Seven New Zealand players make the cut in this week’s nswrl.com.au Intrust Super Premiership Team of the Week.
1 – Will Smith (Penrith Panthers)
The Panthers’ chances were vastly improved in the lead-up to their clash with the Bears with the return of 23-year-old Smith at fullback. As Penrith demolished North Sydney, their custodian made the most of the platform laid by their big men and flourished in the extreme heat, scoring a late try and getting involved in several attacking plays.
2 – Honeti Tuha (Wentworthville Magpies)
Wentworthville’s stocky winger turned nothing into something in his side’s win over Manly, scooping up an offload to step past the defence and go over basically untouched. As usual, Tuha was heavily involved and took several hit-ups early in the Magpies’ sets, proving to be a key addition this year at Ringrose Park. Similarly, his departure from the Newcastle Knights has left a noticeable void so far in the season.
3 – Jordan Drew (Newtown Jets)
Drew featured heavily in the Jets’ narrow victory over the Knights, scoring a hat-trick in Cessnock. The 21-year-old burst out of the blocks to score a double in just 16 minutes – the first with a great show of strength and the second in a well-executed set play – before a third put the result beyond doubt in the second half.
4 – Matthew Allwood (New Zealand Warriors)
Allwood impressed in his two-try performance, the first coming from a precise offload from Ata Hingano and the second displaying his footwork in broken play as the Warriors ran rampant at Leichhardt Oval. In a brilliant New Zealand backline also featuring a dangerous Konrad Hurrell, Allwood was the standout.
5 – Kalifa Faifai Loa (Illawarra Cutters)
Faifai Loa was a key part of the Cutters’ second-straight victory, scoring a double which could have been a hat-trick. The former Cowboys and Titans winger was ruled to have gone into touch in what would have been his first, but scored two from sliding set plays later in the game. The 26-year-old emerges as yet another quality backline option at the Dragons.
6 – Josh Cleeland (Newtown Jets)
Cleeland was solid in Cessnock and, with halves partner Fa’amanu Brown, steered his side around the park well. It was a grounded Brown pass, regathered by Cleeland, which allowed the five-eighth to score under the posts as the Jets shut out the Knights.
7 – Ata Hingano (New Zealand Warriors, Captain)
The Warriors’ clash with the Wests Tigers featured a dominant display from their halfback, who was in control the entire game. Hingano sent Allwood over to open the scoring and was heavily involved as the Warriors ran in eight tries, also setting up Ali Lauitiiti to go with his six goals in the victory.
8 – Albert Vete (New Zealand Warriors)
It was a hard slog in the heat for forwards in all of Saturday’s matches, but Vete showed no signs of exhaustion. The 23-year-old played 21 NRL matches last year and looks to have maintained that level in 2016 with some barnstorming runs and strong tackles. Vete scored the final try of the match for his efforts.
9 – Zach Dockar-Clay (Penrith Panthers – second appearance)
Penrith’s captain and hooker is one of just two Team Of The Week incumbents to feature again in Round 2, having taken control of his side in their seven-tries-to-two victory. Dockar-Clay was overlooked for the vacant NRL hooking role in favour of Tyrone Peachey, but with another impressive performance he continues to push his case. The former Junior Kiwis representative laid on a superb try to Andy Saunders and was solid with and without the football.
10 – Kelepi Tanginoa (Wentworthville Magpies)
Tanginoa was an attacking weapon on Sunday afternoon, with an offload game that the Sea Eagles couldn’t contain. He first set up John Folau to score, before a grounded offload eventually found Tuha, who broke through for another. After a stint at the Cowboys in 2015, Tanginoa returns to Wentworthville and hopes to add to his 13 games for the Eels this season.
11 – Ali Lauitiiti (New Zealand Warriors)
Unlucky to not make the Team Of The Week in his comeback game in Round 1, Lauitiiti proved that age is just a number with some barnstorming runs, bone-rattling tackles and slick attacking plays. The Warriors legend exploited an overlap to score his first, before a 60-metre line-break almost earned him a second. The 36-year-old also passed to Allwood to score in an outstanding all-round performance.
12 – Jai Ingram (Wyong Roos)
In the Fox Sports Match of the Round, Ingram was a deserved Man of the Match with two nice four-pointers. The first came from an individual effort on the pack of a Luke Garner run, before a perfectly-weighted Tyler Cornish grubber found Ingram for his second. The powerful second-rower was great in support play and defended well as the Roos notched up their first win of the season.
13 – Jarrad Kennedy (Mounties – second appearance)
Kennedy makes his way into the Team Of The Week for a second time, this week elevated to the starting line-up. Playing alongside brothers Rhys and Mitch for the first time, Jarrad stood out and was impressive with and without the football. Kennedy combined well with Sisa Waqa for a nice Eddie Aiono try as Mounties went down in a heartbreaking loss to Wyong.
14 – Tyler Cornish (Wyong Roos)
The Goulburn Stockmen junior was instrumental following the departure of Roos captain Mitch Williams, who was ruled out early with a concussion. Cornish took the reins and directed the team around the park nicely, capping it off by setting up Ingram at a crucial point of the match.
15 – Upu Poching (New Zealand Warriors)
Like Vete, Poching was solid in the front row for the Warriors in conditions that might have been especially difficult for the New Zealand team. He never stopped trying as Hingano made the most of the forward pack’s work.
16 – Daniel Alvaro (Wentworthville Magpies)
Starting for the Magpies in jersey no.20, boom second-rower Alvaro cracked the line of defence to score during the defeat of the Sea Eagles. He was a key addition as Wentworthville kept Manly scoreless for 80 minutes at Ringrose Park.
17 – Leilani Latu (Penrith Panthers)
Like Smith, Latu was another late inclusion who benefitted the Panthers greatly, with a strong performance that allowed the side to dominate the Bears up the middle. The starting prop showed great fitness in the high temperatures and scored a late try for his efforts.
Story by nswrl.com.au