ROUND 3 of Super Rugby loomed as a week that would present a number of answers for this years competition. Could the full strength Blues be title contenders? Could the Reds gel enough to gain their first win over the Crusaders since the 2011 Grand Final? Have the Lions learnt from their mistake of playing a ‘B side’ against the Jaguares in the final round of 2016, losing them a home Final?
Tana Umaga named a strong Blues lineup, bring his All Blacks from the bench back into the starting lineup to take on the injury ravaged Highlanders. The absence of Shane Christie, Josh Dickson, Ash Dixon, James Lentjes, Hayden Parker, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Dan Pryor, Ben Smith, Adrian Smith, Liam Squire and Jason Emery didn’t phase the boys from Otago as they earned themselves their first ‘W’ of the season.
The Reds looked to be firing early, gaining a 17-0 lead after only 24 minutes and all signs were pointing to a new era for Queensland rugby, before the Crusaders did what the Crusaders do. For their second week in a row the Kiwis snagged a last gasp win with Mitchell Hunt kicking home a 22-20 win at the buzzer.
The Lions again brought a weakened side to take on an improved looking Jaguares side and yet again they were made to pay, with the Argentines running out a 12 point victory for the second year in a row.
The injury crisis for New Zealand has worsened with the like of All Blacks Nehe Milner Skudder, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo, Israel Dagg and Seta Tamanivalu all recieving injuries last week.
The longevity of absence for some of these players is uncertain, however non are likely to be playing this coming weekend.
On the Fantasy front there were a few diamonds in the rough, such as; Ramiro Moyano, young-gun Curwin Bosch from the bench for the Sharks, Whetu Douglas, Clinton Swart and Kenki Fukuoka who all scored 47 or more and could have all been picked up for less than 120K on Fox Sports Fantasy in recent weeks.
Some blue chip players, such as Samu Kerevi (54 points), Israel Folau (47 points) and Warren Whiteley (46 points) continued to show their worth, while a number of others failed to fulfil to hit the mark.
Things to take out of round 3:
-Injuries hurt Fantasy Draft coaches too Injuries have continues to devastate many Super Rugby Squads, with a large number of All Blacks falling in the last few weeks. To get an up to date injury list, have a read of the Casualty Ward.
-The Lions are stalking With the Lions tour looming, it is likely that we will continue to see All Blacks stars on the bench for larger than normal periods of time. To throw a spanner in the works, there is also this little matter of injuries. Who will be shaping up for higher honours in place of the injured stars and will the selectors want to see as much of these players as possible, saving them from increased time on the bench?
-Wet weather takes the flare away from the Kiwis The conditions didn’t only reduce the games excitement between Hurricanes and Chiefs, the rain fizzled out the Fantasy points on offer. The usual suspects of Laumape, Aso, Ardie Savea and Lowe likely scored less combined points this week than they have individually in the previous rounds, while the highest score was a measly 38 points by McKenzie…
That’s less than Niell Jordaan from the Cheetahs. Who? Exactly!
Team Of The Week (TOTW)
- Frans Malherbe (STO) – 32 points – 8 runs for 37 metres, 1 offload, 1 tackles and 1 tight head won
- Oli Kebble (STO) – 31 points – 8 runs for 52 metres, 1 tackle bust, 1 linebreak create, 4 tackles and 1 tight head won
- Torsten van Jaarsveld (CHE) – 78 points – 1 try, 6 runs for 56 metres, 2 tackle busts, 3 linebreaks, 11 tackles and 14 lineout takes
- Liaki Moli (SUN) – 55 points – 1 try assist, 13 runs for 64 metres, 1 tackle bust, 1 offload, 1 linebreak create, 18 tackles, 1/1 lineout take and 1 lineout steal
- Pieter-Steph du Toit (STO) – 46 points & 2nd TOTW – 10 runs for 84 metres, 3 tackle busts, 2 offloads, 1 linebreak, 7 tackles and 5/5 lineout takes
- Oupa Mohojé (CHE) – 68 points – 1 try, 12 runs for 79 metres, 4 tackle busts, 1 offload, 2 linebreaks, 1 linebreak create, 11 tackles and 5 lineout takes
- Warren Whiteley (LIO) – 60 points & 2nd TOTW – 2 tries, 3 runs for 32 metres, 2 tackle busts, 2 linebreaks and 17 tackles
- Pablo Matera (JAG) – 56 points – 15 runs for 94 metres, 6 tackle busts, 2 offloads, 1 linebreak create, 10 tackles and 1 pilfer
- Lionel Cronje (KIN) – 50 points – 1 try assist, 1/1 conversion, 1/1 penalty kick, 10 runs for 76 metres, 4 tackle busts, 4 offloads, 1 ineffective offload, 1 linebreak create and 7 tackles
- Fred Zeilinga (CHE) – 66 points & 2nd TOTW – 3/4 conversion, 4/4 penalty goal, 8 runs for 73 metres, 5 tackle busts, 2 offload, 1 linebreak, 2 linebreak creates and 9 tackles
- Samu Kerevi (RED) – 60 points – 1 try, 1 try assist, 12 runs for 110 metres, 4 tackle busts, 1 offloads and 2 linebreaks
- Daniel du Plessis (STO) – 57 points – 12 runs for 93 metres, 4 tackle busts, 3 offloads and 2 linebreaks
- Israel Folau (WAR) – 76 points – 2 tries, 14 runs for 126 metres, 3 tackle busts, 3 offloads, 2 linebreaks and 1 linebreak create
- Ramiro Moyano (JAG) – 74 points – 1 try, 12 runs for 147 metres, 9 tackle busts, 1 offload, 2 linebreaks and 1 linebreak create
- Kenki Fukuoka (SUN) – 68 points – 2 tries, 8 runs for 77 metres, 5 tackle busts, 1 offload, 3 linebreaks and 1 pilfer
“Sometime in life, you just need to give the ball to Kerevi!” – Fantasy Guru Nelson Dale
Written by Nelson Dale