NPC Team of the week: Round seven
OPINION: We’re coming to the end of the competition, already. And the cream is rising to the top.
Two very dissimilar matches on Wednesday and Thursday began the round.
Hawkes’ Bay and Northland went hammer and nail at each other on attack, but defence suffered with a total of 14 tries getting through.
Northland looked to be gaining ascendancy, until Hawkes’ Bay upped the pace in the final quarter, helped by a slew of penalties resulting in Kara Pryor’s yellow card.
Hawkes’ Bay put on 3 more tries and sealed the match 55-41.
In a reversal of tactics, Bay of Plenty welcomed Manawatu and both put on some hard-line defence, but looked a bit conservative and messy on attack.
The home side couldn’t string any phases together until late in the second half. But then replacement kicker, Kaleb Trask, hit the post from an easy conversion and then missed a buzzer beater falling almost 10 metres short.
Bay of Plenty will surely rue losing this very winnable match, 15-17.
Saturday began with 2 thrashings. Waikato outlasted Southland and put on a second half spurt to win out 42-11 and retain the Ranfurly Shield.
North Harbour were much more regular in their point scoring, constantly lifting the tempo all the way through the first half, leading by 24 at the break.
Not a lot changed in the second half and the Hibiscus ran the Bulls over 26-55.
Strangely, Tasman were considered the underdogs against Wellington for the prime time Saturday match.
They certainly didn’t act like it as they set about bullying the Lions’ pack, messing with their scrum, line-out and breakdown.
Two All Blacks went head to head in the scrum. Wyatt Crockett got up inside Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen and spent the best part of the match enjoying himself up there.
Tasman let the clock run down to win the match and leap into first on the Premiership table, 22-28.
Canterbury also leapt up the standings with a convincing forward dominant victory over Hawkes’ Bay, 49-24.
In the final game of the round, Northland held on against a massive Counties Manukau surge.
Lokotui and Pulu scored early second half tries that went unconverted and with the game in the balance Northland’s Debreczeni slotted a penalty to leave the match at 20-24 to the visitors.
Next Week: With only two weeks of regular competition left, there are so many important matches to keep an eye on. Otago host Bay of Plenty, with it being the visitors last chance to push for a playoff spot. Auckland travel to Wellington on Thursday night for a 3rd vs 4th confrontation. And Northland greet Waikato, with BoP very keen for a Chiefs’ franchise sweep.
Team of the Week – Round Seven:
15 – Jamie-Jerry Taulagi (Hawkes’ Bay):
The young man is in a rich vein of form right now, with his excellent work helping spur the comeback against Northland and then showed sparks against Canterbury.
Bubbling Under: Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour)
14 – Regan Ware (Taranaki):
The single shining star in the current ‘Naki backline, breaking almost a dozen tackles and racing 174 metres, including a superb 60 metre dash to score a solo try.
Bubbling Under: Tyler Campbell (Waikato)
13 – Braydon Ennor (Canterbury):
Another strong performance from the under 20s star who is transitioning well to centre at this level.
Special mention to Stacey Ili (Hawkes’ Bay).
Bubbling Under: Rene Ranger (Northland)
12 – Dwayne Sweeney (Waikato):
The veteran of Waikato is currently in the best form of his life, breaking opposition midfields apart and knocking them back on defence.
Bubbling Under: Pasqualle Dunn (Hawkes’ Bay)
11 – Tevita Li (North Harbour):
From a poor season by his standards, Li rose like a phoenix to immolate the Bulls defences. Player of the Round!
Bubbling Under: Sevu Reece (Waikato)
10 – Mitch Hunt (Tasman):
Worked Wellington to breaking with his decisive distribution and hurt them when he took on the line.
Special mention to Jack Debreczeni (Northland) for his game management and kicking.
Bubbling Under: Fletcher Smith (Waikato)
9 – Jamie Booth (Manawatu):
At this level, his sniping causes massive problems to lagging pillar defences and it showed against Bay of Plenty with some great carries and a try for the win.
Special mention to both Hawkes’ Bay’s starting nines this round, Brad Weber and Folau Fakatava.
Bubbling Under: Mitchell Drummond (Canterbury)
8 – Marino Mikaele Tu’u (Hawkes’ Bay):
His error-less, destructive ball carries started to turn the tide against the Taniwha and he picked up over 100 metres with 6 broken tackles and worked himself a try.
Bubbling Under: Daniel Hyatt (Counties Manukau)
7 – Dillon Hunt (North Harbour):
Earned a brace from his 11 carries. The Highlander put in the big hits on defence and hard work at the breakdown. It didn’t go unnoticed.
Special mention to Gareth Evans (Hawkes’ Bay).
Bubbling Under: Phil Halder (Southland)
6 – Billy Harmon (Canterbury):
Another huge game for the up-and-coming star. 18 carries for 65 metres, 2 try assists, 11 tackles and a pilfer.
Bubbling Under: Jaycob Matiu (Northland)
5 – James Tucker (Waikato):
The consistency he’s shown is outstanding. Becoming a candidate for player of the year.
Bubbling Under: Murray Douglas (Northland)
4 – Tom Parsons (Hawkes’ Bay):
Does a lot of the tight work and was strong on the carry and immense on defence.
Special mention to Quinten Strange (Tasman).
Bubbling Under: Luke Romano (Canterbury)
3 – Josh Iosefa-Scott (Waikato):
Part of a dominant scrum and defensive line that sucked all the life out of Southland and made Waikato’s burst that much brighter.
Bubbling Under: Ross Geldenhuys (Bay of Plenty)
2 – Andrew Makalio (Tasman):
Big punishing defence and one of the Makos’ main proponents of go-forward.
Bubbling Under: Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato)
1 – Wyatt Crockett (Tasman):
A huge night for the Crusader, fantastic defence, including 3 breakdown steals, dominant scrum and the big man offloaded and ran like a youth.
Bubbling Under: Alex Hodgman (Canterbury)
Team of the Week – Round Six: 15 George Bridge (Canterbury), 14 Matt Duffie (North Harbour), 13 Levi Aumua (Tasman), 12 Scott Gregory (Northland), 11 Ben Lam (Wellington), 10 Mitch Hunt (Tasman), 9 Finlay Christie (Tasman), 8 Thomas Waldrom (Wellington), 7 Mitchell Jacobson (Waikato), 6 Pita Sowakula (Taranaki), 5 James Tucker (Waikato), 4 James Blackwell (Wellington), 3 Marcel Renata (Auckland), 2 James Parsons (North Harbour), 1 Wyatt Crockett (Tasman).
Team of the Week – Round Five: 15 Wes Goosen (Wellington), 14 Mitchell Scott (Otago), 13 Matt Faddes (Otago), 12 Tinoai Faiane (Auckland), 11 Sevu Reece (Waikato), 10 Fletcher Smith (Waikato), 9 Jono Kitto (Northland), 8 Dylan Nel (Otago), 7 Dalton Papali’i (Auckland), 6 Vaea Fifita (Wellington), 5 Paripari Parkinson (Tasman), 4 Ben Fotheringham (Southland), 3 Josh Iosefa-Scott (Waikato), 2 James Parsons (North Harbour), 1 Wyatt Crockett (Tasman).
Team of the Week – Round Four: 15 Wes Goosen (Wellington), 14 Nigel Ah Wong (Counties Manukau), 13 Rob Thompson (Manawatu), 12 Dwayne Sweeney (Waikato), 11 Sevu Reece (Waikato), 10 Fletcher Smith (Waikato), 9 Brad Weber (Hawkes’ Bay), 8 Dylan Nel (Otago), 7 Mitchell Jacobson (Waikato), 6 Mitchell Crosswell (Taranaki), 5 Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland), 3 Kalolo Tuiloma (Counties Manukau), 2 Robbie Abel (Auckland), 1 Sam Prattley (Auckland).
Team of the Week – Round Three: 15 Wes Goosen (Wellington), 14 Ben Lam (Wellington), 13 Rob Thompson (Manawatu), 12 Teihorangi Walden (Taranaki), 11 Jona Nareki (Otago), 10 Mitch Hunt (Tasman), 9 Te Toirua Tahuriorangi (Taranaki), 8 Akira Ioane (Auckland), 7 Mitch Karpik (Bay of Plenty), 6 Dalton Papali’i (Auckland), 5 Jack Whetton (Auckland), 4 Luke Romano (Canterbury), 3 Angus Ta’avao (Taranaki), 2 Asafo Aumua (Wellington), 1 Reuben O’Neill (Taranaki).
Team of the Week – Round Two: 15 Will Jordan (Tasman), 14 Melani Nanai (Auckland), 13 Rob Thompson (Manawatu), 12 Thomas Umaga-Jensen (Wellington), 11 Manasa Mataele (Taranaki), 10 Matthew Lansdown (Waikato), 9 Brad Weber (Hawkes’ Bay), 8 Sam Henwood (Counties Manukau), 7 Mitch Karpik (Bay of Plenty), 6 Liam Mitchell (Manawatu), 5 Ben Nee Nee (North Harbour), 4 Luke Romano (Canterbury), 3 Angus Ta’avao (Taranaki), 2 Ash Dixon (Hawkes’ Bay), 1 Ross Wright (Northland).
Team of the Week – Round One: 15 Shaun Stephenson (North Harbour), 14 Seta Tamanivalu (Taranaki), 13 Levi Aumua (Tasman), 12 Matthew Johnson (Southland), 11 Rene Ranger (Northland), 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop (Wellington), 9 Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty), 8 Akira Ioane (Auckland), 7 Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki), 6 Ethan Blackadder (Tasman), 5 Aaron Carroll (Bay of Plenty), 4 Quinton Strange (Tasman), 3 Marco Fepulea’i (Auckland), 2 Andrew Makalio (Tasman), 1 Wyatt Crockett (Tasman).
Team of the Tournament – 2017: 15 George Bridge (Canterbury), 14 Monty Ioane (Bay of Plenty), 13 Seta Tamanivalu (Taranaki), 12 Jack Goodhue (Northland), 11 Tevita Li (North Harbour), 10 Richie Mo’unga (Canterbury), 9 Mitchell Drummond (Canterbury), 8 Toa Halafihi (Taranaki), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi (Wellington), 6 Tom Sanders (Canterbury), 5 Jimmy Tupou (Counties Manukau), 4 Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), 3 Alex Fidow (Wellington), 2 Asafo Aumua(Wellington), 1 Ross Wright (Northland).
By Richard Neale