The Biggest Hits in World Rugby This Week: Rugby Championship Giants Collide
Taking centre stage this week, "The Final" certainly didn't disappoint as this year's Rugby Championship was decided in epic fashion between New Zealand and South Africa.
Apart from the All Blacks' most recent triumph, however, there were tremors felt around the world over the last seven days in both hemispheres.
Cards, collisions and calamitous crashes all feature in a bumper edition of rugby's biggest hits this week.
Honourable Mention: Nick Easter Shows Gravity Who's Boss
Poor Nick Easter.
In his attempt to drop back as kicking cover this weekend, the Harlequins No. 8 was helpless but to fall victim to his Madejski Stadium surroundings, hitting the floor with decent impact.
Here's a Premiership veteran of nearly 10 years simply trying to help out his side with some quick ball, and the spectating physios won't even help enough to move the cooler they were sitting on.
Don't make Easter angry. You won't like him when he's angry.
9. Beauden Barret Hunts Down Willie Le Roux
Admittedly not the biggest of hits, per se, but this chase-back tackle from Beauden Barret ensured that New Zealand remained well on their way to a historic win at Ellis Park this weekend.
Whether with or without ball in hand, Willie le Roux is no slouch when it comes to pace, so to see Barret cover so well after starting so far in-field is certainly an encouraging sign as far as Steve Hansen is concerned.
Le Roux was called as having put a foot in touch, and the All Blacks staved off the Springboks' threat that much longer.
8. Koyamaibole Rips Castres' Defence Apart
As far as the Top 14 is concerned, there's not many other players you'd want to have running at you with momentum than Brive's Sisa Koyamaibole.
This weekend saw the Fijian tank not only score himself but also set up this assist for another home side try, setting Brive well on their way to a good win against the reigning Top 14 champions.
7. Ben Smith Puts His Body on the Line
Something as prestigious as the Rugby Championship isn't won without sharing a few bangs and bruises, a number of which Ben Smith will have following his tremendous display against the Springboks last Saturday.
With Bryan Habana and a number of other South Africans hunting him down, the winger slid to clutch this piece of possession while backtracking, but Willem Alberts wasn't keen to let him off so easily.
6. Francois Venter Crashes Through Three-Shark Defence
This weekend's clash between the Blue Bulls and Sharks was possibly the tightest seen yet in this year's Currie Cup, with only one try shared between the pair.
Even then, it took more than 60 minutes for Francois Venter to get the Blue Bulls' sole score, taking a crash ball successfully through no less than three defenders.
In the buildup to the try, one can see how three quarters of a match's worth of frustration had built up for the hosts, with some salvation finally brought about by Venter's sheer determination.
5. Gael Fickou Yellow Carded for Tackle on Hugo Bonneval
The top tier of French rugby has seen its fair share of cards over the last few weeks, and Gael Fickou ensured the trend was kept alive after this attempt to stop Stade Francais' Hugo Bonneval.
The Toulouse centre certainly succeeded in that sense, but he was unable to do so within the regulations and was given 10 minutes to think about his actions in the sin bin.
Toulouse would eventually go on to win 28-10.
4. Kieran Read Almost Decapitates Zane Kirchner
Named as man of the match for his performance in the final clash against Heyneke Meyer's Springboks, Kieran Read's quality over the last two months makes a very good case for the All Black to be named Player of the Tournament.
Imposing and physical yet extremely agile for one his size, it's hits such as this that have seen the No. 8 develop a reputation as being one of the more dangerous players in Hansen's squad.
On this occasion, it's Zane Kirchner that felt the wrath of the titan, in a high-impact collision that veered so close to illegality but was just on the right side of the law.
3. Tyler Ardron Surprise Smother on Paul Marshall
Although Ulster prevailed 18-12 in the end, Tyler Ardron won a small individual battle against the visiting scrum-half Paul Marshall this weekend.
Making the most of some sloppy line-out defence, the Canadian streams through the Ulster line with ease, blocking Marshall's attempted pass and winning possession for his side in the meantime.
2. Alex Ainley Red Carded for Tip Tackle
The only red card of last week's ITM Cup fixtures, Alex Ainley couldn't help as adrenaline overcame him for a split second in Tasman's 64-28 win over Waikato.
The Tasman lock is left looking slightly distraught as referee Mike Fraser gives him his marching orders, but there's really no case for his defence.
As if tipping Niko Malo in the air wasn't enough, Ainley not only fails to bring his opponent down safely, but rather performs a Rock Bottom on the helpless centre.
1. Filo Paulo Crunching Hit on Westhuizen
Quick, concise and frighteningly powerful, this week's No. 1 hit, courtesy of the Blues' Filo Paulo, was everything that a top-class tackle needs to be.
Taking a slight run-up out of his defensive line, the 25-year-old New Zealander sends the not-so-small Izak van der Westhuizen crashing to the ground, dispossessing the Edinburgh lock in the process.
Westhuizen was unsurprisingly left to think about what just happened for a couple of second following the hit, but he won't want to remember the scene in a hurry.
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