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Round 2 of the Super Rugby Aotearoa was another fun one, and there were great performances across the two matchups. Here is my team of the week for Round 2:
#1. Joe Moody - Crusaders
Moody had an active game for the Crusaders in the 39-25 win over the Hurricanes. He made the initial break and offload on the Crusaders' first try of the game and rumbled for 22 total meters on the game. He was also an integral part of the team's dominating scrum performance; his team was 100% on it's scrums for the match and won two penalties.
#2. James Parsons - Blues
Lineouts have seemed to be a struggle for teams early on in the Super Rugby Aotearoa, and with torrential rains and chilly temperatures in Hamilton on Saturday night, the Blues were up against the conditions. Parsons, however, managed to land all ten of his lineout throws and completed seven tackles and had six carries. The Blues scrum was also strong and with the number of great players around him, Parsons doesn't need to be spectacular, but he's been consistently strong which is all you can ask.
#3. Michael Alaalatoa - Crusaders
Alonside Moody, Alaalatoa was rock solid in the scrum and effective in open play. He made seven tackles and carried the ball hard five times for 11 meters. He didn't commit any penalties and did his job hitting the rucks around the park.
#4. Patrick Tuipolotu - Blues
The Blues captain makes the list once again this week after another stellar performance. Tuipolotu is leading from the front for his side, and after a strong showing in Round 1 he stepped his game up another level in Round 2. He made 14 tackles, carried the ball 11 times for 34 meters, and took four lineout throws en route to the Blues' sixth win on the trot.
#5. James Blackwell - Hurricanes
Under tough circumstances playing against the top team in the league, Blackwell performed admirably. The Hurricanes second rower was strong throughout the contest, taking three lineouts, carrying 11 times, and making nine tackles on the afternoon.
#6. Akira Ioane - Blues
Finally! Akira Ioane delivered an all around performance that should turn heads moving forward. Ioane has had his place at the back of the scrum taken by the mighty impressive Hoskins Sotutu, but his move to the blindside flank proved a good one this weekend. Ioane made 12 tackles, won three turnovers, and had ten carries with two defenders beaten on the evening. The Blues back row is looking more and more dangerous every week.
#7. Cullen Grace - Crusaders
The 20 year old flanker was phenomenal against the Hurricanes. He made 13 tackles, carried eight times, made one clean line break, and had a wonderful break and pass to set up the Crusaders first try. The young man is an absolute work horse and will likely continue to get better and better with time.
#8. Hoskins Sotutu - Blues
Sotutu only missed my team of the week by a hair in Round 1, but there were no questions about who the best No. 8 was in Round 2. The big back rower for the Blues was once again dominant, carrying the ball seven times for 24 meters, jamming in a try under the posts, and tossing a splendid flat ball to Mark Telea for the Blues other try on the night. Defensively he also made 15 tackles, took four lineouts, and forced a turnover.
#9. TJ Perenara - Hurricanes
Perenara kept the Canes in the game for 70 minutes before eventually ceding control on the match. His heart and desire to win drove his team forward; he was responsible for 63 meters run on just five carries, and he made some huge tackles to slow down the Crusaders attack. He also darted in to pick off a grubber through from Sevu Reece which was bound for a sure try late in the second half. Perenara is finding that life without Beauden Barrett is tougher, but he's doing everything he can for the Canes.
#10. Richie Mo'unga - Crusaders
Mo'unga just makes the game look easy. He never appears to be rushed or flustered by anything the defense throws his way, and makes the most of every opportunity. The fly-half scored 19 points on one try, two conversions, and two penalties, knocking in some pretty difficult kicks and kicking well from hand. As always, he distributed well and had his team operating efficiently in attack all day. He had eight runs for 28 meters and beat two defenders, he kicked from hand 10 times, and he passed the ball 11 times. As a defender, it's impossible to know what Richie will do with the ball.
#11. Sevu Reece - Crusaders
Reece took no time in making his impact felt in the Crusaders matchup with the Hurricanes on Sunday, scoring the first try of the game less than one minute into the contest. He was a menace for the Canes all day, running for 73 meters on 10 carries and making two offloads.
#12. Jack Goodhue - Crusaders
Goodhue was his typical strong self on the weekend, running well, albeit not very often with four carries for 17 meters. His decision making was good, he scored a try on a beautiful support line, and he made nine out of nine tackles on the afternoon being matched up against the powerful Ngani Laumape.
#13. Quinn Tupaea - Chiefs
The 21 year old was a bright spot on a tough offensive evening for the Chiefs. After a strong performance in the first game of the season, Tupaia doubled down with a great effort in Round 2. Defensively he won two breakdown turnovers, and he carried the ball 10 times for a great purchase of 50 run meters, beating a whopping seven defenders. He'll prove to be a great partner to teammate Anton Leinert-Brown moving forward.
#14. Mark Telea - Blues
Telea continues to dazzle Super Rugby fans, as the 23 year old scored another try and earned 42 meters on eight carries while beating two defenders. His try finished off a great passage of play as he took a flat ball from Hoskins Sotutu and outraced the covering defense to score in the corner.
#15. Will Jordan - Crusaders
The youngster was superb at the back for the Crusaders on Sunday, racking up 111 meters on 14 carries and delivering a lovely try assist. He beat eight defenders, made two offloads, and secured all three of his tackles. He is an electric talent and will likely be pushing for an All Blacks jersey really soon.