RUCK’s team of the week: Biggar, Hogg, Cordero, Pocock
Another thrilling week of Rugby World Cup action saw the hosts England narrowly lose to Wales at Twickenham.
Scotland and Australia opened their campaigns with two wins while Argentina recovered from their opening weekend loss to the All Blacks by crushing Georgia.
Ireland and New Zealand also made it back-to-back victory’s with successes against Romania and Namibia respectively.
Elsewhere, South Africa recovered from their loss to Japan by crushing Samoa.
But who were the stand-out performers? After much debate here is our final selection – do you agree?
15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
The all-action full-back was everywhere for Scotland in two tough tests against Japan and the USA. He particularly shone against the Eagles, scoring a long-range penalty to level the match up early on, and he made two clean breaks, with Visser unlucky not to finish off a gloriously created chance. Hogg also made 58 metres, two offloads, and was a threat all afternoon for the spirited Scots.
14 Nehe Milner-Skudder (New Zealand)
Zig-zagging Milner Skudder was a thorn in Namibia’s side all evening long with his ambitious running, nimble feet and great finishing. The winger dived over for two tries of his own as well as producing a fine offload to set up one for hooker Codie Taylor. He has probably been the most exciting player in the tournament so far.
13 Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand)
The only player to retain his place from last week’s team of the week is centre Williams, although we’ve had to switch him slightly out of position to occupy him. The multi-sport star continued his strong form against Namibia in the opening half before making way for Ma’a Nonu. A fabulous offload to send over Malakai Fekitoa as well as being heavily involved in the lead-up to Vito’s opening try made him once again a standout performer.
12 Jamie Roberts (Wales)
The centre was an unsung hero for Wales. Burgess ruthlessly used him as a tackle bag during a brutal first period, but his ferocious appetite for action saw him admirably keep going back for more. Somehow still able to walk after an exhausting shift. Heroic and could have taken the Man of the Match award on another night.
11 Santiago Cordero (Argentina)
The 21-year-old wing looked lively throughout the Pumas win against Georgia, but really came into this own in the second half. Cordero’s speed and agility enabled him to perform some brilliantly improvised evasive action, that allowed him to gallop toward the try line and touch down on two occasions. Expect him to work his magic once more against Tonga in the next round.
10 Dan Biggar (Wales)
The fly-half was quite simply magnificent in Wales narrow win against England. With eight goals from eight, his points haul was crucial, but his overall performance was nothing short of brilliant – when the chips were down for the visitors, he stood up and guided his battered and bruised teammates over the line. The undoubted Man of the Match.
9 Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)
The Scotland scrum-half, Captain, and goalkicker was almost immaculate from the tee as he accumulated 26 against Japan and USA respectively. The 29-year-olds leadership and performance’s oozed class as the playmaker managed to keep Scotland’s attack moving forward at real pace by quickly recycling the ball throughout in both games.
1 Cian Healy (Ireland)
Starting his first match since the Six Nations against Romania, Healy was strong in the scrum and reached the gain line a lot for a front row. He Looked shattered by 50 minutes and correctly was replaced but we saw flashes of why he is considered one of the best props in world rugby.
2 Richardt Strauss (Ireland)
His presence at the breakdown combined with his near-perfect line-out throwing was unreal for Ireland as they comfortably overcame Romania. This display will definetely put real pressure on Sean Cronin as the pair battle it out for the number 2 shirt on a regular basis.
3 Charlie Faumuina (New Zealand)
The powerful prop reinforced why he was selected in Steve Hansen’s squad despite little game-time leading into the World Cup. He was dominant at the scrum and heavily involved at the breakdown as the All Blacks bullied Namibia.
4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
The towering second-row oozed aggression from start to finish as the Springboks bounced back to thrash Samoa. He maintained his composure throughout and aided Victor Matfield in ensuring lineout angst for the opposition. He also showed off his excellent carrying skills on occasion.
5 Alun Wyn-Jones (Wales)
Jones was a colossus throughout againsy England and rose to the occasion like few other players do. Produced an excellent 80-minute defensive performance in the middle as his leadership qualities came to the fore.
6 Francesco Minto (Italy)
Italy made an incredible 142 tackles during their narrow victory over Canada, which highlights the fact that they were on the back foot for much of it. No man made more than Francesco Minto, with the back rower completing 15 takedowns in a hotly contested encounter. Minto had a remarkable tackle success rate of 97% and was key to halting several dangerous Canadian attacks.
7 Sean McMahon (Australia)
Young back-row Sean McMahon was one of a trio of players to score two tries for the Wallabies against Uruguay. The 21-year-old made a case for himself to start against England next Saturday, as he was immense in both attack and defence. The Melbourne Rebels flanker beat five defenders, made five carries over the gainline and completed nine big tackles. He also now possesses a strike rate of three tries in five internationals, which is remarkable for a forward.
8 David Pocock (Australia)
The number 8’s two tries against Fiji were enough to separate the sides in the end, as the lauded back row marked the occasion of his 51st cap with his fifth and sixth international tries. The forward found his team’s scrum matched for much of the game, but both he and Michael Hooper were monumental in defence, making 38 tackles between them. In attack, Pocock twice peeled off the back of a rolling maul to crash over for five vital points.