1. Ox Nche (South Africa)
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho (New Zealand)
3. Vincent Koch (South Africa)
Onto the front-row now, with the most talked about area of South Africa’s game taking the lead in our picks. The tried-and-trademarked ‘Bomb Squad’ were at their explosive best against England, with Ox Nche running out a Man of the Match performance on the South African loose-head. The match was won at the scrum, with Nche an influential pillar in the eventual turning of the tide.
England did their best to combat the ‘Boks squad depth, yet Borthwick’s replacements could not fire back to match the relentless tempo shift that Nche and Vincent Koch brought to the front row. Koch was key in South Africa’s overall win, as the tight-head imposed his power-game on Ellis Genge, who’s knee struck the deck in front of referee Ben O’Keefe, which led to Pollard’s decisive penalty.
In between the Springbok props is All Blacks replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho. The front rower is eager to shift the replacement asterisk from his role, and re-gain his spot as the All Blacks leading hooker. An impressive 25 minute run-out saw Taukei’aho empty the tank, with sprinting carries and well worked set-pieces. One overthrown line-out was a blemish on his record, yet his positional rival Codie Taylor also had an uncharacteristically slower day at the line-out.
4. RG Snyman (South Africa)
5. George Martin (England)
Packing down the scrum in our Team of the Semi-Finals, are two players that don’t often star in the spotlight, but had key contributions in the England vs South Africa clash. Starting with RG Snyman, the replacement lock was called into action after just 45 minutes, and took over from Eben Etzebeth who had lost the arm-wrestle with Maro Itoje. Snyman imposed his physicality from the get-go, and scored his 70th minute try to drag the Springboks back for their comeback victory.
Opposing Snyman was George Martin, who had a stunning shift in the row. Martin was called upon by Borthwick over regular starting lock Ollie Chessum, to utilise his added size and tackling power against the Springboks, to which he did to a significant extent. Of course, Martin was on the losing side of the score-line, but his nine tackles and tireless breakdown work-rate, saw him through his scrum cap into the mix for future England starts.
6. Shannon Frizzell (New Zealand)
7. Sam Cane (New Zealand)
8. Facundo Isa (Argentina)
Wrapping up the starting XV with the back-row, we have selected two All Blacks and one solitary Puma. Shannon Frizzell and Sam Cane occupy the flanks, whilst Facundo Isa keeps the Argentine flag flying as the sole member of Michael Cheika’s side in our starting team. Frizzell was quick over the ball in defence, with key turnovers stopping any go-forward that the Argentina backs tried to create.
Frizzell added two tries to the ever-growing All Blacks points tally, with a simple score before the break following the quick hands of Richie Mo’unga. His second saw him re-start the All Blacks points scoring, as he powered over to outmuscle a battered Argentine defensive line. Sam Cane had a key captain’s contribution, and battled relentlessly to see his side into the Rugby World Cup Final. He won two turnovers and was amongst the leading tackles, with his shoulders left black and blue following his departure for Auckland’s Dalton Papali’i.
Facundo Isa was Argentina’s best attacking option against New Zealand, and whilst the players around him faultered under the one-way traffic, Isa stood up to make a difference. Of course, Isa could not stop the relentless New Zealand attack by himself, but his did his best to soften the damage on the score-line. A proud performance from a mis-matched semi-final, earned Isa into our Team of the Week.
16. Bongi Mbonambi (South Africa)
17. Joe Marler (England)
18. Tyrel Lomax (New Zealand)
19. Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa)
20. Tom Curry (England)
21. Faf de Klerk (South Africa)
22. Owen Farrell (England)
23. Jonny May (England)