Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

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

Workrate, accuracy and reading the play are details which have not deserted Richard Kahui uring his injury exile. Photo / Getty Images
Workrate, accuracy and reading the play are details which have not deserted Richard Kahui uring his injury exile. Photo / Getty Images

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

Forward of the week
Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders)

When tight head prop Owen Franks limped off with damaged ribs the Crusaders had every right to think their number was up. They started without a clutch of stars but Wyatt Crockett, he of the maligned left arm and folding frame, swapped sides of the scrum and purred into action.

He was one of a bunch of heroes but Crockett's core work in unfamiliar duties mixed in with his all-purpose value at rucks, mauls and on defence was serious quality. At test level, Crockett has not been trusted to cover both scrum pillars. Those rules have changed but not at Super 15 where Crockett's versatilty might be even more crucial in the coming weeks.

Back of the week
Richard Kahui (Chiefs)

Hard to look past him isn't it, as most females have discovered.

The soon-to be-wed centre returned for his first start since the latest of his shoulder operations and willed himself and his Chiefs backline to impose themselves on the visiting Blues. Workrate, accuracy and reading the play are details which have not deserted the centre during his injury exile. He led the line and one covering spot tackle on Charles Piutau was vintage stuff on top of his regular numbers. Several attacking slices should have accrued more while the passes and occasional kick showed a man with a full bag of talent who is worth every yen his Japanese club shelled out.

Coach killer
Jonathon White

The Bulls were stiffed on the buzzer by Kiwi referee Jonathon White in Canberra. They are not the most intoxicating side to watch but they had clawed back to 20-all against the Brumbies just shy of fulltime and had done enough for a draw in their last game on the road. They retrieved the kickoff but as their halfback looked to go blind his way was blocked by several offside Brumbies players. Referee White waved play on, the Bulls ran open but were penalised harshly at the breakdown. Even the cyclopsian Ocker commentators remarked on that injustice. This was a case for a video replay but no go. The Brumbies kicked the goal for the Clayton's victory.

The Fab Four

1) Crusaders
Won 19-14 v Stormers, Cape Town
5th overall, 2nd in NZC
No wonder Todd Blackadder punched the the air in jubilation in the coach's box. This was a victory for planning, skill and willpower. On paper there was no way the Crusaders should havewon - jetlagged, away from home, without their superstars and then collecting mid-match injuries. As they fell behind after the first quarter, it would have been easy to write themoff. But somehow they found their rhythm and began the long haul back. They picked off the Stormers' lineout and rattled their temperament. Young five-eighths Tyler Bleyendaal kicked expertly for field position and goal, and his comrades knocked back everything the Stormers could throw at them.

2) Chiefs
Won 23-16 v Blues, MtMaunganui
2nd overall, 1st in NZC
This was a furious contest with two sides intent on giving the ball air and pounding the other in defence. The Chiefs held thewhip hand throughout and it was surprising they did not win by at least 20 points. They brought an unrelenting defensive line which pinned the Blues for all but the late stages and made enough inroads on attack to have claimed a bonus point try. A few flaws and the Blues' courage stopped that but the Chiefs head for their bye at the top of the New Zealand conference. They also managed to get somelike Tanerau Latimer and Ben Tameifuna into action but best of all, centre Richard Kahui survived his first start with a bumper performance.

3) Reds
Won34-33 v Highlanders,Dunedin
3rd overall, 2nd in AC
A first victory in Highlanders territory might not sound much with the way the southern men are travelling this season. Try telling that to any of the Reds though who pushed out to a decent lead and just held on as the Highlanders found out howto play in the last quarter. Whatever is not quite right with the Highlanders, Will Genia found out howtomake them pay. The halfback was in glistening form and when he crossed for the bonus point try, the Reds had the game on toast. Something good happened for the Highlanders in the last 20 minutes though and the trick for the players and coach Jamie Joseph is to bottle that and reproduce it this week at Eden Park.

4) Brumbies
Won 23-20 v Bulls, Canberra
1st overall, 1st in AC
Awkward little contest this for the hosts who had travelled home from South Africa while the Bulls were keen to wrap up their road trip with a flourish. It had been a tough month with injuries and playing in pink in Auckland, Christchurch, Brisbane and Canberra. Hopes for a last game revivial looked doomed. They were always chasing until JJ Engelbrecht skipped down the touchline andMorne Steyn nailed the sideline conversion. A draw might have been justice until referee Jonathan White intervened with a dud call and Christian Lealiifano kicked his sixth penalty after the siren. Wonder what refs' boss Lyndon Bray will make of that as the Brumbies thank their fortune in the middle of a rugged nine game stretch.

NZ FORM XV
15 Ben Smith - Highlanders
14 Lelia Masaga - Chiefs
13 Richard Kahui - Chiefs
12 Bundee Aki - Chiefs
11 Hosea Gear - Highlanders
10 Tyler Bleyendaal - Crusaders
9 Willi Heinz - Crusaders
8 Fritz Lee - Chiefs
7 Matt Todd - Crusaders
6 Steven Luatua - Blues
5 Brodie Retallick - Chiefs
4 Sam Whitelock - Crusaders
3 Wyatt Crockett - Crusaders
2 Corey Flynn -Crusaders
1 Toby Smith -Chiefs

- APNZ

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