With the dust having settled on Round Three of the Rugby Championship, we have gone through the action to pick the best players from the weekend.
Argentina and Australia unsurprisingly dominate the selection and have seven players apiece in the XV following their triumphs over New Zealand and South Africa respectively.
Team of the Week
15 Reece Hodge (Australia): There were some good things from his opposite number on Saturday, Damian Willemse, but there were also a few too many errors from the Springbok. In contrast, Hodge was incredibly reliable and solid at the back for the Wallabies as he played his part in their impressive victory in Adelaide. Another good outing from the utility, who never lets his country down.
14 Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina): Has been nominated in all three rounds and for good reason. Boffelli is in the form of his life and played a significant role in Argentina’s historic victory over the All Blacks. The wing just did not miss from the tee, scoring 20 of their 25 points, including the hugely important conversion following Juan Martin Gonzalez’s try. He was also very solid under the high ball and created the havoc from the restart which led to Gonzalez going over. Tom Wright was the next best but still quite a distant second.
13 Matias Moroni (Argentina): The Wallabies centres ran hard but the Argentinian midfield defended hard and duly get in ahead of the Australian duo Len Ikitau and Hunter Paisami. Since the rearguard action was the difference between them and New Zealand, Moroni, who was in the difficult 13 channel, very much deserves his place. He made fewer tackles than Orlando but marshalled the backline excellently to stop the potentially dangerous All Blacks speedsters from breaking free.
12 Matias Orlando (Argentina): Like Moroni, Orlando was mammoth in defence and completed 16 of 17 tackles attempted as the hosts struggled to breach the visiting rearguard. He was also their busiest back on attack, running for 24 metres from eight carries, with most of those in traffic. Argentina don’t have the playmaking capabilities of other teams in the midfield, but both Moroni and Orlando are very reliable and have given them real solidity.
11 Marika Koroibete (Australia): A key try-saving tackle, allied by the decisive score in the second period, sees him comfortably take this position. Despite protestations from South Africans over Paul Williams’ decision not to penalise the wing, we didn’t see any issues with the hit which prevented Makazole Mapimpi from going over and instead just saw an incredible effort from an in-form player. He then followed that up with a huge try early in the second period, stepping Handre Pollard and crossing the whitewash to extend Australia’s lead to 15-3.
10 Noah Lolesio (Australia): His performance on Saturday makes it even more bizarre that he wasn’t selected ahead of James O’Connor for the Test with Argentina two weeks prior. Having struggled at times in 2020 and 2021, Lolesio looks to have really matured this season following a solid England series and then this display in Adelaide. The fly-half kicked well, both out of hand and off the tee, against the Boks and was also a running threat, assisting the two second-half tries. Santiago Carreras was next best but just gets edged out by Lolesio.
9 Nic White (Australia): Continues his fine form with another assured display. Always takes the right options and keeps the attack flowing when the team is on the front foot. Also kicks well and, as Faf de Klerk found out, an absolute nuisance on the field. We didn’t like what White did to get De Klerk sin-binned but he’s not the first player to milk the contact and won’t be the last. He sees off the threat of Argentina’s Gonzalo Bertranou and the All Blacks’ Aaron Smith, who had a good first half before struggling after the break.
8 Pablo Matera (Argentina): In Adelaide, Rob Valetini caught the eye during the early stages of their win over South Africa while Kwagga Smith also impressed for the Boks during the latter part of that encounter, but it’s Matera who makes our team after another outstanding shift for Los Pumas. The 29-year-old was solid on attack, gaining 39 metres from nine carries and included two clean breaks. He also impressed on defence with 13 tackles made.
7 Fraser McReight (Australia): The Wallabies tearaway’s growth at Test level continues as he was one of their standout performers in that memorable triumph over the Boks in Adelaide. McReight made his mark with an excellent all-round display as he gave a good account of himself at the breakdown, put in a fine effort in attack and also shone on defence. His performance was rewarded with two well-taken tries and he edges out Argentina’s Juan Martin Gonzalez.
6 Marcos Kremer (Argentina): The Pumas had a mountain to climb against the All Blacks and their defensive effort eventually helped them to achieve that goal with the 25-year-old leading the way as he finished that match with an incredible 26 tackles made! Kremer’s dominance in contact filtered through to his team-mates and they finished with a tackle completion rate of 96%. Australia’s Jed Holloway also played well.
5 Tomas Lavanini (Argentina): Lavanini is one of Argentina’s most improved players since Michael Cheika took over the Pumas’ coaching reins and the second-row delivered one of his best Test performances in Christchurch on Saturday. Did what was expected of him in the lineouts and was a willing ball carrier but made his biggest impact on defence where he made 17 hits. Elsewhere, South Africa’s Lood de Jager caught the eye in a losing cause.
4 Matt Philip (Australia): Argentina’s Matias Alemanno and New Zealand’s Sam Whitelock are unlucky to miss out after fine displays in Christchurch but we’ve opted for Philip, who was solid in most departments against South Africa. The Wallabies second-row was at the forefront of his team’s forward effort as he did well in the lineouts but also put his body on the line in defence.
3 Tyrel Lomax (New Zealand): Although little went right for the All Blacks in Christchurch, their scrummaging was outstanding and leading the charge for the three-time world champions was Lomax, who put in a dominant display during his 45-minute stint on the field. Lomax also made his mark on defence with six tackles and comes in ahead of Allan Alaalatoa of Australia.
2 Julian Montoya (Argentina): The Pumas captain continued his fine form and after leading his team to that momentous victory over the All Blacks it’s not a surprise that he makes our team for the second successive round. Montoya shone in the execution of his core duties with his defensive shift particularly outstanding as he finished with 18 tackles made. South Africa’s Malcolm Marx was next best.
1 James Slipper (Australia): All Blacks duo Ethan de Groot and George Bower both had strong performances in Christchurch but the Wallabies’ stand-in captain gets the nod after a fine all-round performance in Adelaide. Slipper stood up well in the scrums but also caught the eye with his general play and leadership as he took the fight to the Boks’ gargantuan pack.
READ MORE: Who’s hot and who’s not: Argentina making history, Wallabies’ run over Springboks continues and back to square one for All Blacks
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