Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Super Rugby: Who's hot and who's not - week 20

James O'Connor ran the show against the Highlanders, but where he ends up next year is anyone's guess. Photo / Getty Images
James O'Connor ran the show against the Highlanders, but where he ends up next year is anyone's guess. 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:
James O'Connor (Rebels)

A provocative selection this, just like the man himself. Officially cut from the Rebels during the week and left on the bench due to his regular off-field issues, Wallabies playmaker O'Connor's entrance coincided with the Rebels' extraordinary fightback against the Highlanders. Basically he ran the show, but where he ends up next year is anyone's guess.

Forward of the week:
Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs)

The hits keep coming for Big Ben, the Chiefs' new Sona Taumalolo. Tameifuna's two tries against the Blues took his season tally to six, a number threatening the legendary try-scoring deeds of former Chiefs prop Taumalolo, who happens to be Tameifuna's uncle. As coach Dave Rennie said, put the ball in Tameifuna's hands 5m from the tryline and he is very hard to stop.

Coach Killer:
Brumbies

Options galore this week. The Highlanders went close for blowing a big lead, the Bulls too, after giving up top spot when losing to the Stormers. Referee Chris Pollock went close for his card caper, but topping the list are the Brumbies, who lost lamely to the Force when a win would have given them a home semifinal. A terrible finish to a tough week for Jake White.

Fab four

Blues
Lost 26-16 to Chiefs at Eden Park
10th overall, 3rd in NZC
The word "courageous" is over-used in sport and it's not applicable in this case either but the Blues showed huge character to bounce back from the questionable red card to Kane Barrett and yellow card to Baden Kerr to make a real game of this. The Blues' backs, particularly Charles Piutau, Frank Halai and Rene Ranger, were outstanding.

Stormers
Won 30-13 v Bulls at Newlands
7th overall, 3rd in SAC
A fantastic victory for the Stormers who saved their best for last. The Bulls needed a win to secure top spot but were run off their feet by the home side in the three-tries-to-one performance. Morne Steyn made his intentions clear when missing a dropped goal attempt in the first minute. Bryan Habana scored a try in his final match for the Stormers before his move to France.

Force
Won 21-15 v Brumbies at NIB Stadium
13th overall, 5th in AC
Another team to upset the odds, the Force dealt a big blow to the Brumbies' finals hopes. Jake White's men must now host the ever-dangerous and unpredictable Cheetahs instead of having a week off and a home semi. The Force went out to a 21-3 lead before the Aussie conference winners finally roused themselves.

Rebels
Won 38-37 v Highlanders at AAMI Park
12th overall, 4th in AC
An incredible match decided only after the hooter when Bryce Hegarty scored his second try. The Highlanders, like the week before against the Hurricanes, took their foot off the gas after the break (they were up 31-7) but this time they paid dearly. An embarrassing loss for them, but a victory which will boost the Rebels. With five victories this is their best season ever.

Form XV
15. Charles Piutau (Blues)
14. Frank Halai (Blues)
13. Rene Ranger (Blues)
12. Bundee Aki (Chiefs)
11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
10. Colin Slade (Highlanders)
9. Andy Ellis (Crusaders)
8. Peter Saili (Blues)
7. Luke Braid (Blues)
6. Brad Shields (Hurricanes)
5. James Broadhurst (Hurricanes)
4. Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes)
3. Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs)
2. Andrew Hore (Highlanders)
1. Toby Smith (Chiefs)

Highlights

Chiefs 26 Blues 16

Rebels 38 Highlanders 37

Crusaders 25 Hurricanes 17

- APNZ

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