We are a couple of days away from the Rugby Europe Super Cup 2022 semi-finals, and Black Lion, Lusitanos, Castilla y León Iberians, and Tel-Aviv Heat are all in the race to become book their places in the final.
After a well-deserved break after the six rounds of pool phase action, four teams are now focused on their weekend clashes to take a step closer to lifting the (very large) trophy!
Whoever it might be, the Super Cup final four contestants will need their best players to be tuned and ready to push their side towards the golden goal of the season, and we picked four stars who are deemed to drop the beat and set the rhythm.
MANUEL CARDOSO PINTO (LUSITANOS)
Manuel Cardoso Pinto has been exceptional in this year’s edition with the winger/fullback standing at the top of a number of top stat charts:
- Most clean breaks forced with an astonishing twenty-three.
- Try-leader, as he crossed the whitewash 7 times.
- 812 meters made, more than double what Nuno Sousa Guedes (2nd place) has done.
- Fifty-two players beaten.
- Six try-assists.
The Portuguese international has been lethal from the very first second, and it is all due to a combination of superb speed acceleration power (when he slightly tilts his chin up, it’s a done deal), a joyful sidestepping technique, with plenty of tricks in the back to evade the most determined of tacklers.
Manuel Cardoso Pinto’s stats are a dangerous statement for the visiting Heat, and they’ll be wary of that they shouldn’t take their eyes off him.
SANDRO MAMAMTAVRISHVILI (BLACK LION)
The 24-year-old openside flanker is one of the most influential cogs for the Georgian Super Cup champions, mostly due to his defensive and counter-strategy qualities, as our stats show:
- Fifty-three tackles made in 6 matches, presenting a thumping 100% effectiveness.
- Joint top-turnover king, as he stole 7 balls from the opposition.
Sandro Mamamtavrishvili can be an insurmountable obstacle for any team, as he loves to be a “thorn” in his foes' attacking strategy, always on the hunt to lock not only a dominant tackle but also to quickly jump in the fray and fight for the ball.
If he is in his best form and combining well with Mikheil Gachechiladze and Luka Ivanishvili, then the Black Lion will be looking to retain the Rugby Europe Super Cup in their trophy cabinet once again.
JORDAN CHAIT (TEL-AVIV HEAT)
Tel Aviv Heat’s Jordan Chait is the type of player that reads the game better than most and was instrumental in their most recent victory against Saracens and is prepared to perform under the intense pressure of any big encounter.
Let’s look at his stats:
- Three 50/22, two of them would end up as tries for the Heat.
- 2486 meters kicked by his boot, taking the pressure off his team when needed.
- Two try-assists.
- Fifty points scored and have only missed nine conversions.
The South African nº10 is a swift unit that possesses the knowledge to outclass the opposition, be it by the rule of the boot, or by coordinating his teammates which can make the difference between victory or defeat.
KIRK TUFUGA (CASTILLA Y LEÓN IBERIANS)
Tufuga has the ability to be as sharp as the best winger but with added strength. The Iberians nº8, has been one of the best loose forwards in this 2022 edition.
- Forty-four meters won in the contact line, dragging tacklers with him until a group of players forces him to go to the ground.
- Four turnovers won.
- Thirty-five carries, winning the advantage line in twenty-three of them.
- Thirty-four tackles, and only one miss.
The Iberians continue to impress this season, and Kirk Tufuga has been one of the keys to the Spanish side's growth, especially in winning the advantage line or supplying his side’s defense with a ferocious tackler and jackler. A bulldozing threat that is going to put the Black Lion's forward pack to the test.
Well, there you have it, the Four Aces of the Rugby Europe Super Cup card deck, that will certainly take the spotlight in 2022 semifinals… but who will reach the grand final…?
You can watch both matches live on rugbyeurope.tv on Sunday.
By Francisco Isaac