Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week: Chiefs rewarded after third bonus-point win in a row

Super Rugby Pacific TOTW image Round Three 2023.jpg Credit: Alamy
Super Rugby Pacific TOTW image Round Three 2023.jpg Credit: Alamy

After the third round’s Super Rugby Pacific action, Planet Rugby breaks down the star performers from a thrilling weekend of rugby.

The Chiefs have the most players in our line-up with four representatives, after claiming their third successive bonus-point victory of the season, while Fijian Drua are next best with three after their triumph over the Crusaders in Lautoka.

Super Rugby Pacific Team of the Week

15 Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs): A trio of players from Australian sides in Jordan Petaia (Reds), Tom Wright (Brumbies) and Chase Tiatia (Western Force) deserve mentions but Stevenson takes his spot in our team for the second successive week after another fine performance for the Chiefs. The 26-year-old was, once again, brilliant on attack as he gained 107 metres from eight runs with four clean breaks, six defenders beaten, a couple of offloads and he was rewarded with a brace of tries.

14 Lachie Anderson (Rebels): Was one of the Rebels‘ star performers in their triumph over the Waratahs in Melbourne and gets the nod after providing plenty of headaches for the Sydneysiders’ defence. Anderson was a constant threat on attack as he made 12 runs, finishing with 81 metres gained from two clean breaks, a defender beaten and crossed the whitewash while also finishing with an assist for Reece Hodge’s try.

13 Len Ikitau (Brumbies): This was a difficult choice as Iosefo Masi of the Fijian Drua continues to impress and was one of his side’s heroes in their shock victory over the Crusaders. However, Ikitau was in excellent form for the Brumbies in their narrow victory over the Reds in Canberra as he was a threat on attack, finishing with 50 metres gained after making nine carries with one clean break and he also managed two offloads.

12 Apisalome Vota (Fijian Drua): The All Blacks duo of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jordie Barrett were involved in a great tussle in their derby in Wellington, but Vota makes the team as he was one of Drua’s best players against the defending champions. Kept his opponents on their toes with his outstanding skill-set and finished with 55 metres gained on attack from nine carries which included one clean break and an offload.

11 Etene Nanai-Seturo (Chiefs): The Chiefs have several attacking threats throughout their ranks and Nanai-Seturo is amongst their best in that department as he breached the advantage line with regularity against the Highlanders. The 23-year-old finished with a match-high 126 metres gained from 11 runs with two clean breaks, four defenders beaten and a well-taken try for his efforts. The Blues’ Caleb Clarke, Filipo Daugunu of the Reds and Salesi Rayasi of the Hurricanes also played well.

10 Damian McKenzie (Chiefs): There were outstanding performances from Noah Lolesio of the Brumbies and the Rebels’ Carter Gordon but McKenzie’s efforts could not be ignored as he was at the forefront of the Chiefs’ attack against the Highlanders in Hamilton. Always a threat with ball in hand, the All Blacks playmaker finished with 102 metres gained from 11 runs which included six defenders beaten and a couple of offloads.

9 Frank Lomani (Fijian Drua): Another one of Drua’s heroes from that memorable first-ever triumph against the Crusaders, the Fijian international caught the eye with his slick service to his outside backs and superb attacking skills. Lomani laid the groundwork to Vota’s try with a great line break and finished that match with 54 metres gained. Elsewhere, Brad Weber of the Chiefs and Nic White of the Brumbies were next best.

8 Hoskins Sotutu (Blues): Hurricanes rookie Peter Lakai was in fine form against the Blues but his direct opponent, Sotutu, was just a little better than him and played a crucial role in his side’s win in Wellington. The All Black number eight delivered an outstanding all-round display as he was superb on attack and defence. Won a couple of important turnovers, gained 84 metres – which included one clean break, two defenders beaten and a try – and made 11 tackles.

7 Dalton Papali’i (Blues): The Blues captain combined brilliantly with back-row partner Sotutu and led from the front as his team notched an important away victory. Papali’i’s groundwork was excellent as he slowed the Hurricanes’ ball down superbly and, like Sotutu, he also came to the fore with a huge shift on defence as he made a team-high 17 tackles. Meanwhile, Fraser McReight of the Reds and Waratahs veteran Michael Hooper also had some good moments.

6 Joseva Tamani (Fijian Drua): Moana Pasifika’s Miracle Fai’ilagi and Rob Valetini of the Brumbies put in fine performances against the Force and Reds respectively but we couldn’t ignore Tamani who was a thorn in the Crusaders’ defence in Lautoka. The 25-year-old took the fight to the men from Christchurch and gained 77 metres from 10 carries which included two clean breaks, a couple of defenders beaten, an offload and a memorable try for his efforts.

5 Felix Kalapu (Western Force): The young second-row was one of his side’s star performers during an impressive 48-minute stint in their narrow triumph over Moana Pasifika. Kalapu did well in the lineout and even stole one of his opponents’ balls, and also made his mark as a ball carrier as he gained a respectable 37 attacking metres from three carries with one clean break and three defenders beaten. Made six hits on defence and comes in ahead of the Highlanders’ Josh Dickson.

4 Nick Frost (Brumbies): The Wallabies second-row was one of the Brumbies’ unsung heroes as he put in a huge effort in his side’s narrow victory against the Reds. The 23-year-old did what was expected of him in the lineouts, impressed as a ball carrier – gaining 25 metres with three defenders beaten as well as an offload – and also did well on defence with 10 tackles.

3 Tyrel Lomax (Hurricanes): He was on the losing side at home to the Blues but not due to a lack of effort from the big man, who emptied the tank during a 72-minute shift in Wellington. The All Black was solid with ball in hand – which resulted in him scoring his side’s first try – stood up well in the scrums and shone in the execution of his defensive duties where he made 13 hits.

2 Samisoni Taukei’aho (Chiefs): Was one of the Chiefs’ best performers against the Highlanders as he delivered a solid shift in their third consecutive bonus-point victory of the tournament. Taukei’aho was his usual busy self with ball in hand and gained 45 metres from 13 carries which included a clean break, five defenders beaten and an offload. It was also a good round for Australian hookers as Lachlan Lonergan of the Brumbies and Folau Faing’a of the Western Force caught the eye but Taukei’aho gets the nod.

1 Matt Gibbon (Rebels): The 27-year-old was in the wars as he was left with a bloodied mouth after his team’s victory over the Waratahs but it was worth it as he was one of his side’s standout performers in Melbourne. Showed his class with a delightful dummy and step before crossing for a deserved try and also caught the eye with fine scrummaging and good defensive work. Elsewhere, the Highlanders’ Ethan de Groot also impressed.

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