Round 13 Players in Focus

This weeks three fantasy players in focus are Highlanders’ backrower Luke Whitelock (84 points), The hat-trick scoring Hosea Saumaki (79 points) from the Sunwolves and the highest average fantasy player in 2018, Jean-Luc Du Preez (78 points).

Whitelock made his presence felt around the field, making an impact on almost all corners of the field. Not only did he bag himself a meat pie, but he ran in 17 runs for 104m, broke a pair of defenders, looked to offload at every opportunity and made 19 tackles! Having faced no mandatory All Black rest weeks this season, he is set to miss two weeks and I would assume them to be against the Waratahs and the Reds over the next two weeks.

Conversely, the ‘Tongan Godzilla’ Saumaki simply run rampant with ball in hand. The bulk of his points coming from 3 tries (30 points), 4 line breaks (20 points) and 93 run metres from 10 runs (19 points). Its good to see him returning to his earlier season form, albeit against the underwhelming Queensland Reds. As we said in the podcast… It is no longer pick up people playing the Sunwolves, rather anyone playing the Aussie teams.

J-L Du Preez scored his points in a similar vein to Whitelock. He too touched down for 1 try and managed to throw 5 offloads, which on this occasion uncharacteristically rarely hit his attended target. He ran well with ball in hand, made 11 tackles and continued to demonstrate his ability to swats defenders away at will, busting his season high of 10 tackles!

During his 8 appearances in 2018, J-L Du Preez has managed to bust 43 tackles and amass 24 effective offloads. There is seriously no way to stop this man other than hunt him in a pack, if you go high he will sit you on your ass, go low and he is throwing an offload. These skills combined with his high work-rate have seen JLDP leapfrogged Malcolm Marx, crowning him as the most valuable fantasy player to date in 2018.

In fact I honestly see the Du Preez brothers as the biggest powerhouse family in Super Rugby. Tough ask with the likes of the Saveas, Ioanes and Whitelocks running around… oh and how could I forget the Lucas boys.

Blues 15 – 36 Hurricanes
375 points – 542 points

The Hurricanes continues the Blues long succession of loses against Kiwi rivals with a dominant second half of the match.

After losing only 14-8 at oranges, the blues started to build pressure, making a number of line breaks before standout prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi (53 points) managed to convert their dominant ball possession into points. That however was the last time the boys from Auckland were to cross the line for points.

Nehe Milner- Skudder (49 points) demonstrates he still has the footwork that earned him an All Blacks’ call up a few years back. He slot through the line untouched and slipping through tackle on a number of occasions before earning himself his first 5 pointer for the year.

Poor discipline and defense in their own red zone proved costly for the home side letting in tries to a barnstorming Sam Lousi (61 points) and relatively underdone Matt Proctor (14 points) in the back end of the game.

The dominance of the Hurricanes’ forwards went a long way to them notching the win, with big performances from the likes of Ricky Riccitelli (66 points), Jeff Toomaga-Allen (42 points), Ardie Savea (44 points) and Gareth Evans (52 points).

Sonny Bill Williams (42 points) made a strong return for the Blues but it just wasn’t enough to keep them in the game.

Sunwolves 63 – 28 Reds
682 points – 412 points

A disappointing Queensland Reds side was put to the sword by a Sunwolves side who were firing on all cylinders. The moondogs were happy to make the visitors pay for ill-discipline with Hayden Parker (57 points) converting each attempted 7 penalty kicks from around the paddock. Laserboots Parker also knocked over  5 conversions from 5 attempts, note to other Super Rugby teams: Don’t give away penalties anywhere in your half against this bloke!

Grant Hattingh (52 points) and Kazuki “Bazooka” Himeno (46 points) led the forward pack with 9 runs and 3 tackle busts a piece. Continuing their rich vein of form that sees them as two of the most valuable locks in the game.

Michael Little (72 points) proved elusive with ball in hand yet again, making 6 tackle busts on his way to 117 run metres. I still don’t like his face, but it is hard to argue with his consistent performances this year. Something no one would have expected early on in the season, making him one of the finds of the season to date.

There were so many big performers for the Sunwolves that it was hard to find any average players among the bunch, however the same can’t be said for the Reds.

The only real standouts for the Queenslanders were; George Smith (39 points), who took it upon himself to make up the absence of Timu and Higginbotham by trucking the ball up on 17 occasions, and Filipo Daugunu (56 points) who ran 177 metres from 9 runs!

Crusaders 31 – 29 Waratahs
589 points – 359 points

This game was filled with contention and controversy, however i’m not here to review the performance of the referees… So lets just leave it at that.

The Crusaders demonstrated that they didn’t watch the Waratahs v Blues last week as they seemingly looked to attack the only positive aspect of the Tahs’ match the week before. Israel Folau’s (43 points) love of high balls no homo. Seriously, why do teams keep kicking it to him? He takes them as confidently as he takes baited questions on twitter.

The Waratahs came out firing in the first 30 minutes and actually held a 29 to nil lead before the Crusaders hit back with 3 quick tries just before the half.

The composure demonstrated by Sam Whitelock (9 points) during the half time talk demonstrated a belief in their structures and their ability to go out there and play footy. Daryl Gibson, on the other hand, was going red like he was about to drop a deuce that could well slot straight into any of the Waratahs tight 5 positions and look at home.

The Waratahs’ attempt to stay in the game was hampered by ill discipline resulting in a yellow card to both Nick Phipps (-8 points) and Taqele Naiyaravoro (30 points).

When Nick Phipps returned from the bin he exchanged urinating on bars, to his own teams chances at breaking the ‘Kiwi Hoodoo’ (as most Aussie journos call it). Honestly I think Australia’s best chance to beat a side from across the ditch is to give them Rob Simmons (5 points) and Phipps.

Richie Mo’unga (74 points) was on fire in the last 60 minutes, setting up 3 tries, offloading 5 times and creating 5 line breaks. He certainly didn’t show any signs that he has recently returned from almost 2 months on the sidelines due to a broken jaw.

George Bridge (62 points) made another statement to the All Blacks selectors, adding 7 tackle busts, 15 runs and 184 run metres to his name.

Highlanders 39 – 27 Lions
717 points – 600 points

The Highlanders intended to keep the ball alive throughout the match, throwing more than double the offloads (26-12) and putting the ball to boot almost twice as much (21-11) as their South African visitors.

The Fantasy Man Of The Match went to Luke Whitelock (84 points) who appeared to be everywhere on the paddock, making 19 tackles, a pilfer, a forced turnover and 17 runs for 104 metres. There is a lot of competition for the All Blacks’ number 8 position this season, however this performance couldn’t of done his chances any harm.

Tevita Li’s was missing from the highlanders but the rest of the team sure picked up the slack. His namesake Tevita Nabura along with Rob Thompson and Ben Smith all took home a clean half century of fantasy points, while Lima Sopoaga (56 points), Elliot Dixon (66 points) and Waisake Naholo (67 points) all destroyed their average points this season.

Marnus Schoeman (31 points) scored his 5th try in 4 matches, again from close quarters. He has a tough fight on his hands to stay relevant with the news that Captain Warren Whiteley could be back this weekend. My guess is we will likely see Franco Mostert (34 points) slot back into the lock, pushing Kwagga Smith (45 points) back to his preferred flanker spot, meaning Schoeman could well spend more time on the bench in coming rounds.

Robbie Coetzee (76 points) was the beneficiary of not only Malcolm Marx’s injury but the impressively powerful Lions’ rolling maul. All he had to do was hold on for the ride and he bagged a brace of tries.

Brumbies 24 – 27 Rebels
431 points – 483 points

The Brumbies yet again failed to impress, this time going down to a late Melbourne Rebels resurgence led by a Tom English (60 points) brace and a late positional shift for Reece Hodge (28 points).

Jack Maddox (45 points) found a gaping hole in the Brumbies’ defense in the 61st minute. A beautiful pass from Michael Ruru (17 points) set up Semisi Tupou (34 points) in the corner before Hodge stepped up to level the scores with his conversion and then again to kick a match winning penalty in the dying minutes.

Rob Valetini (43 points) finally got the chance to show the Super Rugby public what he is made of and he didn’t disappoint. He and his backrow partner Tom Cusack (57 points) stood out for the lackluster Brumbies, both bagging a try and working hard on and off the ball.

Marika Koroibete (42 points) looked to back to his energetic self, running on 10 occasions for 82 metres, whilst throwing 3 offloads. Amanaki Mafi (51 points) was his typical self, terrorizing the opposition defensive line with 5 tackle busts and 3 offloads from 17 runs.

Stormers 9 – 15 Chiefs
345 points – 463 points

The Chiefs handed the Stormers their first loss on home soil in 2018 with one of the lowest scoring matches of the year.

Damian McKenzie (38 points) offloaded four times and busted 3 tackles from his 9 runs, however he certainly didn’t set the world alight.

Solomon Alaimalo (46 points) looked dangerous on a number of occasions, picking up a beautiful DMac kick down field, before offloading to Anton Lienert-Brown (53 points) for the only true try of the match. The other coming from a penalty try due to a dominant Chiefs scrum.

The only mentionable players from the Stormers were Damian de Allende (48 points) who bumped off 4 defenders during his 10 runs and SP Marais (43 points) who managed a pair of offloads, 3 tackle busts and 158 run metres off 15 runs with ball in hand.

Not the most exciting game from a fantasy front.

Bulls 39 – 33 Sharks
558 points – 550 points

Now what the last game lacked in regards to excitement, this game made up for 10-fold.

The Bulls ran in 5 tries to 3, with Lodewyk de Jager (55 points), Ruan Smit (44 points), Johnny Kotze (41 points), Jesse Kriel (65 points) and Warrick Gelant (66 points) all getting their names on the score sheet.

Jesse Kriel has really hit his straps in recent weeks and not only did he bag a 5 pointer, but he set up another, ran 140 metres and looked solid with ball in hand.

Warrick Gelant scored a hat-trick on his last hit out against the Sharks, however he took him his fantasy coaches even more points on this occasion. He made a try assist, 4 tackle busts, 2 offloads and 4 line break creates. At the ripe ole age of 22 (until Sunday), if Gelant can add consistency to his repertoire, he could well have a long future in the Boks jersey.

A man who didn’t manage to cross the chalk but still managed to impress was RG Snyman (43 points). The stat alone of him throwing 6 offloads as a lock deserves a shout out…

From the Sharks, it was the Du Preez twins that really stole the show. Jean-Luc was on fire yet again and for the second week running he was joined by his brother Daniel in a solid outing.

Daniel Du Preez (51 points) broke the line on 2 occasions, ran the ball 14 times for 78 metres, offloaded twice and busted 3 tackles. I mean they aren’t Jean-Luc numbers, but they aren’t to shabby either. If the third brother Bobby du Preez (30 points) managed to fire, we may have well being talking about an away win for the Sharks.

Last Thoughts

I threw in the team fantasy points this week just for interests sake. What can we learn from them?

  1. The less exciting the match, the less fantasy points
  2. If you win the battle in the stats, it appears you are a good crack at winning the match
  3. Pick players against the blokes wearing red (Reds and Lions).

Written by Nelson Dale
Stay fancy.

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