Team of the Week: All Blacks dominate alongside PRO14, Top 14 and Championship standouts
All Blacks feature heavily in our XV this week, with a Wallaby, the PRO14, Top 14 and Championship represented too.
Find out who makes our cut and have your say when it comes to the most influential player of the weekend with our vote below…
15. Dan Evans (Ospreys)
The Welsh full-back consistently performs at regional level, and on Friday he was outstanding as an under-strength Ospreys side beat Connacht in their first-ever home match at Brewery Field.
WHAT. A. FINISH! ??
A last-gasp @DanEvs15 score gives @ospreys the win over @connachtrugby #GUINNESSPRO14 #OSPvCON pic.twitter.com/ny4wQwhAw6
Evans made the most carries of anyone on the pitch with 19, and earned a phenomenal 136 metres with ball in hand. He also notched a last-gasp try to clinch a dramatic 22-17 success.
How is it he only has two Test caps from 2009?
14. Ben Smith (New Zealand)
The evergreen All Black wing was as classy as he always seems to be at Test level for New Zealand on Saturday, as they recorded a 37-20 win over Australia in Tokyo, and with it a 3-0 Bledisloe Cup victory.
Smith registered 109 metres in attack – no one on the pitch made more – while he made more carries than any other All Black.
His darting run was influential in fellow wing Rieko Ioane’s try, while he also scored a try his performance deserved when intercepting an Israel Folau pass – a try which, incidentally, should not have stood owing to Aaron Smith’s blocking off the ball, but all officials seemed to miss it.
13. Israel Folau (Australia)
The only player in our XV on the losing side this week, Folau began the Test in Tokyo out of position at outside-centre and the aforementioned intercept pass aside, demonstrated his class in spades.
The Wallaby made a game-high 13 carries, earned 109 metres with ball in hand – level with Ben Smith – and scored a well-taken try.
A player any team in the world would start in their side.
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster)
Leinster were looking for a reaction after their European Cup defeat to Toulouse last week, and they got it in the form of a bonus-point win away to Benetton.
Top of the attacking stats was centre Henshaw, who made 17 carries and 92 metres – both the most of anyone involved in the game.
Having suffered from a string of injuries over the last couple of years, the 25-year-old will be hoping to take his eye-catching form into the November internationals and perform for Ireland.
11. Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)
It is easy to forget that Ioane is still just 21-years-old, such is the calibre of his exploits at Test level to date.
The wing has already racked up 21 Test caps (19 starts) and scored a remarkable 22 tries – the latest of which came in Japan on Saturday.
At the Yokohama-based arena, Ioane’s pace was too much to handle for the Wallabies as he set up a try for Beauden Barrett and scored one at a pivotal moment himself.
Exceptional speed, balance, handling skill and finishing ability, Ioane is an enormously valuable asset to have. It is scary to think what he might yet develop into.
10. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
Pulling the strings against the Wallabies was another supremely skilful rugby player in Beauden Barrett.
The Kiwi 10 combined with Ioane to score a stunning try, registered 12 additional points with the boot and threw a near-ridiculous pass between his legs – a la Johnny Sexton in Europe two weeks back – to brilliantly set up Ioane’s score.
The challenges laid down by the likes of Richie Mo’unga and Damian McKenzie for the All Black out-half slot seem to have driven Barrett’s standard of performance even higher.
9. Piet van Zyl (Stade Francais)
In front of the Sky Sports cameras on Saturday, Stade Francais hosted Montpellier in the heavyweight match-up of this week’s Top 14 fixture list.
A late try by flanker Sekou Macalou clinched a 25-20 win for Stade in Paris, but the best player on the pitch was South African scrum-half Piet van Zyl.
In an 80-minute display, Van Zyl – who was playing for London Irish just last year – kept the tempo of the game high with his quick and accurate service, while his dangerous solo breaks and runs yielded 64 metres – no player from either side made more.
1. Joe Moody (New Zealand)
In the week that the Kiwi prop signed a new contract to remain in New Zealand with the Crusaders until 2022, he impressed on his return to the side.
Having missed the majority of the Rugby Championship with a thumb injury, Moody was back in at loosehead against Australia and despite coming off after 51 minutes, nobody on the pitch from either side made more tackles than the 30-year-old’s 10.
Moody was also strong at scrum time, with New Zealand 100 per cent on their own ball, winning two penalties and a free-kick, while giving away no penalties on Australia’s put-in.
2. Oliviero Fabiani (Zebre)
Edinburgh arrived in Italy to play Zebre in the PRO14 on Friday off the back of their sensational European Cup win over Toulon, but the Italians came from 13 points down to blow them away.
Principle to Zebre’s success was the exceptional display of hooker Fabiani. The forward played for the full 80 minutes – how many front-rowers can say that these days? – and made 19 tackles and 11 carries in an all-action performance.
[email protected]'s Oliviero Fabiani receives the man of the match award from Francesco Barayella of Guinness after his side beat @EdinburghRugby #GUINNESSPRO14 pic.twitter.com/Pvq0hGqpzJ
All six of Fabiani’s throws were successful at lineout time, and he also picked up a valuable turnover during the game.
A note too for Akker van der Merwe, who was superb as the Sharks tasted Currie Cup glory on Saturday by beating Western Province 17-12 away in Cape Town.
3. Vadim Cobilas (Bordeaux Begles)
The 35-year-old Moldovan tighthead combined with Jefferson Poirot to dismantle the Lyon scrum for Bordeaux on Sunday as part of a 35-13 victory.
In a toiling 68-minute shift, Cobilas contributed to a Bordeaux scrum which operated at 100 per cent, winning all nine of their own scrums and picking up one penalty against the head.
Such power at the set-piece presented the ideal platform for the likes of Baptiste Serin, Semi Radradra et al to attack and flourish.
4. David Sisi (Zebre)
With Zebre hooker Fabiani already in the team for his display against Edinburgh, we could not ignore the performance of lock Sisi either.
The 25-year-old was magnificent for the Italian outfit, ranking in the top five for carries (13), metres made (31) and tackles (17).
The former London Irish and Bath second row also beat two defenders and scored a try – the all important first try in the second half in fact as Zebre came back to win 34-16.
5. Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92)
When Nakarawa is picked to start for Racing, he rarely fails to entertain with his immense skill-set.
The Fijian thrived again on Saturday as the Parisians put Pau to the sword at home, winning 48-28.
Nakarawa put in 12 tackles and also made nine carries. He threw five offloads, earned one turnover and claimed the ball three times at the lineout.
His second-row combination with Donnacha Ryan is one of the strongest around in club rugby, and will make the French side a contender for Europe’s top prize once again this season.
6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster)
Munster hosted Glasgow at Thomond Park on Saturday in a PRO14 Conference A game they needed to win. Despite their good start in Europe, their domestic form has been more patchy and defeat at the weekend would have left them badly positioned.
Things did not look good for the Irish province when they fell 14 points behind to the free-scoring Scots with just 15 minutes left on the clock, but skipper O’Mahony drove them on to a comeback victory.
The blindside put his body on the line to such an extent that he required medical treatment on three separate occasions throughout the 80 minutes. But yet he still made 11 tackles, stole two lineouts and stopped a certain try for Ruaridh Jackson on 46 minutes with a last-ditch intervention on the tryline.
Tries from Alex Wootton and Alby Mathewson put Munster within two points and with 30 seconds to go and Glasgow in possession, O’Mahony struck for his second breakdown penalty of the day.
It handed Rory Scannell a 55-metre penalty chance to snatch the game, and the centre delivered.
7. Adam Peters (Coventry)
Coventry registered a valuable 20-15 win over Yorkshire Carnegie in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Saturday, with flanker Peters named man of the match.
MATCH REACTION: Here's what @SkySportsRugby MOM @AdzPeters made of yesterday's battling win over Yorkshire Carnegie…https://t.co/bP5zewlkxg pic.twitter.com/JaVDNuQecx
Though he played on the blindside during the Championship clash, we have shifted him to the openside in order to get him into our side, and with O’Mahony able to pick up some of the breakdown slack.
Peters made 15 carries, 10 tackles and – like O’Mahony for Munster – stole two lineouts in a well-rounded display.
8. Selevasio Tolofua (Toulouse)
The 21-year-old No 8 impressed in his side’s European victory over Leinster last week, and at the weekend he really stood out as Toulouse earned a win at Perpignan – one of only two away victories in the Top 14 over the weekend.
During the 36-18 success, Tolofua made 16 tackles and 10 carries. He beat four defenders and scored a try.
A talent to keep an eye on in the future for sure.
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