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Schmidt's List: Brumbies flyer shines while Reds team also impresses: Planet Rugby

In our sixth episode of Schmidt's List, we discuss selection prospects and topics that Wallabies head coach Joe Schmidt could consider following the events of the weekend.

In the final round before the play-offs, Australia's two leading teams – the Brumbies and the Reds – were the only teams from their country to win, and several players from their ranks proved their skills to Schmidt.

Despite finishing the regular season with losses, there were players from the Melbourne Rebels, Waratahs and Western Force who also stood out and who one would hope have done enough to be considered for a call-up to the Wallabies squad.

Brumbies flyer shows that nothing beats speed

In Perth, the Brumbies faced a tough task against the Western Force, but they rose to the occasion with a 24-19 victory. The Canberra men were led by a highly-rated flyer. Corey Toole.

The 24-year-old started the Super Rugby Pacific season with a bang and was the tournament's top try scorer at the start of the season. However, he suffered an ankle injury during his team's win over the Hurricanes in Round 10 and was sidelined for several weeks.

The former Australian sevens representative returned to action in the Brumbies' round 14 win over the Rebels and, although he didn't pose any problems for the goalscorers then, he did show some nice touches in attack.

Well, that was just a warm-up for this weekend's encounter against the Force, as Toole's speed proved a real challenge for the home side on a number of occasions. Early in the first half, Toole outran the Force defence to intercept a grubber kick from Tom Wright before running away and scoring a deserved try.

And in the second half, his speed came in handy as he ran back to catch Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, who made a try-saving tackle on the home side's replacement scrum-half. In the end, Toole gained 97 metres in attack from eight runs, including two clean breaks, three beaten defenders and an offload, and his performance was a timely reminder to Schmidt that he has the potential to make the step up to international rugby.

Besides Toole, the usual stars are also there, such as Wright, Noah Lolesio, Robert Valetini And Nick Frost also stood out as a replacement for the back row Lukas Reimer made an impression as a substitute, shone in defense and won some crucial balls during the breakdown.

Reds squad shows its class

In Sydney, the Reds had to give their all to defeat their arch-rivals, the Waratahs, with several players from the Brisbane team standing out with strong individual performances.

The Wallabies flanker was led Fraser McReightwho demonstrated his sovereignty in this game with a strong performance in the breakdown and at the same time gave his all in defense to give the Reds a narrow 27:26 victory in Sydney.

The 25-year-old's ability to break down is well known and he proved to be his team's hero when he made the game-winning play after the final whistle sounded, winning a crucial possession as the Waratahs attacked in the Reds' half of the pitch.

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He also put in an outstanding defensive performance, making an incredible 27 tackles, more than any other player in Round 15 of Super Rugby Pacific.

Meanwhile, the midfield partnership of Hunter Paisami And Josh Flook showed a brilliant combination in attack and at the same time made great defensive performances.

Paisami has been one of the Reds' most consistent performers this year and is yearning for a return to the Wallabies team after two consecutive ankle injuries kept him out of the 2023 national team.

The centre-back's ability to create space for his full-backs is one of his greatest strengths – particularly in the early stages of Saturday's game when the Reds dominated. He also impressed in defence, making 14 tackles.

His centre partner Flook was not far behind with ten hits but made the biggest impact in executing his attacking duties as he completed an excellent team try and finished with a 33-metre gain from five runs.

From the other Reds, scrum half Tate McDermott and full-back Jock Campbell also had good games, with McDermott putting his stamp on the Waratahs clash, surprising his opponents with a quick penalty deep inside their 22-yard line before crossing for a try. Campbell, meanwhile, was dangerous from the back, eventually hitting a 74-metre ramp high for his team with ball in hand.

Shining lights in hopeless cases

Although the Waratahs' season ended on a depressing note with their 12th loss in 14 games played, it was not all doom and gloom as some of their players put in outstanding individual performances.

Left wing Dylan Pietsch was brilliant with the ball in hand, finishing with a match-high 131 metres from 15 runs in which he beat four defenders, and was rewarded for his efforts with a well-deserved try.

Young connector Jack Bowen and experienced scrum half Jake Gordon also had some good moments, with the former impressing with his game management, while his more experienced half-back partner provided a skilful service to his full-backs and varied his game well by involving his strikers, as Langi Gleeson And Jed Hollowayto bring into play in attack.

Gleeson gave his team some good attacking momentum, gaining 70 metres from 15 attempts, while Holloway managed 37 metres from 10 runs and also crossed the line.

Elsewhere, in Perth, the experienced full-back Kurtley Beale was once again at the forefront of the Force’s attack in the loss to the Brumbies, scoring 16 runs, while another experienced player, Nic Whitewas not far behind as he had some good moments with the ball in his hand, while Izack Rodda And Carlo Tizzano shone in the attacking game.

In Lautoka Andrew Kellaway was the bright spot for the Rebels, who came up short in most areas in their 40-19 loss to the Fijian Drua. The all-rounder played on the right wing and proved dangerous in attack, finishing with a game-high 103 metres from seven runs and also scoring a try.

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