RUCK’s team of the week: Foley, Savea, Etzebeth, Baldwin
- Matt Giteau, Bernard Foley, Scott Sio and David Pocock from the Wallabies make our starting XV
- New Zealand pair Julian Savea and Waisake Naholo occupy two wing positions
- Springboks Jesse Kriel and Eben Etzebeth earn spots
- Welsh forwards Alun Wyn Jones and Scott Baldwin are in the pack
Another thrilling week of Rugby World Cup action saw England humiliated by Australia at Twickenham with the loss meaning Stuart Lancaster’s men are the first primary hosts of a tournament not to reach the final eight.
Wales won again against Georgia while New Zealand and South Africa continued to prepare for the knockout stages with wins against Georgia and Scotland respectively.
Ireland set up a grandstand finish with France in Pool D with their narrow win against Italy while although Tonga lost to Argentina on Sunday they put in a great effort to beat Namibia in mid-week.
But who were the stand-out performers? After much debate here is our final selection – do you agree?
FULLBACK – Israel Folau (Australia)
The former Rugby League man had one of his greatest games for Australia, making his opposite number Mike Brown’s evening hellish. The 26-year-old, who is one of the most exciting talents in the modern game, was a constant threat throughout with his dynamic running.
WING- Julian Savea (New Zealand)
Three tries, four clean breaks and 85m gained made it an active 80 for the wing against Georgia on Friday night. Savea, who now has 35 tries in 38 appearances for the All Blacks, has a phenomenal strike rate and will be somebody to watch once we reach the knockout stages.
CENTRE- Jesse Kriel (South Africa)
Since making his Springbok debut during the Rugby Championship in the summer, the centre has established himself as one of the finest young talents in the modern game. Against Scotland, although he didn’t get the ball as much as he would have liked the youngster still displayed that he is incredibly skilled with the ball in hand. Kriel also showed he is willing to do the dirty work in defence with some big tackles.
CENTRE- Matt Giteau (Australia)
The centre justified his return from international exile by quietly going about his business in the midfield to bring Australia’s tremendously talented back three into the game. The 33-year-old then capped his silky performance by slicing through the English defence to dive over for the try that sealed the Wallabies win and England’s fate.
WING- Waisake Naholo (New Zealand)
The winger made a magical return from a broken leg when he scored from his first touch with a dazzling run in from around halfway after just 73 seconds against Georgia. Overall he put in a good display but enough to unseat the in-form Nehe Milner-Skudder? Doubtful.
FLY-HALF- Bernard Foley (Australia)
The fly-half was considered a steady choice in comparison to Quade Cooper, but his selection proved to be a masterstroke as the number 10 put in a performance that will live long in the memory of Wallabies supporters. His two mesmerising tries, three conversions and four penalties saw him score an astonishing 28 points, which set a new individual record for an Australia player in this fixture at Twickenham. He will be instrumental if the Wallabies are going to win their third Webb Ellis Cup.
SCRUM-HALF- Gareth Davies (Wales)
If Davies try against England had boosted the international rookie’s confidence it must be rocketing after he got on the scoresheet again, bamboozling the Fiji to open the try-scoring. The scrum-half was only denied a second after the break by some last-ditch tackles Fiji defence. The playmaker’s performances so far in the tournament have confirmed exactly why Warren Gatland was confident despite losing Rhys Webb that Wales could compete.
PROP- Scott Sio (Australia)
Another solid display from the loose-head, helping further dispel the myth that Australia are a touch soft when it comes to the scrum by dominating England throughout at Twickenham on Saturday. He also managed to outfight the mighty Dan Cole with minimum strain.
HOOKER- Scott Baldwin (Wales)
The hooker was Wales’ best forward in the loose while also throwing accurately to the line-out. He also got on the scoresheet with a great finish. The scrum also got obviously weaker once he was replaced with 25 minutes remaining.
PROP- Kensuke Hatakeyama (Japan)
The prop put in another robust display to ensure Japan controlled the set piece during their win against Samoa. His efforts at the breakdown, as well as his ability to carry the ball over the gain line, cannot be undervalued.
LOCK- Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
The lock oozed aggression right from the kick-off to even bully Scotland at times while also dominating in the lineout. The 23-year-old man mountain also displayed bits of deft handwork as well an ability to link up the play with some nice little passes.
LOCK- Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
Along with his Ospreys teammate Baldwin, the lock led the Welsh forward effort with his commitment and running power. Although he was obviously still tired from his exploits against England, he still put in a performance of the highest order.
FLANKER- Peter O’Mahony (Ireland)
Although it was not his greatest performance in the emerald green shirt the flankers last ditch try-saving tackle on Joshua Furno helped retain the lead for Joe Schmidt’s men when they were being put under significant pressure from the Azzurri. Italy’s talismanic captain Sergio Parisse even said, ” If we had scored that try, we could have pushed Ireland, and the game could have taken a different direction.”
FLANKER- Jack Ram (Tonga)
The powerful flanker had a mammoth of a game for Tonga against Namibia in mid-week, showing fantastic skill and rugby intelligence to score two tries for the Tongans while also dominating in defence against his opposite number.
NUMBER 8- David Pocock (Australia)
The flanker who has been filling in at number 8 was an integral part of a dominant visiting back row, winning three massive turnovers. Apart from his jackling, Pocock slowed England at the breakdown and put in some huge hits throughout the field. Although he would not be known as a proficient ball carrier, Pocock also brought the ball over the gain line on four occasions. His value to this Wallabies side cannot be underestimated.