Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Super Rugby: Who's hot and who's not - week 12

Steven Luatua has been both strong on attack and defence for the Blues. Photo / Getty Images
Steven Luatua has been both strong on attack and defence for the Blues. Photo / Getty Images

Patrick McKendry names the top back, standout forward and the four in-form teams from the weekend's Super 15 action.

Back of the week
Aaron Smith (Highlanders)
The little halfback came good just as his team did, and the two are closely linked. Smith's darting runs keeping the Sharks' defence honest and created space for his backs. He also performed a nice continuity role, helping attacks along as the Highlanders finally fired. Much better from the All Black.

Forward of the week
Steven Luatua (Blues)
Top coaches need their forwards to throw themselves at metaphorical brick walls and that's what Luatua did against the Stormers. Sir John Kirwan had challenged the No6 to develop his game this season. He wants someone with it all on defence and attack - an all-rounder. Luatua appears to be one.

Coach killer
Pat Lambie (Sharks)
The Sharks' eyes lit up at Forsyth Barr Stadium despite trailing by three points with five minutes to go. They had received a penalty which, when kicked to touch by Pat Lambie would have put them hot on attack and ready to launch for their lineout. Only problem was, Lambie missed touch. Game over.

Fab Four

Blues
won 18-17 v Stormers, North Harbour Stadium
5th overall, 2nd in NZC
Against the Reds the Blues looked like they could score four tries, but ended up with only one in a defeat. Here, they looked like scoring zero, yet came away with a deserved victory built on defensive grit. As Sir John Kirwan said, it was a mature performance. How the Stormers will rue not taking their shots at goal in the first half.

Highlanders
won 25-22 v Sharks, Forsyth Barr Stadium
15th overall, 5th in NZC
They did it, finally, and in Brad Thorn's 100th Super Rugby match. The second half of this match was a thriller, the Highlanders overcoming an eight-point halftime deficit with some inspirational attacking play, set up often as not, by fullback Ben Smith. As Thorn said after his first win in a Highlanders jersey, "Yeah baby!".

Crusaders
won 30-23 v Brumbies, Canberra Stadium
7th overall, 3rd in NZC
The Crusaders were a bit grumpy heading into this match and took out their frustrations on the Brumbies in one of their best performances of the season. The forwards paved the way, as they usually do, and the backs chimed in with three nice tries to Andy Ellis, Zac Guildford and Israel Dagg. Actually, Dagg's was a blinder and showed he goes okay at fullback after being dropped by Todd Blackadder.

Waratahs
won 72-10 v Kings, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
8th overall, 3rd in AC
Wow, who saw this coming? The Kings have been excellent given the challenges they face in their first season but were blown to bits by the Waratahs. Remarkably, it was the Sydneysiders' first victory in South Africa for four years. They took only 19 minutes to score their fourth try for a bonus point.

Form XV
Ben Smith (Highlanders)
Phil Burleigh (Highlanders)
Tamati Ellison (Highlanders)
Bundee Aki (Chiefs)
Hosea Gear (Highlanders)
Colin Slade (Highlanders)
Aaron Smith (Highlanders)
Peter Saili (Blues)
Matt Todd (Crusaders)
Steven Luatua (Blues)
Luke Romano (Crusaders)
Brad Thorn (Highlanders)
Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs)
Andrew Hore (Highlanders)
Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders)

- APNZ

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