The All Blacks machine rolled on, aided by a once in a career performance by Beauden Barrett, and with the Springboks‘ surprise loss to the Pumas in Argentina it looks as if New Zealand already have the Rugby Championship sewn up. What’s more, the Bledisloe Cup is safely back in their trophy case for another year.
Here’s our team of the week from round two with All Blacks dominating, not surprisingly, and a good sprinkling of Pumas, a few Wallabies and just one Springbok.
15. Jordie Barrett (NZ)
The youngest Barrett took his chance with some damaging running and great linking play. In all, 14 passes, 13 runs for a game high 149 metres, two clean breaks,five defenders beaten and one offload.
14. Baptist Delguy (ARG)
Scored both of the Pumas opening tries to put them on the way to a famous victory. Some quality finishing with nine runs for 64 metres including three clean breaks and no less than 10 defenders beaten.
Los Pumas' backs are superb today. Moroni giving a masterclass in centre play 🔥👍 #ARGvRSA— Paul Cully (@paulcullystuff) August 25, 2018
13. Matias Moroni (ARG)
Silken hands and superb positioning sense saw him finish with three try assists and he put in his wingers for a shared hat-trick. Elusive with ball in hand as his stats show – five runs for 51 metres, two clean breaks and two defenders beaten.
12. Ngani Laumape (NZ)
Injuries to Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty gave him his chance and the Canes midfielder took it with both hands. A headache for the defence all day, making 16 runs for 81 metres, one clean break and five defenders beaten.
11. Ben Smith (NZ)
A complete performance from the fullback/winger. Superb under the highball, his brilliant take on 12 minutes set up Beauden Barrett’s opening try. A superb 14 passes, 14 runs for 93 metres, four clean breaks, three defenders beaten and a game high four offloads.
10. Beauden Barrett (NZ)
His 30 points were the most ever scored by one player against the Wallabies in a Test, while his four tries equaled the most scored by a player against Australia in a single outing. Enough said.
9. Will Genia (AUS)
One of the Wallabies best, he made 80 passes, 10 runs for 44 metres, two clean breaks, and four defenders beaten. He made one offload and also scored one of the Wallabies’ two tries with a snipe of the scrum-base close to the line.
8. Kieran Read (NZ)
The rock on which the All Blacks forward platform is built. A game high 21 tackles snuffing out any Australian resistance before it began, good linking play with four passes plus nine runs for 36 metres and one clean break.
7. Siya Kolisi (SA)
Strong performance in a beaten side by the Bok skipper. His opening try showed speed and strength and he continued to work hard with 10 tackles, 12 runs for 75 metres, three clean breaks and seven defenders beaten.
6. Lukhan Tui (AUS)
This is a tough call with none of the blindside flankers really standing out. Tui worked hard in both defence (11 tackles) and attack (11 runs for 39 metres, two clean breaks, five defenders beaten) and conceded no penalties.
5. Guido Petti Pagadizaval (ARG)
When the Boks started to come back in the second half the Pumas had to stand tall and none stood taller than Pagadizaval. He made 15 tackles, five runs for 17 metres and nine out of 10 lineouts won.
4. Brodie Retallick (NZ)
Superb again. Did the tough stuff in tight with 11 runs from 48 metres, and 11 tackles, and won five lineouts. But it was with the ball in hand where he really excelled with an offload, two tackle busts and even a try assist for Liam Squire’s try.
3. Joe Moody (NZ)
Working has way back to his best, Moody was solid at the set piece and strong in the loose, taking his try well at the start of the second half to kill off the match. Eight tackles and four out of four at scrum time.
2. Agustin Creevy (ARG)
A herculean effort in defence as the Pumas broke a 11-match losing streak. Made a game high 18 tackles and was steady at the lineout with nine wins from 10 throws. Held the pack together at scrum time with six wins from eight.
1. Scott Sio (AUS)
The Wallabies scrum was unrecognisable to the blancmange of last week and much of that was down to Sio. Australia won 10 out of 10 scrums, earned numerous penalties and their pressure on the ABs pack led to Genia’s try.
The Rugby Football Union is leading a tackle trial in the new season as the sport examines its approaches to concussion and injury reduction.
It means that in English rugby’s second professional tier, the definition of a high tackle will be lowered from above the line of the shoulders to above the armpit line.
At a time when a number of relatively young players are being forced out of the sport early by injury, including former Wales captain Sam Warburton who retired at the age of 29, the onus is on the sport to look after the best interests of those who take the field week on week.
Watson has questioned whether the trial in the new Championship season will have the desired effect, suggesting it could cause more concussion injuries with players colliding into knees of opponents.
Sam Warburton’s three pieces of player welfare advice to the game’s authorities: 25 game limit per season, less contact training and more protection for the jackaller.— Alex Lowe (@AlexMLowe) August 25, 2018
One of the finest players of his generation had to retire at 29. The authorities should listen. https://t.co/sExK6pEOkE
The 24-year-old, currently sidelined by an Achilles injury, told the Mail on Sunday: “You don’t want to see passive tackles. I don’t think changing the nature of the game is the answer.
“What’s difficult is playing 25 plus games per year and you end up playing at 75 or 80 per cent. These things aren’t decided by the players but I’d have thought 20 games maximum is the right number.”
The Premiership season gets under way on Friday, with England stars again having loyalties to both their clubs and country.
The dual contract system employed by the likes of Wales and Ireland, that sees national associations regulate players’ game time, does not apply with England. It can make for a heavy workload, and players may feel a long-term physical impact.
“Sometimes England want one thing and your club want something else,” said Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler.
“Your club pay your wages so they’re the strong voice but you want to get picked by England.
“It’s difficult to manage without upsetting either party, so you either get caught up in the politics of it all or just go out and play. I look at the systems in Wales, Ireland or New Zealand with envy but senior people here say ‘too late, the ship has sailed’, and go back to the power of the clubs.
“Am I saying I know the right number of games? No, but I just know it should be less. I’d rather play fewer games per year, take less money and have a longer career.
“Just like I’d rather have a functioning body after rugby and less money, instead of more money and a hip replacement.”
Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, described the Springboks’ 32-19 defeat to Argentina in the second round of the Rugby Championship, on Saturday evening (UAE time) in Mendoza, as embarrassing.
One week after suffering a 34-21 defeat at the hands of the Springboks in Durban, the resurgent Pumas produced a physical performance to snap an 11-match losing streak in front of an ecstatic crowd at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, following a 27-7 lead at halftime.
Erasmus was brutally honest in his assessment of the Springboks’ poor performance: “It was embarrassing and not the kind of performance you expect to see from the Springboks.
“We made only one change to the starting team from last week, when we dominated them. We have to point the fingers to ourselves, firstly as coaches and then as players, and we will have to fix it.”
Erasmus said the travelling to Argentina was definitely not a factor: “We travelled a day later and in the second half we outplayed them because we were the fresher team.
WATCH: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus' post match interview after an overall disappointing display by South Africa against Argentina— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) August 26, 2018
Watch highlights here > https://t.co/Ykjkf8k6Fx#RugbyChampionship pic.twitter.com/ImG5UqsXp1
“We were playing better rugby in the second half but we just didn’t make use of our opportunities.
“I’m not going to look for positives after a performance like that. We have no excuses, we knew exactly what to expect, we prepared for it but we just didn’t handle it,” added Erasmus.
Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi scored his side’s only try in the first half and the Boks delivered a much better performance in the second half.
Lionel Mapoe (replacement wing) scored twice in the right-hand corner after the break for his first tries in the Bok jersey. Mapoe was an early replacement for Makazole Mapimpi, who suffered a knock to the knee.
Argentina outscored the Springboks by four tries to three, with fly-half Nicolas Sanchez instrumental, scoring 17 points courtesy of a try, three conversions, a penalty and a drop goal.
The Springboks return home on Tuesday and the squad will re-assemble on Saturday in Johannesburg, from where they will travel to Brisbane for their next fixture, on September 8 against the Wallabies in Brisbane.