Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Super Rugby: Who's hot and who's not - week 18

Dan Carter is back again. Photo / Getty Images
Dan Carter is back again. Photo / Getty Images

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

Forward of the week:
Brodie Retallick

Retallick, back a week earlier than expected from a hamstring strain, put in a performance against the Hurricanes which highlighted once again New Zealand's depth at lock. In fact, the work which Retallick got through for the Chiefs moved one former All Black to remark that Retallick could become the best lock New Zealand has ever seen. A big call for a big player.

Back of the week:
Dan Carter

He's back. Again. Carter was sublime against the Highlanders in a match which required a cool head. Obviously at full fitness and keen to prove he is better than his performance in the third test against France suggested, Carter scored a try which highlighted his elusiveness and speed and set up another. He didn't miss a kick either for a 25-point haul which kept his team in the finals hunt.

Coach killer:
Ma'a Nonu

A player familiar to this particular section of the newspaper, Nonu is showing consistency in at least one area - his penchant for making bad decisions in Super rugby. Sent off for his tip-tackle on Crusaders wing Tom Marshall which robbed the Highlanders of any chance of winning this match, Nonu has also been cited for a tackle on Dan Carter minutes earlier. More problems for Jamie Joseph (pictured).

Fab four

Chiefs
Won 34-22 v Highlanders, Waikato Stadium
1st overall, 1st in NZC
Even a rusty-looking Chiefs are better than most, especially at Waikato Stadium. The Hurricanes gave it a fair crack after wobbling early on but were eventually blown away. Dave Rennie will be pleased and not only with the bonus point win. There's no way his team will be getting ahead of themselves before next week's match against the Crusaders.

Crusaders
Won 40-12 v Highlanders, Forsyth Barr Stadium
5th overall, 2nd in NZC
A performance of composure and, eventually, attacking verve from the Crusaders. How well their young front row competed against the Highlanders veterans was a surprise, and Todd Blackadder enjoyed the luxury of being able to bring his big guns on late. A rare bonus point win which showed they aren't done yet.

Stormers
Won 28-3 v Cheetahs, Newlands
10th overall, 3rd in SAC
A result worthy of a double-take. The Cheetahs, with a top-six position to play for, had everything to gain but turned in one of their worst displays of the season. "It's definitely the shocker of the year for us," said captain Adriaan Strauss. It could spell trouble for the Cheetahs' next opponents the Blues.

Bulls
Won 48-18 v Kings, Loftus Versfeld
2nd overall, 1st in SAC
A predictably comfortable victory for the Bulls against the Kings at Loftus. The six tries to two win puts them into second place. Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said after his side beat the Hurricanes he wouldn't want to meet them in a play-off in Pretoria and this is why. Chiliboy Ralepelle and Co are flexing their considerable muscles.

Form XV
15. Ben Smith (Highlanders)
14. Frank Halai (Blues)
13. Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)
12. Bundee Aki (Chiefs)
11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
10. Dan Carter (Crusaders)
9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)
8. Matt Vant Leven (Chiefs)
7. Elliot Dixon (Highlanders)
6. George Whitelock (Crusaders)
5. Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
4. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
3. Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs)
2. Andrew Hore (Highlanders)
1. Ben Franks (Hurricanes)

- APNZ

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 23 Dec 2014 07:31:36 Processing Time: 423ms