The 'Flying Fijian' - Fantasy Super Rugby Round 16 in Review
Apologies for the delay this week, sometimes life just gets in the way, even of Fantasy Super Rugby!! I was procrastinating by coming up with the the Fantasy Wallabies, All Blacks and Springboks (check out on our twitter @fantasyxvdraft and instagram) for the June series; that is, the starting XV's based on Fox Sports Fantasy form and assuming players are injury free and eligible.
Players in Focus:
Our three players in focus in Fantasy Super Rugby round 16 are all from the Australian Super Rugby conference. We have the flying Fijian, Brumbies winger Henry Speight topping the round on 108 points, the Rebels centre Billy Meakes with 78 points and one of the most improved Waratahs in 2018, Michael Wells on 75 points.
Speight hasn't had a spectacular 2018 season to date but I would argue that is in large part a result of the Brumbies having one of their worst seasons in years. That caused
'The Flying Fijian' - Fox Sports
Henry to miss out on Wallabies selection for the June series and as a response he made one hell of a statement with his performance in round 1.6 Whilst he did indeed have an individually brilliant performance, the Brumbies as a unit really lifted their game. Henry scored two tries, made 15 runs for 189m, 8 tackle busts, 2 offloads and 6 line breaks!!! Yes - SIX line breaks!! It was one hell of a game and more of what we want to see out of the flying Fijian.
After merging with the Melbourne Rebels and working hard to earn his spot in a star studded backline, Billy Meakes has been an absolute sensation playing the vital role as link man, providing the keys to unlock some world class outside backs. Billy has put out some class fantasy rugby performances and his season average of 30.2 points would be a hell of alot higher if you took away the 4 games where he came off the bench. (For example; his last 3 average is 47.7 points and last 5 average is 39.2 points.) Against the Blues in round 16, Meakes had his game of the year with 78 points, two tries, 16 runs for 135m, 5 tackle busts, an offload, one clean line break and making 8 tackles.
Michael played very Wells this week (I had to do it). In one of the games of the year (for mine - Waratahs vs Reds), Wells had a hand in everything - popping up in all the right places across the park at Suncorp. He too put out his performance of the year, with 75 points, a try, two try assists, 9 carries for 56m, 2 tackle busts, 2 offloads, 3 line breaks, 6 tackles, 3 lineout takes and a lineout steal. It has been a breakout year for Wells and with competitor Jed Holloway giving in and settling for a start at second row this week, Wells has now officially locked down the Waratahs starting eighth man jersey. The Waratahs have come into a rich run of form at the business end of the season and with only the Rebels, Sunwolves and Brumbies left to play this season (2 of which are home games) - one would think Wells will continue to fetch managers some good fantasy returns.
Round 16 Fixtures:
Highlanders 30 – 14 Hurricanes Fantasy: 568 points – 432 points
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Boy did the Highlanders show up to play on friday night and they defended their turf as if they were being invaded by a foreign legion! They signalled this intent by starting both their resident hitmen in the backrow, Liam Squire (27 points) back from injury and Luke Whitelock (34 points) at eighth man. Whilst the two backrowers did go out there and impose their physicality on the Hurricanes, it was actually the Highlanders two locks Jackson Hemopo (43 points) & Tom Franklin (34 points) that did most the heavy lifting. These two having been the incredibly consistent quiet achievers all year and played a huge part in the Landers phyiscal dominance over the Canes. The Highlanders just controlled the ball & territory and just took the wind out of the incredible Hurricanes backline's sails.
Topping the fixture was Ardie Savea from the Hurricanes on 60 points. Ardie never stopped working hard throughout this one and has picked up his form at the right time in the season warranting him All Black selection. Following Ardie was the Landers back three, Waisake Naholo (58 points), 'Jet' Li (Tevita Li - 55 points) and 'Ben from accounts,' (Ben Smith - 48 points) who all benefited from hands on the ball and just a tired, battered and brusied Canes team by the ened of it. The only other players from the Hurricanes worth a mention are big front ranker Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen (46 points) with another strong showing and rewarded for staying with the play with a try and you could probably guess the other one - Beauden Barrett (42 points), who used what little possession he had wisely. He's the best player in the world for a reason!!
Blues 10 – 20 Rebels Fantasy: 518 points – 539 points
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I have to say that despite the signs, 1) the Blues woeful season to date, 2) Sonny-Bill Williams out injured and 3) the resting of franchise phenom Reiko Ioane, I still though the Blues were going to rock the Rebels. I mean they still had Akira Ioane (39 points) playing, right?!?!?!? It wasn't to be. Whilst the Rebels by no means blew the Blues off the park, they just took their few opportunities when they presented themselves, showed some great defense and executed well. Bill Meakes topped this one on 78 points, the beneficiary of two tries after being the last man left in space and not too far behind him was Dane Haylet-Petty (61 points) who also appears to be returning to form at the right time. Dane was really the attacking weapon for the Rebels in this one creating opporunties with some direct hard running and great kicking game.
Up front it was none other than Amanaki Mafi (54 points) with a standard 23 carries and Matt Philip (49 points) not far behind with a huge game and 17 carries. For mine Philip was extremely unluck to miss out on a gold jersey, he is one of the form and consistent locks in Australia. For the men from Auckland: Stephen 'Perofranchise' (Perofeta - 59 points) continues to impress with his many talents and he moved back to fullback in the second 40 with a back line reshuffle and Bryn Gatland taking over the generalship at flyhalf; journeyman Terrence Hepetema (42 points) scored a try featuring in his second game ever for the Blues and Matt Moulds (41 points) didn't have too bad a game filling in for injured Blues stalwart, James Parsons at hooker. For comprehensive Super Rugby injury information be sure to check out the Casualty Ward.
Chiefs 20 – 34 Crusaders Fantasy: 468 points – 511 points
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The Chiefs vs Crusaders is your modern day kiwi grudge match and both teams went tit for tat throughout the full 80 in this one. Whilst both teams were missing plenty of personnel to injury, they both fielded very strong sides that produced quite a few tries but ultimately this was won in the forwards. Great team efforts saw the fantasy points spread more evenly across the XV's but the Chiefs backrow youngster, Luke Jacobson (70 points - TOTW) topped this one.
Jacobson has come off some great form as Baby Blacks captain and representing Waikato and obviously did enough in the Chiefs development side to impress and gain himself a position with all these injuries. He scored two pretty similar close quarters tries in just his 5th start for the Chiefs. Definetely one to keep an eye on. Fellow Chiefs backrower, veteran and the Chiefs mana himself, Liam Messam (45 points) also stepped up and led from the front in this fixture. For the Crusaders, Richie Mo'unga (56 points) marshalled his troops well as always, Codie Taylor (53 points) in command up front and 'the finisher' George Bridge (47 points) just always finds a way to get himself involved.
Reds 41 – 52 Waratahs Fantasy: 626 points – 543 points
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Well as mentioned earlier, this was one of the games for the season for mine and it certainly produced the goods when it came to Fantasy Super Rugby. With such a high scoring affair, those that haven't watched this game might look at it and say well it was a case of two terrible Aussie defenses but it couldn't have been further. It was Australian rugby at its best and some of the best and most consistent attacking footy both sides have played in recent times. It was fast paced, running rugby and for once the skills were there!! Passes were out in front and our professional rugby players caught and held onto the ball!! It was a miracle! Michael playing Wells topped this one with a thoroughly deserved 75 points after being involved in everything and apart from Wells & young Reds sensation Jordan Petaia (55 points) who had another stellar game, it was the usual suspects showing what they can do.
Back in the staring side over Daugunu, Izaia Perese (73 points) had an absolute blinder with a try, 11 runs for 171m, 2 tackle busts, 3 offloads and 2 linebreaks! This kid doesn't know how to give any less than 110% and made some pretty spectacular offloads to create space out wide. The best fullback in the world Israel Folau (68 points) crossed the paint twice for 5 pointers and made 9 runs for 120m. Izzy doesn't know what bad form is - he only plays good or great. The reds big gun and fantasy phenom Samu Kerevi (65 points) uncharacteristically didn't bag any tries of his own but he made some strong carries & offloads as always and did have a try assist and make a great try saver. Reds captain Scott Higginbotham (63 points) was back to some of his best form and as man that knows how to score a try was getting his hands on plenty of pill in the red zone. He scored one for himself and created one for the try assist. We could keep going all day but we'll round out the mentions with Curtis Rona (51 points) and the prop on the wing Taqele Naiyaravoro (50 points) both scoring impressive tries in the corner and making some great runs throughout. Actually I lied, lastly, whilst Taqele is actually a winger, the actual prop who you'll more often than not find out on the wing, Taniela Tupou (40 points) continued to dominate all facets of his game and was rewarded with a close quarters try where he is ny impossible to keep out.
Brumbies 41 – 31 Sunwolves Fantasy: 660 points – 440 points
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We've already discussed the flying Fijian topping this one and the round on 108 points (Henry Speight), well it was another Fijian flyer next on the scoreboard, only this Fijian was playing for the Sunwolves. Former Western Force player, Semisi Masirewa (68 points) has gotten quite a few mentions from us here at the Fantasy XV Draft team throughout the 2018 season. Primarily because he is an outside back that is listed as a backrower on Fox Sports Fantasy Super Rugby. Absolute gold. Well whilst none of us think he is a particularly great player we kept suggesting he could be worth a sneaky fantasy pickup (if he was startting) in the event he finds some space or the tryline and this week he finally lived up to it. Whilst he didnt score at try, he found plenty of space, he had a try assist, 14 runs for 154m and 9 tackle busts!!
Masirewa aside it was all the Brumbies on the fantasy scoreboard in this game. Lachie McCaffrey (64 points) injected himself everywhere, he was even making kicks in play! He had a try, try assist, 3 offloads a line break and created a linebreak. Whilst Andy Muirhead (55 points) was denied a try, he still found his way over for another and was the beneficiary of being the last man through the hands with plenty of space in front of him; consequently he made 3 linebreaks and 9 runs for 85m. 4th string hooker and local Canberra boy Connal McInerney (48 points) performed admirably after suddenly finding himself running out in the 2 jersey. He made 9 tackles and got the set peice right making 17/17 lineout throws. Whilst Tom Banks didn't see all that much ball in this one, what he did, he made count with a try and try assist to his name. He was by far the most dangerous looking ball runner on the field and his incredible form as of recent has seen him get the callup to the Wallabies squad. Last players of note were Tevita Kurindrani (46 points) having another solid game after a slump in form for most of the season and scrumhalf Joe Powell (44 points) putting his men through in all the right places.