Team of the Week: Autumn Nations Cup standouts combine
Ireland, Wales, Fiji and France are represented from the weekend's Autumn Nations Cup action, while the Gallagher Premiership's Newcastle Falcons and Tri-Nations' Argentina also have players picked within our Team of the Week
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 07/12/20 6:11pm
We pick the standout players from the weekend as Ireland, Wales and Fiji won in the Autumn Nations Cup, the Pumas and Wallabies drew, while France's youngsters shone at Twickenham...
15. Brice Dulin (France)
The most capped player on a France B team to face a full-strength England at Twickenham, Dulin proved the best player on the pitch.
The diminutive back made 14 carries for 56 metres in attack - no Frenchman made more for either statistically - while he also beat four defenders, made one turnover and scored a superb try.
It was his work under an aerial bombardment of kicking from England that was most impressive, however, as Dulin proved flawless under the high ball.
France may have lost - in highly controversial circumstances - but Dulin more than deserved to be on the winning side.
14. Keith Earls (Ireland)
Now 33, Ireland wing Earls may be entering into the twilight of his career, but the Munster back still looks as sharp and as quick as ever.
In a 31-16 victory over Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, Earls scored two of Ireland's three tries, showing his quick-wittedness to latch onto a loose ball for his first, and pace and finishing ability in the corner for his second.
Earls also made 29 metres in attack, beat one defender, cut through for two clean breaks, showed nice touches throughout and rucked strongly too.
13. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
Back into the Ireland team after an adductor injury, Henshaw was a bundle of energy in midfield as he started at outside-centre, rekindling his old Connacht partnership with Bundee Aki which clinched the 2016 PRO12 title.
The Leinster centre was a standout against Scotland, registering six tackles, six carries and a clean break in an impactful performance.
12. Toby Flood (Newcastle Falcons)
Without a game since March, newly-promoted Newcastle Falcons came into the 2020/21 Premiership season firmly on the back foot, and perhaps favourites to go straight back down.
Yet, their start has been the stuff of dreams. From three league games, they have registered three wins - and in three extremely tough fixtures no less: Bath away, Sale at home, Wasps away. That's three of last season's top five.
Pivotal to their success so far has been 35-year-old Flood, who kicked flawlessly in their 27-17 win over Wasps in Coventry, landing five from five.
11. Nemani Nadolo (Fiji)
Having retired from international duty and not played for Fiji since June 2018, Leicester Tigers' Nadolo returned in some style on Saturday, as he scored a hat-trick vs Georgia.
In addition to his treble of scores, the mammoth wing made seven carries, 40 metres with ball in hand, beat four defenders, made three clean breaks and one turnover.
The 32-year-old remains one of the most difficult men to defend against in world rugby.
10. Matthieu Jalibert (France)
Toulouse youngster Romain Ntamack may have taken a host of headlines in recent times for his quality in the France 10 shirt, but on Sunday Jalibert showed his class too.
Up against England at the home of English rugby, Jalibert was not a bit fazed as he showed up for six carries, beat four defenders, made one clean break and kicked three from three off the tee. His try assist for Dulin was sensational play.
Like Dulin, Jalibert thoroughly deserved to finish on the winning side.
9. Gareth Davies (Wales)
Davies may have started Wales' Test against Italy on Saturday as a replacement, but for his critical impact off the bench, he takes our scrum-half slot.
Emerging onto the Parc y Scarlets turf nine minutes into the second half and with Wales behind on the scoreboard, Davies would finish the Test with 56 metres in attack - only one Welshman made more.
He beat five defenders, made one clean break and showed great pace to score a vital try.
1. Peni Ravai (Fiji)
Stuck in quarantine over the last three weeks due to a Covid-19 outbreak amongst the squad, Fiji took out their frustrations with a wonderful display of attacking rugby against Georgia in the rain of Murrayfield.
Clermont loosehead Ravai was one of the stars as his 72 minutes on the park saw him make six tackles without missing any, six carries, beat five defenders in attack and form part of a front-row which earned three scrum penalties against a powerful Georgian pack.
2. Sam Parry (Wales)
If there's one area Wales have struggled in during this autumn period, it has been at the lineout.
In the absence of Ken Owens, Wales have trialled Ryan Elias and Elliot Dee at hooker, and on Saturday Ospreys' Parry made his first Test start against Italy.
In a full 80-minute display, the 28-year-old showed up strongly having made seven tackles (missing none), seven carries, two turnovers and scoring a try. While not perfect, he landed nine of 11 lineouts in a much-improved set-piece.
3. Andrew Porter (Ireland)
What an effort Ireland tighthead Porter has put in over the last six weeks. Indeed, he is perhaps the only player in the northern hemisphere to have started six Tests in successive weeks.
In the injury-enforced absence of Tadhg Furlong, Andy Farrell has stuck with Porter for each and every Test, with the 24-year-old putting in another all-action display in Dublin on Saturday, lasting some 74 minutes.
The prop made eight tackles, seven carries, one turnover, beat one defender and scrummaged strongly - again - in victory over Scotland.
4. Kilian Geraci (France)
At just 21 years of age, France and Lyon lock Geraci demonstrated his sky-high potential in defeat to England.
The second row showcased tremendous power in the face of a monster England pack, making 10 carries, one turnover and three lineout takes.
His carry in the lead up to Dulin's try within the England 22 was central to the score.
5. Marcos Kremer (Argentina)
The Pumas rounded off their Tri-Nations campaign with an entertaining 16-16 draw with Australia on Saturday, as Kremer - who was shifted from the back-row to second row - shone again.
The immensely aggressive and powerful forward has been a tackling machine over the last month, and on Saturday he was top of the charts again with 15 defensive efforts. He also made four crucial turnovers and claimed three lineouts.
6. Justin Tipuric (Wales)
Wales flanker Tipuric may now be 31, but he continues to be one of the most talented forwards in world rugby.
Against Italy in Llanelli on Saturday, he was in stunning form making 14 tackles without missing any - no Wales player made more - one turnover, 43 metres in attack off five carries, one clean break, five lineout takes, one lineout steal and beat two defenders.
He also played a part in three Wales tries: breaking, dummying and assisting Kieran Hardy's effort, playing a short inside ball to Taulupe Faletau ahead of Gareth Davies' try, and scoring a try himself in the corner.
7. Peter O'Mahony (Ireland)
Many had written O'Mahony and his Test future off coming into the autumn, but come the end of this Test window the 31-year-old back-row has played some of his best stuff in green.
Indeed, against Scotland on Saturday O'Mahony put in one of the performances of his Ireland career, finishing as the best performer on the park.
The Munster skipper was everywhere in the win, making 11 carries, 29 metres with ball in hand, seven tackles and four lineout takes.
He also beat three defenders and played a crucial role in two of Ireland's three tries: latching on to drive Cian Healy over, while showing quick hands out wide to send Earls over in the corner. O'Mahony was also a toenail away from scoring a stunning try in the corner himself.
8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
He has been through injury hell, but on Saturday Faletau returned to the sort of form which saw him tour as a Test Lion in 2013 and 2017.
The No 8 was outstanding against Italy, making 19 carries and 84 metres - both the most of anyone. He also made eight tackles without missing any, beat some eight defenders and made three clean breaks.
His combination play with Tipuric was fantastic, and he finished with two superb assists: breaking the line to find Davies, while doing the same to pass on to Tipuric. It was also Faletau who released Tipuric ahead of the Hardy try.
It is no exaggeration to say that without him, Wales may well have lost to the Azzurri.