fullback, Pat McCabe. This man just never stopped running, no matter how often (or hard) he was hit. Scored an early try, and then just kept on trucking. There wasn’t a great deal of finesse to his game, but boy was it effective. Similarly, for the Reds, Digby Ioane ran hard all night. The Tahs proved just a tad harder to break than the Rebels, but Diggers’s enthusiasm never waned.
Something else that never waned was Tatafu Polota-Nau‘s 100 per cent commitment to the Tahs, as he demolished Red after Red, and finally himself. It was an incredible display of power rugby, with plenty of deft skill thrown in, by the high-haired one, with self-preservation at the bottom of his list of concerns. Didn’t last an hour on the field, but did enough in that time to deliver two matches’ worth of ‘game-breakers’.
Try of the Round:
For the significance of it, it was hard to go past Sir Stirling Mortlock’s five-pointer against his old team, the Brumbies. It was not without skill, particularly the delicious pass served up by Julian Huxley to a flying Cooper Vuna. But for mine, the try of the round was David Dennis’s sneaky little number against the Reds. From a skill perspective, it’s trickery of the highest order. The Reds fans were raving about the Saia Faingaa–Scott Higginbotham interchange versus the Force; well, this bit of byplay between Taf and Daisy Dennis was like “Schindler’s List” compared to “Dude, Where’s My Car?”.
Watch as Dave casually strolls to number one in the line-out, the Reds clearly thinking him to be out of play and focussing on Douglas at two. But he’s not, and Saia, Ben Daley and Sanchez are all left looking on forlornly has DD streaks away for the try. Add the fact it was scored in the last ten minutes of the half, and the try constituted a real body blow.
Moment of the Round:
While there were countless highlights for Tahs fans in their team’s deconstruction of the Reds on Saturday night, the real moment of the round came a day earlier. How can it not be Danny Cipriani’s last minute penalty kick (admittedly from the dodgiest of dodgy decisions) to give the Rebels their first Super win? Words can’t really convey what this kick meant to the Rebels. Thankfully, we have this YouTube clip: