Team of the Week
Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we thought it was only right to hand out praise to the stars of Super Rugby, Round 19.
Without further ado, here comes our offering - be sure to send in your own 15-1 team selections.
15 Israel Dagg (Crusaders) - Played his best game for a long while in the red and black. It was an all-action display from the full-back as plenty of metres were racked up to go with line-breaks and a second-half try. Dagg, like the Crusaders, are hitting top form at just the right time.
14 Julian Savea (Hurricanes) - Harsh to snub Kade Poki after that superb finish against Savea's Hurricanes, but we just could not leave out the rampaging All Black wing. Competing with Hosea Gear for the international 11 shirt, it was tit for tat between the duo in Wellington on Saturday.
13 Conrad Smith (Hurricanes) - Mr Consistent was everywhere again for his team. He made a whopping 101 metres in that epic 44-49 defeat, with his new-look centre combination with Reynold Lee-Lo coming along nicely. Mentions for other thirteens JJ Engelbrecht, Johan Sadie and Ryan Crotty.
12 Robert Ebersohn (Cheetahs) - The Cheetahs centre was a real handful for the Blues defence, crossing the gainline on nine occasions. What Ebersohn lacks as a physical threat he more than makes up for with his distribution skills, with his midfield partner Sadie the main beneficiary.
11 Hossa Gear (Highlanders) - Gear in full flow is a delight to watch as he glides across the turf, which he did a great deal at Westpac Stadium on Friday. Five defenders beaten en route to 116 metres put on the tank, Gear and Savea's rivalry must be pleasant viewing for Steve Hansen.
10 Colin Slade (Highlanders) - His future with the Highlanders remains uncertain beyond the end of the current season, but Slade highlighted why he has featured in an All Black jersey in the past with an assured performance on Saturday. Combining well with Aaron Smith and providing an assist for a try, he also put in a surprisingly high tackle count of 13. His opposite man, Beauden Barrett, contributed just one and missed three.
9 Jano Vermaak (Bulls) - This guy just doesn't stop scoring! Vermaak only played 26 minutes at Loftus Versfeld, but that was enough time to score the most important try of the weekend. Vermaak's late winner against the Sharks was yet another example of his uncanny ability to be in the right place, at the right time. It could turn out be one of the most influential tries of the season as victory put the Bulls in pole position for a home semi-final.
8 Kieran Read (Crusaders) - Sergio Parisse? Louis Picamoles? At the moment, we think Read has the edge as the world's best number eight. Saturday's performance - his first since the June Tests - was close to faultless as he got a brace of tries, tackled well and was good in the line-out.
7 Elliot Dixon (Highlanders) - Adept at playing both six and number eight, 23-year old Dixon has proven to be a rare bright spot in the Highlanders during a rough season - and he showed why against the Hurricanes. Bagging the final try from TJ Ioane's stunning pass capped a fine game for the open side, with an absurd 22 tackles to his name. One to keep an eye on.
6 Marcell Coetzee (Sharks) - Despite being on the losing side in Pretoria, the Sharks flank was named Man of the Match as just reward for a tireless effort, not only at the rucks but as a highly-effective ball carrier and provider of forward momentum (which is why we don't mind switching him to the other side of the scrum). Highlanders charger TJ Ioane deserves a mention for his 19 tackles and his role in setting up Elliot Dixon's try.
5 James Broadhurst (Hurricanes) - A real workhorse in the engine room against the Highlanders and fully deserved his late try, despite it being somewhat contentious. The 25-year-old slips under the radar next to Jeremy Thrush but was definitely the outstanding lock on show in Wellington on Saturday.
4 Franco van der Merwe (Sharks) - Despite ending up on the losing side, Van der Merwe was part of a Sharks pack that gave the Bulls plenty of problems at the line-out in Pretoria. Add to that his double figure tackle count - 10 - and good work at the breakdown; the big man makes our team.
3 Brok Harris (Stormers) - It's not often that Harris gets a public pat on the back but after a decent return of six go-forwards and five tackles, he gets into the mix. Mention for Crusaders tighthead who, like Harris, put in an 80 minutes shift that helped secure their side a victory.
2 Ash Dixon (Hurricanes) - Third-choice in Wellington at the start of the season. That pecking order may need rethinking after how Dixon has been going in recent weeks. Has good pace which was evident against the Highlanders as he made 54 metres. In the same game, Liam Coltman was strong.
1 Tony Woodock (Highlanders) - Jamie Mackintosh's departure last week came as no surprise considering the incumbent All Black loosehead has kept him out of the side since his move to Dunedin. A high tackle count of 17 along with a couple of productive breaks highlighted why Woodcock is still ranked among the best in the game.