As Round 5 ended, Lusitanos, Castilla y León Iberians, and Black Lion have already booked their semifinals tickets, leaving just one spot open with one weekend of the pool stage remaining.
So, who stepped up this past weekend?
HOT STATS OF THE ROUND
- Three players scored hat-tricks in this 5th round, with Manuel Cardoso Pinto rising to the top of the try-scorers’ table (7 tries).
- Champions Black Lion have achieved their biggest all-time win in the Super Cup (a 43 margin).
- Nuno Sousa Guedes 40 points (3 tries, 11 conversions and 1 penalty) contribution to the Lusitanos 95-00 win is also an all-time max point in a single match by one player.
REUBEN DU PLOOY (IBERIANS)
How many times do you get to see a lock scoring a hat-trick? It's the beauty of this Super Cup competition, where props swan dive, fullbacks can turnover a ball in the breakdown or a scrum-half can drive a maul forward, and lock Reuben Du Plooy's three tries were just a joy to behold.
The Iberians faced an intense first-half thanks to Delta's late reply that almost leveled the score, adding doubt about who would come on top after coming back from the half time break.
What happened in the 2nd half was the Iberians impressive forwards pack, bringing their very best to the pitch that would lead to almost total control of the flow of the game, and Du Plooy's action was key by stealing lineouts, successfully crashing the advantage line, supplying his side with that physicality that raises the stakes and pushes them closer to victory. A powerful and witty lock can be that decisive musical note that makes a rugby orchestra reach a sweet tune.
MANUEL CARDOSO PINTO (LUSITANOS)
Before you start reading this entry, please watch Manuel Cardoso Pinto's first try of the Lusitanos 95-00 win against the Brussels Devils. If you look closely, you can see the winger raising his chin as he goes faster, like that little physical detail can change his aerodynamic ability, leaving those who try to catch him in their wake. The Portuguese international was just incredible in every run and carry, breaking the line six times and leaving twelve Devils players on the ground (literally it happened twice), pulling no stops to help the Lusitanos to a dominant win.
An real entertainer, Manuel Cardoso Pinto combined with Nuno Sousa Guedes (notched also a hat-trick, nine conversions, and three assists) and Jerónimo Portela, raises the threat level to the ceiling: unpredictability, pure joy, non-ending speed, and ludicrous handling skills can once again sum up this performance.
PECELI NACEBE (TEL-AVIV HEAT)
Paceli Nacebe was instrumental in his side's second try, as the winger caught a physics-defying kick from Jordan Chait to dot down the ball in what seemed an impossible move.
Yes, you can say that type of action is expected from the modern try-finisher, but it isn't just "that" ability that makes Peceli Nacebe such a spectacular unit, it's everything else, from the tempo and speed he brings added with the pure bumper power that shrugs off most tacklers.
If you have any doubts, just see his numbers in the close encounter against RC Batumi: two clean-breaks, seven defenders beaten, three tackle-busts, more than 80 meters carried, and one try.
Also, there's one more key detail to why we picked him: Peceli Nacebi didn't stick only to his role of winger, as he appeared in all field zones, trying to surprise the opposition at each new attacking phase. What a brilliant game-changer the Heat has in him.
LUKA MATKAVA (BLACK LION)
The Black Lion are through to the semifinals, as they bounced back from last week's defeat with a win in Bucharest, defeating the home side by 49-06, and first five-eight Luka Matkava slotted 9 kicks out of 10, assisted for two tries.
A team, club, franchise, or country that wants to win competitions must have an excellent kicker, as those precious two or three points can mean the difference between winning or losing, and Matkava supplies the Black Lion side with that X-factor and expect him to become a regular in his national side very soon.
The number 10 was class whenever he was needed, be it by converting points, creating good attacking moves, or simply applying calm to the backline, without losing focus or sight of their goal.
So, be warned to all teams who play against the Black Lion: don’t concede penalties, or Luka Matkava will transform them into points.
By Francisco Isaac