Super Rugby: Team of Round 6
Round 6 of the 2014 Super Rugby calendar brought with it a great deal of change in the Southern Hemisphere's landscape.
The Chiefs and the Sharks each saw their unbeaten starts to the season come to an end at the hands of the Western Force and Bulls, respectively, but both teams remain at the summit of their conferences nonetheless.
However, it wasn't just the big guns who featured in some drama-filled fixtures, with the New Zealand franchises, in particular, getting some big scores on the board.
Read on for a breakdown of Round 6's most impressive performers as we run through the Super Rugby team of the week.
1. Tony Woodcock, Blues
Just prior to coming off against the Cheetahs, Tony Woodcock sealed an impressive outing with a 64th-minute try, putting the Blues outside a converted try's distance of the visiting South Africans.
Nicolaas van Dyk found it nigh impossible to contend with the All Blacks veteran come scrum time, with the Cheetahs losing three of their own feeds, thanks largely to the work of the hosts' front row.
2. Stephen Moore, Brumbies
Stephen Moore's throwing was at an optimum against the Stormers, where he managed to find his target with 14 attempts, losing just one.
The Wallabies hooker was energetic in the loose and made a healthy contribution of eight tackles to the cause as his side ran out 25-15 victors.
3. Kieran Longbottom, Western Force
Western Force's 18-15 win over the Chiefs was very much a team effort that came sprinkled with a number of standout individual display, of which Kieran Longbottom's was one.
Longbottom didn't get up to much with ball in hand, carrying for just one yard, but his 13 tackles in defence were essential in restraining the Chiefs' offensive might, not to mention posing a stern test at the scrum.
4. Scott Fardy, Brumbies
Despite featuring in the No. 6 jersey more regularly of late, Scott Fardy was in triumphant form back in the second row this weekend.
From three carries, the Australian international made 14 metres, but his biggest addition came with an above-average 14 tackles.
5. Victor Matfield, Bulls
This weekend Victor Matfield made his first appearance as Bulls captain since 2011, and while he's far from the player he used to be, the 36-year-old's leading figure was a massive influence in the 23-19 win over the Sharks.
Lock partner Flip van der Merwe picked up an injury early on to destabilise the Bulls scrum, but Matfield was a beacon when it came to the line-out, carrying for a useful 25 metres, too.
6. Sam Cane, Chiefs
Sam Cane's performance against Western Force wasn't enough to secure victory for his side, and the openside switches inside this week to accommodate a member of his most recent opposition.
That being said, the up-and-coming All Black made 15 tackles, forcing three turnovers and carrying for 35 metres, not to mention making a couple of fine offloads in the process.
7. Matt Hodgson, Western Force
Very possibly the performance of the week, Matt Hodgson's values as Western Force captain have arguably never been of more use than they were in the three-point win over the Chiefs on Saturday.
The flanker was typically active in defence, making 14 tackles in total, but his greatest impact came with the two tries he managed to finish off, stepping up to the plate in all aspects just when it was most critical.
8. Duane Vermeulen, Stormers
Round 6 featured a number of impressive No. 8 displays, but Duane Vermeulen's efforts in the loss to the Brumbies gets the nod this time around.
Altogether, the Springbok beat six defenders, clocking up 72 metres with ball in hand and making 13 tackles, as well as touching down for a first-half try that, at the time, put the Stormers in front.
9. TJ Perenara, Hurricanes
It was part of a losing fight, but the Hurricanes' half-back partnership ran riot this weekend, if only slightly let down by the failures of certain others in the team.
TJ Perenara managed to play a heavy hand in the setting up of two tries for his side during the 35-31 loss to the Highlanders, making five offloads, beating two defenders and carrying for 40 metres.
10. Beauden Barrett, Hurricanes
And, of course, the other cog in that tandem was Beauden Barrett, who scored two tries in a game for the second time in the space of a week.
The fly-half's kicking brought his total points tally up to 26 for the weekend, making two clean breaks and beating six defenders along the way.
Special mention to the Queensland Reds' Quade Cooper, who scored all 20 of his team's points in their loss to the Lions.
12. Kurtley Beale, Waratahs
Kurtley Beale is back to showcasing some of his best form in Waratahs colours, which is just as well following on from last week's costly slip-up against the Brumbies.
Quick hands and equally quick feet saw the centre grab no fewer than three try assists in the 32-8 win over the Rebels.
13. Ben Smith, Highlanders
Though he again featured at full-back against the Hurricanes, Ben Smith showed some of the line-breaking potential that always makes him a versatile choice anywhere across the back line.
Only one other player (whom we'll discuss soon) managed to beat Smith's 110-metre carrying total, beating three defenders and helping set up a number of tries for his team.
11. Courtnall Skosan, Lions
Courtnall Skosan scored his second try in as many matches to give the Lions a vital victory over the Reds, which saw the South African conference hopefuls rise back into contention at the top of Super Rugby.
The winger's 77th-minute score was essential in securing a three-point margin victory for the Lions, beating three defenders along the way, but his tackling count of 12 also stood out.
14. Alofa Alofa, Waratahs
Part of a prolific Waratahs back three this week, Alofa Alofa scored his second try of the season to help give his team a comfortable win again the Rebels.
Alofa wasn't allowed to clock up many miles, but his one clean break and four beaten defenders left a telling mark on the visitors.
15. Israel Folau, Waratahs
Israel Folau extended his outrageous lead at the head of Super Rugby's scoring charts this week, raising his season tally to eight with another brace of well-taken scores.
The Waratahs star beat Ben Smith's 110-carrying metres by just four more of his own, forcing three clean breaks, beating three defenders and making six offloads as well.