Super Rugby: Winners and losers week 3

By Kris Shannon

Few defences are able to cope with Ben Smith. Photo / Getty
Few defences are able to cope with Ben Smith. Photo / Getty

Kris Shannon looks at the winners and losers from week three of Super Rugby.

Back of the week

Ben Smith
The Highlanders' attacking menace was exemplified by their linchpin at the back. And, in particular, by the move just after halftime that sparked a three-try outburst.

Showing equal parts intuition and timing,the fullback's combination with Aaron Smith showcased the Highlanders' ability to strike from anywhere at any time.

That run saw Ben Smith amass the majority of his 111 metres for the match, also making four clean breaks and linking well with Matt Faddes to lay on Malakai Fekitoa's match-sealing try. When Smith and the Highlanders are in this mood, few defences will be able to cope.

Herald Rugby Stats Centre

Forward of the week

Charlie Faumuina

If the idea was to slowly and steadily build Faumuina's workload before injecting him with maximum effect, mission accomplished. The All Black was superb in his first start of the season, excelling in almost all facets to immediately add resolve to the Blues' forward pack. While steadying a scrum that had struggled a week earlier, Faumuina's aggression was obvious on both sides of the ball. Ever-present at the breakdown,the prop also led his side with 13 tackles, while his running with ball in hand was of such force that he beat
five Hurricanes defenders from just 11 carries.

Coachkiller

Sunwolves defence
Playing at their second home in Singapore for the first time, a first-half hat-trick from Japan winger Akihito Yamada appeared to set the Sunwolves oncourse for a historic victory against the Cheetahs.

Tusi Pisi's penalty after the halftime break gave the Super Rugby new boys a 31-13 lead
with 35 minutes to play against their fellow strugglers, but then it all went horribly wrong.The home side were helpless to stop the Cheetahs from scoring 19 unanswered points to claim the match, with Boom Prinsloo's try in the final 10 minutes leaving the Sunwolves howling.

The Fab Four

1) Brumbies
Not just for the game itself - the Brumbies haven't lost to the Force since 2013 - but also for a continuation of their Super Rugby supremacy. The table-toppers and title favourites took control early and withstood a late fightback in Perth, leaving them unbeaten ahead of their toughest test to date: a trip to Cape Town next weekend and a clash with the Stormers.

2) Highlanders
A magnificent performance was made all the more impressive given this was the same Lions side who had proven so problematic for the Chiefs a week earlier. But the South Africans were powerless to stop a Highlanders' attack that threatened all over the field, managing twice as many clean breaks as their opponents from fewer than half the carries.

3) Chiefs
The Chiefs were equally electric with ball in hand but, aside from a lineout drive, the Kings didn't offer enough to mount a credible challenge. Still, Dave Rennie's men were far more
fluent than last week, led by another outstanding display from Damian McKenzie, nailing 10-from-10 off the tee while excelling first at fullback and, after Aaron Cruden had a rest, then at first five.

4) Sharks
A showdown of the two unbeaten teams from the South Africa group didn't disappoint, with Kurt Coleman's late penalty appearing to earn the Stormers a draw before Sharks No 10 Joe Pietersen scored a try four minutes from fulltime to clinch the spoils. The Stormers had led 10-3 at halftime but Pietersen's haul of 13 points saw off his former side.

- NZ Herald

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