Rugby World Cup: Team of the Week
The first round of fixtures at this year’s Rugby World Cup are now done and dusted and there were plenty of shocks along the way with Japan unbelievably beating South Africa while Georgia also claimed an unlikely win against Tonga.
There were comfortable wins for home nations England, Ireland and Wales while France and Samoa were able to overcome Italy and the USA respectively.
But who were the standout performers? Here is our selection – do you agree?
15, Mike Brown (England)
Man of the match Brown was outstanding under the high ball and carried well when England was on the front foot, breaking through the Fijian line regularly. The fullback took his two tries superbly and nearly got the hat-trick as he led England from the back throughout.
14. Dave Kearney (Ireland)
The winger secured Ireland’s bonus point with his try after 35 minutes, throwing a lovely dummy to beat the defender and get the score. The 26-year old threatened from start to finish.
13. Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand)
12. Cory Allen (Wales)
11. Nemani Nadolo (Fiji)
The man mountain was the Fijians star player against England, out jumping Anthony Watson to score Fiji’s opening try. The winger was breaking tackles for the duration of the game and made England’s usually assured defence look very nervous.
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9. Vasil Lobzhanidze (Georgia)
1. Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)
2. Dane Coles
The hookers lineout throwing was sound and he held his own in the scrum against the aggressive Pumas. No opportunities to make one of his electric breaks but overall it was a solid performance from the number 2.
3. Kensuke Hatakeyama (Japan)
4. Iian Henderson (Ireland)
Touched down his first try in Ireland colours after 22 minutes and consistently got into good positions in attack as well as being very efficient at the breakdown.
5. Geoff Parling (England)
The second row was replaced in the second half, but put in another outstanding performance. He was physical throughout and his set piece intelligence was essential to England’s victory.
6. Michael Leitch (Japan)
The Japanese captain put in an inspired performance as he rallied his side home against the heavily favoured Springboks’. The victory can only be described as one of the biggest sporting upsets in history.
7. Sean O’Brien (Ireland)
The flanker scored the opening try in Ireland’s thrashing of Canada before setting up Sexton for their third. His ability to consistently reach the gain line alongside his work rate in defence was commendable.