Super Rugby Pacific 2023 TOTW: Looking at the best Australian performers from Round Three

Mon, Mar 13, 2023, 3:13 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Brumbies return to Canberra to face their old foes from Queensland.

Round three of Super Rugby Pacific saw plenty of players step up as teams start to build momentum.

There were two Australian derbies, with the Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies getting victories over the NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds respectively.

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Meanwhile, the Western Force found a way to escape with victory over Moana Pasifika in Perth.

With this in mind, has selected the best from the Australian sides for round three.

1.Matt Gibbon (Melbourne Rebels)

Gave his blood, sweat and several teeth towards getting the Rebels over the line.

He set the tempo with a bone-crunching tackle on Izaia Perese in the opening minutes before living out every prop’s dream with a dummy, step and try under the posts.

Went the full 80 minutes outside of a blood bin and has really stepped up his World Cup ambitions

2. Lachlan Lonergan (ACT Brumbies)

Lonergan continues to deliver consistent performances for the Brumbies.

He led the way with 14 tackles in a busy 60 minutes that saw Lonergan once again salute at the back of a rolling maul

3. Cabous Eloff (Melbourne Rebels)

Eloff took his opportunity to start with both hands with a dominant showing.

He constantly took the ball up over the advantage line whilst nullifying the effectiveness of Tom Lambert at scrum time.

It presents a major headache for coach Kevin Foote, with Sam Talakai set to return from a concussion whilst Pone Fa’amausili continues to make an impact off the bench.

4. Nick Frost (ACT Brumbies)

Frost is becoming a near-automatic selection at this rate such is his sustained quality.

He once again produced double-digit tackles and carries whilst proving a menace at lineout time for a Reds’ team that struggled late.

The elite motor was on full display late with an explosive run with the game in the balance and remains one of the form players for the Brumbies.

5. Felix Kalapu (Western Force)

Kalapu stepped up for the Force when they needed added go-forward in an injury-ravaged pack.

He broke multiple tackles in the first half whilst stealing a key line out as Moana Pasifika threatened to run away with the game.

6. Tim Anstee (Western Force)

Anstee continues to shine for the Force as he presses his Wallaby claims.

His breakdown work was key, securing a number of crucial turnovers whilst tackling everything that moved.

The charge-down in the final minute created one final chance for the Force and ultimately won them the game 

7. Fraser McReight (Queensland Reds)

McReight remains dynamic for the Reds in all aspects of the game.

His breakdown presence is elite whilst he is a threat whenever he sprints the ball over the advantage line or looms in support.

McReight’s counterpart Rory Scott was also solid whilst Brad Wilkin delivered a captain’s knock for the Rebels

8. Richard Hardwick (Melbourne Rebels)

The form back-rower from the Australian sides to start 2023.

Hardwick was unlucky to miss out last week but more than delivered for the Rebels with a brilliant display around the ruck.

He constantly beat the likes of Hooper, Gamble and Gleeson to the breakdown, frustrating the Waratahs like he said he would and was rewarded in kind with a try just before the half-time break.

For this, he holds out Harry Wilson, who has come into this season with a point to prove after a game-high 17 carries for 90m, a pair of offloads and a try

9. Nic White (ACT Brumbies)

White’s experience was on full display as he was honoured by the club for breaking 100 games for the Brumbies a fortnight ago.

The scrum-half showed great awareness to stay alive for Cadeyrn Neville’s offload for the opening try whilst controlling the speed of the game.

He narrowly holds out Ryan Louwrens, who has come back a more-rounded player for the Rebels since returning from Japan and the USA.

10. Carter Gordon (Melbourne Rebels)

If Super Rugby Pacific had a most improved award, Gordon would be the clear favourite after the first three weeks.

He helped change the game with a brilliant 50-22 before putting Josh Kemeny in the clear and scoring a try of his own to seal the win.

For this, he just edges out James O’Connor, who wound back the clock off the bench with a stunning display to get the Reds back into the contest, and Bryce Hegarty, who was one of the Force’s best in their win over Moana Pasifika.

11. Filipo Daugunu (Queensland Reds)

Daugunu looked dangerous with every carry of the ball and sparked the Reds’ comeback.

He broke nine tackles on his nine carries, proving a handful for the defence.

12. Stacey Ili (Melbourne Rebels)

Ili remains one of the most underrated players in the Melbourne Rebels backline.

He serves as a great foil for Gordon, setting the scene early with a quick break before throwing the offload that put Lachlan Anderson into space to kick-start the move for their opening try.

It was just enough to hold out Hunter Paisami after another strong effort for the Reds

13. Reece Hodge (Melbourne Rebels)

Hodge was at his dynamic best for the Rebels, stunning the Waratahs with a period of brilliance.

He showed the pace to beat Ben Donaldson for the opening try whilst the vision and execution to find Anderson with the grubber was pin-point.

After floating across the backline, Hodge has settled nicely into outside centre and forms a key part of their backline, which will only get better with Andrew Kellaway’s impending return

14. Lachlan Anderson (Melbourne Rebels)

Anderson showed what the Rebels were missing in 2022 with his injury.

In the first half, he dabbed the perfect kick over the top for the Reece Hodge try before finishing nicely in the corner when Hodge returned the favour.

He finished the game with 12 runs for a game-high 88 metres, cementing his spot in a talented backline.

This just pushes him over the line over Andy Muirhead, who always delivered a quality performance when the Brumbies need him.

15. Jordan Petaia (Queensland Reds)

Petaia produced yet another quality performance for the Reds at the back.

He leapt high just after the break before finishing off James O’Connor’s looping ball for his second.

It was far from a perfect performance, struggling under the high ball for periods, but the attacking spark and tireless work rate (10 runs for 94 metres) won him the points decision over Tom Wright.