Since there was only one game I considered giving the post weekend review from the couch a skip, but alas I know my millions and millions of followers will just not be satisfied by that. So, here we go on my thoughts of the weekend and the Super Rugby 2018 season as a whole…
A lion might be the prime predator of the lot when it comes to the laws of the jungle (or more accurately the African bush) but going into Saturday’s final they were always seen as the prey rather than the hunter. The South Africans gave it all they had and fought tooth and nail but when they couldn’t cross the whitewash in those opening dozen minutes a shock upset was ruled out completely and they were destined to be dished up for a Crusader supper.
The Crusaders nullified the Lions’ main channel of attack – either poaching the lineout ball or launching incredible defensive mauls. Despite Swys’ side never giving up one always felt the hosts had things comfortably under control. Like a pride of young lions they clearly had their meal on hooves well and truly surrounded and proceeded to toy with them a bit before dining out. Every time the buck managed to graze one of its attackers with its horns the predators would just respond by sinking the claws a bit deeper into the backside of the prone antelope.
Anyway the Lions can hold their heads high. I have read a lot of snarly comments for especially Bulls fans quickly pointing to the fact that despite competing in three finals over the same number of years the men from Johannesburg had “nothing” to show for their efforts. Well, its becoming further and further into the past that one needs to delve to find the Bulls’ glory days and personally I would rather be a Lions supporter at present than any other SA franchise – they are still the closest of all our sides to playing a complete game.
Okay so for my final piece I will venture into shark-infested waters by trying my hand a picking a team of the tournament. The ground rules I play by is that I only select a player in the position he played most of his rugby and despite some guys perhaps having better stats in certain areas I go for who I feel was the more complete, yet also influential player over the course of the season. I have seen the team selected and published on the Sanzaar and they have a lot of stats backing up their selections. But for instance, we might all know that Damian Jetshoes McKenzie has beaten more okes than a principle about to go on pension but surely there are more things to consider than picking the flyhalf who has the best step.
TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT
- Angus Taavao-Matau: The redheaded Shrek had another bright season and Michael Alaalatoa made a huge impression but Taavao was full of fire in 2018.
- Malcolm Marx (Lions): If the newer version of the Toyota Hilux is tougherer then whilst 2017 was big for Marx the 2018 season was even bigger for the man who is now without doubt the best hooker in world rugby.
- Taniela Tupou (Reds): What a break-through season for the rhino-like prop. Tupou was a beast with ball in hand (but like a very agile and pacey one).
- Brodie Retallick : There is no Fantasy player who doesn’t pen Brodie in as one of his first choices as the lock scores points like an outside back with his skill and work rate. The world’s best at what he does without doubt.
- RG Snyman (Bulls): Caught the eye of the National selectors with his lineout work, skills with ball in hand and rangy runs.
- Matt Todd (Crusaders): Along with David Pocock clearly the best fetcher in Super Rugby. It stumps me more than attempting to crack a rubix cube after a big night out that Todd is constantly overlooked in favour of Sam Cane by the All Black selectors. The openside is a crucial cog in the lethal machine which is Crusaders rugby.
- Cyle Brink (Lions): The big enforcer for the Lions burst onto the scene and also broke his way into this team.
- Almanaki Mafi (Rebels): Despite stealing the headlines for his Rocky exploits recently, Almanaki’s play was off the calendar during Super Rugby as he proved to be near unstoppable as ball carrier.
- TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) : Few players have as big an impact on his team as Perenara. Scrumhalves are likened to Jack Russels and TJ is the one who never stops chasing the tennis ball.
- Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders): It is no coincidence that the Crusaders’ game picked up significantly when their young pivot returned from injury. An absolute star in the making. My player of the Season
- Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs) : George Bridge was incredible as a finisher and Dyanti offered some jaw-droppingmoments but no one was as devastating with ball in hand as the Waratahs winger.
- Ruan Crotty (Crusaders) : The glue that keeps things together for the Crusaders the steady head amongst some young talent.
- Jack Goodhue (Crusaders): Formed an incredibly dangerous centre pair with Crotty. Solid yet skilled and has more than enough pace in the bag.
- Solomon Alaimalo (Chiefs): A lot of the special performances of 2018 belonged to the left wingers. But Alaimalo was a constant shining light and top performer for the Chiefs.
- Israel Folau (Waratahs): No better player under the high ball and by a country mile the most valuable player in Australian rugby. He has an incredible ability to just float into space.
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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