Rugby Championship: Team of the week from round two
By Keith Moore
Last Updated: 28/07/15 6:31pm
With the Rugby Championship now down to a decider between Australia and New Zealand, we take a look at which players out-performed their peers in round rwo of the competition.
It was a less than perfect win for the Wallabies in Argentina, but at Ellis Park we were treated to yet another classic from the Springboks and All Blacks.
But which of them made our team of the week?
15. Israel Folau
Without doubt the star performer in the Wallabies team. Even when he has a relatively quiet day he shreds opposition defences. In the opening try against Argentina it was Folau who took a deep kick from Nicolas Sanchez, ran a good angle and created one of the simple tries of the game with basic draw and pass. It wasn't his most dazzling performance, but proof that good players create points from nothing.
14. Ben Smith
The Highlanders outside back wasn't his inspiring best on Saturday, but still managed to impress. With Piutau starring, Smith managed the second most metres in the New Zealand team and scored a vital try on the stroke of half-time. Granted he had less to do than Lima Sopoaga in the build up to it, but he thanked his franchise team-mate by running the try in near the poles. Another solid day at the office for one of the All Blacks' star performers.
13. Jesse Kriel
Kriel has only played two Tests for South Africa but has already surfaced as an incredibly talented No 13. Playing one of the most difficult positions from which to defend, Kriel put in a good shift without the ball at Ellis Park, but also scored for the home side. His try came after he ran a brilliant line between the most experienced centre pairings of world rugby. One to watch for the future.
12. Damian de Allende
De Allende showed that South Afica's midfield does have a future when Jean de Villiers retires, and made a nuisance of himself against a highly-experienced midfield. Rarely was the Stormers centre tackled at the first time of asking, which led to gaps out wide which could be exploited by South Africa's outside backs. He also displayed a cunning sidestep to go with his power, and troubled Ma'a Nonu all day.
11. Charles Piutau
How many wingers in New Zealand need to get injured before we see an average one? With Waisake Naholo out of the World Cup and the same fate suffered by Cory Jane - as well as a certain Julia Savea missing from the side - the All Blacks appear to lose nothing on either touchline. It was a man of the match performance and deservedly so against South Africa, as Piutau made his bid for a starting place at this year's World Cup.
10. Lima Sopoaga
Sopoaga is only 24 years old and made his debut in arguably the hardest arena for an All Black to succeed, and he passed with flying colours. A superb run inside Ma'a Nonu and a deft pass over the defence to Ben Smith showed vision as well as composure. Fly-half is not an area where the All Blacks are struggling, but they have the right kind of selection issues with only two games remaining before the World Cup.
9. Aaron Smith
It was a livewire performance from the All Blacks half-back. With the pace frenzied in Johannesburg between the two best sides in the world, the tone was set by the halves. Smith outshone his opposite number on the day, with Ruan Pienaar one of the weaker exponents of the South African backline.
Though it was a forward's try that sealed it for the All Blacks it was the effects of a high-tempo game that led to the break in concentration at the end of the game. That fatigue was capitalised on by skipper Richie McCaw, but was brought about by the quick service of Smith.
8. Kieran Read
If New Zealand have a perceived weakness against the Springboks it is in the forwards, and with South Africa boasting a long line of talented loose forwards it is the back row that often has the hardest task.
Schalk Burger put in a captain's shift in the loose and with ball in hand and was close to taking the No 8 jersey in our team of the week, but the New Zealand lineout outshone that of their hosts and the All Blacks were forced to defend relentless periods of sustained pressure, which they did successfully.
With that in mind, and the fact that Read made the most tackles and won the most lineouts of all the visitors on the day, he gets the nod.
7. David Pocock
Nobody made more tackles than Pocock in the second round of competition and he was tied in second for the most offloads and turnovers won. With a fierce battle brewing down under for the No 7 jersey at this year's World Cup, the Brumbies' classy flanker did his chances no harm with a good turnout in Argentina.
And with Hooper drawing the attention of the citing commissioner after the Mendoza encounter, Pocock may have a clear run at the line. His battle with Richie McCaw when the Wallabies play the All Blacks will be a bruising affair.
6. Liam Messam
Blindside flanker is one of the most thankless tasks, and in rugby terms is the epitome of the saying: ‘If you do your job well, nobody will notice.' In a tough game in trying conditions against one of the most physical packs in world rugby, New Zealand forward Messam did all the thankless tasks asked of him in Johannesburg.
5. Lood de Jager
When Victor Matfield hobbled off the pitch early in the Test against the Wallabies there was cause for concern, but not from De Jager. The 22-year-old came off the bench and showcased maturity beyond his relative experience.
Against the All Blacks he played even better, displaying all the traits of a modern lock while taking the responsibility of calling South Africa’s lineouts. Another of South Africa’s rising stars.
4. Dean Mumm
Could this be one of the great rugby comebacks? Mumm came on as a sub but impressed. His surge in form has seen him back in Wallaby colours and his try against Argentina betrayed the number on his back as he saw off a large chunk of the Argentine population to score for Australia.
With James Horwill out of favour, Mumm has a chance to assert himself as a senior member of the Wallabies pack in the World Cup.
3. Jannie du Plessis
Du Plessis produced a performance to answer his critics in South Africa's 27-20 defeat to New Zealand. He displayed great scrummaging against a tough All Black pack and the 32-year-old is maturing with age like all good tight-heads. Du Plessis even won his side a penalty at the breakdown with a steal.
2. Bismarck du Plessis
South Africa’s fourth loose forward. Bismarck du Plessis takes his place in the No 2 jersey thanks to his unrivalled work at the breakdown. The 31-year-old secured more turnovers than any other Springbok at Ellis Park. However, Dane Coles’ phenomenal try and tackle count - he was third in the list of All Black tacklers - almost stole Du Plessis' spot in the team.
1. Marcos Ayerza
Saturday’s game saw another good scrummaging performance from the Pumas, led by their loose-head Ayerza. Admittedly this effort came against a struggling Wallabies pack but against New Zealand the Argentine was equally as invasive in the set piece and ensured throughout that the All Blacks were made to work for the ball.
A mention must go to Beast Mtawarira, who came close to making the side with a good amount of ball carrying around Ellis Park.