Faf de Klerk and Richie Mo'unga headline our Rugby Championship Team of the Week

Alex Broun 17:10 07/10/2018
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Faf de Klerk had the ball on a string

A thrilling final round of the Rugby Championship with the All Blacks and Wallabies coming back from the dead to record famous victories in Pretoria and Salta respectively.

New Zealand were 17 points down with 18 minutes to go against the Springboks but still found a way to win 32-30 while Australia were in an even deeper hole when 31-7 down at half-time before scoring five second half tries to record a stunning 45-34 victory.

The Wallabies lead our selections with six players, while the All Blacks and Boks both have four apiece. The fast fading Pumas have just one player selected – mobile flanker Pablo Matera.

Also showing the importance of the bench, two of our XV were second half substitutes but still did enough during their time on the field to get the nod.

1. Steven Kitshoff (SA)

Surprisingly good ball skills for a big man and he played a key role in several of the Boks tries with smooth linking work, six passes in all as well as five runs for 14 metres. Proved crucial at the scrum where the Boks won four scrums out of four.

Steven Kitshoff was outstanding against the All Blacks

Steven Kitshoff was outstanding against the All Blacks

2. Tolu Latu (Aus)

A controversial pick as he only came on at half-time and was sin-binned on 77 minutes, but in the 36 minutes he was on the field he changed the match with a huge presence in attack and defence. Set up a try for Folau and threw straight for five lineout wins. Mystery he doesn’t get more game time.

3. Owen Franks (NZ)

The All Blacks needed all of the veteran Crusaders strength and guile to hold back a rampant Boks’ pack at scrum time. New Zealand held firm to win nine scrums from nine with Franks not conceding a single penalty. He also worked hard in defence with nine tackles and just two misses.

4. Adam Coleman (Aus)

Very close with Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert knocking loudly on the door but the big Wallaby gets it thanks to his strong all-round game: three lineout wins, six passes, 11 take-ups for 18 metres, one defender beaten and even an offload. Contributed well in defence with 11 tackles and just three misses.

5. Scott Barrett (NZ)

A poor night for the All Blacks pack as they were outplayed physically for long sections of the game. But Barrett never gave up making 12 tackles and six runs for five metres. He also made a crucial 12 tackles and won five lineouts.

6. Michael Hooper (Aus)

Inspirational performance by the Australian captain in the second half, busy presence at the breakdown and a real threat in attack – seven passes, seven runs for 55 metres, two clean breaks and four defenders beaten, also made 13 tackles with two misses.

7. Pablo Matera (Arg)

Like the rest of the Pumas, the 25-year-old faded badly in the second half but was superb in the first period with a contender for try of the round in just the second minute as he burst through the Wallabies defence and ran round Will Genia. 12 rounds for 56 metres.

David Pocock leaps over a defender during the clash with Argentina in Salta - Michael Hooper is in close support

David Pocock leaps over a defender during the clash with Argentina in Salta – Michael Hooper is in close support

8. David Pocock (Aus)

Despite his team’s woeful first half performance the Wallabies No8 put in an eighty minute effort, with 18 tackles and just one miss. But its in attack where Pocock is really coming in to his own – 10 passes, 13 runs for 48 metres, two clean breaks, three defenders beaten and two offloads.

9. Faf de Klerk (SA) (PLAYER OF THE ROUND)

The blonde haired scrum-half was at the centre of everything good the Boks did and his substitution on 73 minutes changed the course of the match. Superb kicking game and he had the ball on a string all night. 61 passes and seven runs for 10 metres.

10. Richie Mo’unga (NZ)

Came on at 52nd minute mark with the All Blacks 23-6 down, managed the game beautifully to steer New Zealand to a famous victory, including the 60-metre touch finder to set up the winning try.

11. Rieko Ioane (NZ)

A quiet night for the Auckland man but still came up with a crucial try to spark the All Blacks revival on 62 minutes. Six runs for 48 metres, two clean breaks and three defenders beaten and also made eight tackles with two misses.

12. Damian de Allende (SA)

Combined superbly with his centre partner making metres at will every time he had the ball. Charged through some flimsy defence for the Boks third try. 12 runs for 54 metres, one clean break, five defenders beaten and an offload.

Jesse Kriel powers away to score the game's first try

Jesse Kriel powers away to score against the All Blacks

13. Jesse Kriel (SA)

Terrorised the All Blacks defence out wide, slicing through for the game’s opening try on 44 minutes. Seven runs for 66 metres, two clean breaks and two defenders beaten, also tidy in defence with three tackles and no misses

14. Israel Folau (Aus)

Not back to his best but there were encouraging signs as he cut through to score a try on 48 minutes to continue the Wallabies resurgence. Eight runs for 83 metres with three clean breaks, eight defenders beaten and one offload.

15. Dane Haylett-Petty (Aus)

Scored two second half tries to cap a strong all round game as the Wallabies came from 24 points down to snatch a miraculous victory. 125 metres made in attack with three clean breaks and four defenders beaten.

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