Round One of Super Rugby Aotearoa kicked off, much to the delight of rugby fans around the world, in stunning style with some top class displays of rugby from the New Zealanders. The Highlanders managed a nail-biting victory over the Chiefs in Otago and the Blues proved too strong for the Hurricanes outfit in front of a 43 000 strong Eden Park crowd. We take a look at the top performers in the stats after this frenetic first week.
Highlanders flanker, Dillon Hunt, was the busiest man on defence this week, notching up a total of 19 tackles against the Chiefs. The 25 year old showed little sign of fatigue or a lack of match practice, displaying an energy which contributed greatly to his side’s victory. Blues flanker Tom Robinson was also impressive, making 16 tackles while Reed Prinsep from the Chiefs managed 14.
Hunt’s work-rate manifested itself on the ground as well, winning three turnovers. This achievement was mirrored by Damian McKenzie, surprisingly, as well as Blues flanker Dalton Papali’i.
It should come as no surprise that the name of Mark Telea topped the ‘defenders beaten’ stat. The Blues flyer, in his mercurial way, got past ten Hurricanes tacklers. The Chiefs’ Shaun Stevenson managed to beat 6 and Marino Mikaele Tu’u (Highlanders) and Caleb Clarke (Blues) each beat 5.
Anton Lienert-Brown and Hoskins Sotutu attacked the defensive line with vigour, each carrying the ball 15 times for the Highlanders and Blues respectively, while their teammates Marino Mikaele Tu’u and Rieko Ioane both made 13.
Caleb Clarke’s industry on attack saw the winger come away from the field having racked up 105 running metres for his team, streets ahead of teammate Mark Telea (68) and Chiefs centre Sean Wainui (63).