Team of the Week
What a weekend for Americas players! The Jaguares in fine form, Major Leauge Rugby preseason action, and many players enjoying strong games in Europe. It’s been a while since we’ve seen so much competition for places, in fact this might be the best weekend on record with enough players to select two sides with ease. Alas, there can be only one…
1 – Bruno Postiglioni (Gernika) Played in horrendous muddy conditions that made it nearly impossible to tell which team was which (and both in green jerseys!), the former Pumas prop lasted the entire match and scored a vital first half try to lead his team past Independiente. Other try-scoring efforts came from Petrarca’s Romulo Acosta and Medicei’s Luciano Montivero.
2 – Pat Blair (San Diego Legion) A pair of tries for the Eagles hooker in his first match for his new team. Amazingly he now heads off to the Hong Kong Sevens! It’s not every day you can say that about a front row. Tomás Baravalle played well for Benetton Treviso and also found the tryline.
3 – Mason Pedersen (Austin Elite) It’s a try-scoring bonanza for the front row this week, two touchdowns for Austin’s skipper and he also dominated the scrum. Dino Waldren grabbed a try in a solid replacement appearance for London Scottish. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro didn’t score but was outstanding in defense for the Jaguares.
4 – Sacha Casañas (VRAC) A huge match for the former Argentina XV representative. Not the tallest lock but he used his powerful physique to bash his way over for a hat-trick before halftime. It turned out to be just enough as Valladolid held off Ordizia in a wild 46-45 result.
5 – Tyler Ardron (Chiefs) Just his first start in Super Rugby and it was a memorable one. Two huge 50+ meter line breaks, one try scored, and a very good game all-around. He’ll play lock again this weekend against the Highlanders. Mariano Galarza was a tackling machine for Gloucester.
6 – Evan Olmstead (Newcastle) Big game for the Canadian, playing on the flank in the historic match at St. James’ Park. Lots of carries, tackles, and his usual menace at the breakdown. Will we hear of a contract extension soon or will it be pastures new next season?
7 – Pablo Matera (Jaguares) Already a world class player, Matera has upped the ante this season not only by assuming the captaincy but also raising his own standards. He was superb in all aspect against the Lions and gets the nod ahead of former (and future?) Pumas teammate Facundo Isa, who also had a great game for Toulon against Clermont.
8 – Javier Ortega Desio (Jaguares) After a sub-par year in 2017 the versatile forward looks revitalised and is enjoying the freedom granted at No8. Two tries against the lions and also the primary lineout target. Others worth a mention were the opposites at Archbishop Shaw Field – Houston’s Pago Haini and NOLA’s Sebastián Kalm.
9 – Holden Yungert (NOLA Gold) Gonzalo Bertranou was a steady presence for the Jaguares and was in contention. The winner, however, is Yungert who dragged NOLA back with a well-taken try against the SaberCats to lead his team to a hard-earned draw.
10 – AJ MacGinty (Sale Sharks) Six successful shots at goal for 13 points as the Sharks routed Worcester at Salford. It was the occasion, his return from a knee injury, that made it especially significant. Also outstanding and in the debate were Valentín Cruz of Ordizia and Bedford’s Will Hooley. Cruz, from Argentina, scored 20 points including one try while new Eagles cap Hooley landed sevens shots at goal for 18 points against Doncaster.
11 – DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors) Another who made a welcome return, this one a homecoming of sorts. In his first match back after departing Newcastle, the Canadian star scored two tries as the Warriors obliterated Zebre at Scotstoun.
12 – Conor Mills (Houston SaberCats) Two tries in a commanding midfield performance that should have been enough for a win against NOLA had the kickers found their mark. Others in contention included Ronnie McLean, whose last-second try earned a win for Richmond. Bautista Ezcurra looked classy for the Jaguares, as did try-scorer and captain Nicolás de Battista for Cornish Pirates.
13 – Marcelo Bosch (Saracens) A good game going forward but it was defense that mattered most. Cut down hordes of attackers in the win over Harlequins. Maybe not as quick as he once was but still a capable performer at the highest level.
14 – Bautista Delguy (Jaguares) Called into the Super Rugby squad just before the season, it’s safe to say he’ll be there full-time from now on. Gave the Lions defense fits and scored one try. Blaine Scully also had a try-scoring afternoon for Cardiff Blues.
15 – Emiliano Boffelli (Jaguares) The man who actually played fullback for the Jaguares, Joaquín Tuculet, also played well but Boffelli was so good he had to make the team somewhere. Cut the Lions defense to shreds and scored two tries. He looks on the brink of becoming a global star.