NZ Super Rugby team of the week, round fourteen

Ardie Savea scoring the winner for his Hurricanes this week. Photo / Getty
Ardie Savea scoring the winner for his Hurricanes this week. Photo / Getty

Another two cracking New Zealand derbies can't hide the fact that the Chiefs were shellacked in Sydney.

However it was those all kiwi clashes that provided much contemplation and consternation for Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden as he selected his final NZ Form Team of the Week prior to Super Rugby's month long hiatus:

1. Reg Goodes (Hurricanes) was very busy, especially on defence where he's credited with 18 tackles. He didn't carry often but when he did it was effective as were his core roles of scrumming, cleanouts and lifting in the lineout.

2. Dane Coles (Hurricanes) level of play is nearing the point where he's close to joining halfback Aaron Smith as the player the All Blacks cannot afford to be without, something reinforced by another excellent showing against the Highlanders.

3. Why coach Tana Umaga removed Charlie Faumuina (Blues) just ten minutes into the second half on Saturday night was beyond baffling.

Up to that point, Faumuina had been a standout for the home side. He'd scrummed well in a great series of contests against Joe Moody, was carrying strongly, defending to great effect (just ask Johnny McNicholl's ribs) and looked like he had plenty more where that came from before the perplexing substitution.

4. That was the Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues) who made such an impact in 2014. His physicality was felt by the majority of the Crusaders on Saturday night, while we also saw his athleticism, highlighted by his chase down tackle during a Crusaders counter attack down the left flank. Now watch him flourish even more as he returns to All Black environment.

5. Tom Franklin (Highlanders) work-rate in Wellington was outstanding. He gets around the field exceedingly well, makes very good decision on whether to tackle, pass, cleanout or pick and go and is very effective with whatever option he takes.

It was interesting to talk to Tom at the All Black squad naming and hear him mention other Otago locks like Tom Donnelly, Simon Maling and James Ryan, as he is very much cut form the same cloth.

6. Anyone else get the feeling that Jerome Kaino (Blues) wanted to prove a point or two prior to the All Black squad announcement the next morning? His defence was especially stinging and was it just me or did he have a little extra pepper for Jordan Taufua on the couple of occasion they came together. Kaino carried hard (standard) and was an excellent source of quality lineout ball for the Blues.

7. Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) produced as complete an openside performance as you could wish to see & thoroughly deserved all of the rich plaudits that followed. Forward of the Week

8. Another workaholic game from Luke Whitelock (Highlanders) with 18 tackles, 12 carries, a lineout steal, good support play and enough energy to power Fielding for the next two months.

9. For mine, TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) outplayed Aaron Smith, which I believe is something in itself. As we've seen at times this season, when Perenara and Beauden Barrett get fully in sync, they can control a game as a duo with the best of them and Perenara's all-round quality play at halfback was a significant reason for that on Friday night. Back of the Week

10. Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes) kicked a lot (16 times to be precise) but he executed the vast majority of those kicks with great accuracy.

While it's clearly not his natural game, he, in partnership with Perenara, executed that potion of the game plan exceedingly well and between them controlled things nicely on route to a vital win in the context of their season.

11. This was a different type of performance from Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders).

Yes we did still see some of those lovely touches that aren't normally associated with a man of his physical stature - that's why he's a game changer - but he carried a lot (15 times) for smaller gains, but those runs with ball in hand allowed others to flourish.

Whilst it was different, Nadolo's performance was still influential.

12. Ryan Crotty (Crusaders) will never be known as the flashiest player to ever lace boots, but he's handily positioned when it comes to the conversation about most consistent.

If you like your offensive stats, Crotty's were pretty good - 101 metres gained including 2 line breaks and a trio of defender beaten - and his combined defence with Fonotia did well to limited the threat of George Moala in particular.

13. I couldn't have Crotty without Kieron Fonotia (Crusaders) who provided the pivotal moment of the game when he stepped through the Blues defence to offload to Andy Ellis for the try with 18 minutes to play, part of a display where he was very effective attacking the line and as mentioned early, helping to minimise the impact of the Blues midfield thrusts.

14. Cory Jane (Hurricanes) showed that there's still plenty of good quality left in him with excellent involvement in the Hurricanes win. Also want to tip my hat to Matt Duffie (Blues). Couldn't have been easy run out to face the man who last time you meant sent you in orbit, but after an initial bump off, Duffie more the held his own against Nemani Nadolo.

15. Israel Dagg (Crusaders) completed a wonderful return to rugby with his recall to the national team on Sunday morning, having delivered another brilliant all round performance against the Blues the night before.

Ben Smith (Highlanders) was his typical pretty darn good self in a losing effort in Wellington too.

** Statistics used were obtained from NZ Heralds Rugby Stats Centre

NIGEL YALDEN IS THE RUGBY EDITOR FOR RADIO SPORT & NEWSTALK ZB

- NZ Herald

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