29 July 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF THE WEEK – ROUND 2
The Springboks’ resurgence under Rassie Erasmus continued in Wellington on Saturday as they secured a 16-all draw with the All Blacks in dramatic fashion.
The Boks make up the bulk of our Team of the Week, followed by Australian aces after the Wallabies bagged a welcome 16-10 win over Argentina in their Round Two Rugby Championship clash in Brisbane.
Held up his end of the bargain in the play-making experiment (the same cannot be said of Richie Mo’unga). Used the extra time and space at fullback to cause all sorts of problems for the Boks. A round-record 21 runs saw him make 87 metres, two line breaks and beat six defenders.
“Doubt me now.” That’s the message the Boks’ diminutive dynamo sent his doubters as the star of the Wellington war. A giant on defence, he chopped down All Blacks at every turn with brave, textbook tackles, especially his much larger direct opponent Rieko Ioane, inspiring his team and leaving no more doubt that he belongs on the biggest stage of them all. Was excellent in the air as well, and lethal on attack with his pace, footwork and chip that sparked Herschel Jantjies’ match-saving try.
Cheslin Kolbe made 12 tackles and missed two. Best backline player by far. Beat four defenders, two clean breaks and 55 metres made. Top class performance. #savnz
— Brenden Nel (@BrendenNel) July 27, 2019
His majestic mullet flapped in the Wellington wind throughout the titanic clash. Scored a momentum-shifting try against the run of play just before half-time, sliced through the South African defence on two occasions and eluded a round-record seven defenders.
Fantastic in the first half, in particular, the monstrous midfielder made four line breaks by using his power and pace to break tackles and steam-rolled Nicolas Sanchez time and time again. Made a try-saving tackle as well.
Was Argentina’s attacking ace, running for a round-record 91 metres. His 11 runs also saw him bedazzle six defenders and make two line breaks. Moreover, he played with energy and passion that most of his teammates lacked on the day.
It wasn’t the best weekend from a flyhalf perspective. Even though it wasn’t the polished performance one has come to expect from Pollard, he was still the pick of the bunch. Played the sweeping role very well, which probably went unnoticed to many amidst the drama, and coolly slotted the tense final conversion to seal the draw.
Stole the show in his final match at Suncorp Stadium. Excellent decision-making and play-making, putting runners into holes with cut out balls and off-the-shoulder pop passes, outstanding touch finders and top-shelf game management.
The Wallabies’ win came down to outmuscling Los Pumas and no-one made a bigger impact in this regard than Naisarani. A beastly ball-carrier, he gave the hosts go-forward momentum and racked up 64 metres. Managed two breakdown steals as well.
On any other weekend, Michael Hooper would’ve walked into our team as he led the Wallabies with sheer will and a spectacular workrate that saw him make an unrivalled 17 tackles. Du Toit had a similar output, with 14 tackles, and brought an all-important level of physicality to the table that helped power the Boks to their late draw.
Like Kolbe, a cloud of doubt hung over the head of the smaller Smith as to whether he would be able to make the same impact at Test level as he does in Super Rugby, and like his teammate, he stepped up and put those concerns to bed. Made the most metres of any Bok forward (26), a match-high 15 tackles and won two turnovers.
Kwagga Smith v All Blacks ?
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) July 29, 2019