June Tests: Team of the Week

Date published: June 20 2016

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Now that the dust has settled after the opening round of the June internationals, we select the players that stood out over the weekend.

A resilient and clinical defensive effort from England secured them a first-ever series win over the Wallabies in Australia while a come-from-behind victory for the Springboks set up a third Test decider against Ireland.

Let's see who made the cut.

June Tests: Team of the Week

15 Israel Dagg (New Zealand)Brought up 50 Test caps in style by showing he's not lost much of his pace, fixing the Welsh defence for the All Blacks' first try. Made a seriously impressive 17 carries with the ball in hand.

14 Ruan Combrinck (South Africa): The first of two super subs in our XV, Combrinck showed why he should have started in the first place for the Springboks in this series. Steamrolled both Paddy Jackson and Jared Payne with key runs for his first try for his country and then in the build-up to Warren Whiteley's score. Gets the nod over Liam Williams, Ben Smith and Dane Haylett-Petty.

13 Jonathan Davies (Wales)Little for Wales to cheer about after another brave effort went up in smoke, but that phenomenal hand-off from Davies en route for his try will live long in the memory. Good assist as well before half-time. Credit to Georgia's David Kacharava for his try-scoring double in the win over Tonga.

12 Owen Farrell (England): He might have got the winning score at Ellis Park but Damian de Allende's lacklustre performance in the first half means he loses out to Farrell. The Saracens star kicked 13 points but it was try late on which clinched a historic series win for England. Finished with 16 tackles.

11 Waisake Naholo (New Zealand): He won't score an easier try than his effort against Wales but with the ball in hand Naholo cut the tourists to shreds, topping 100 metres with the ball in hand and making four clean breaks. Pips his Highlanders' team-mate Patrick Osborne who grabbed the winning score for Fiji against Samoa to retain the Pacific Nations Cup.

10 George Ford (England): The fly-half excelled with his kicking game in Melbourne, frustrating the Wallabies as they were made to turn around and re-build from deep within their own half. Ford made ten tackles as he made sure that his channel was not going to be broken. All Black replacement fly-half Beauden Barrett along with Los Pumas number ten Nicolás Sánchez both get a special mention.

9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand): The Highlanders' scrum-half got more than just his basics right, he was an integral part of the brilliant second half performance that saw the All Blacks power past their opposition. Smith assisted with two of New Zealand's tries. The nippy number nine gained 36 metres while the one clean break he had resulted in Beauden Barrett eventually scoring the home side's third try. Canada scrum-half Gordon McRorie gets a special mention for his 26 points that he scored in Canada's win over Russia. 

8 Warren Whiteley (South Africa): The replacement loose forward made a huge impact along with the introduction of a few other players in the second half of the Springboks come-from-behind win over Ireland. Whiteley's power and skill allowed him to muscle over the try line when his side was trailing by 16 points. The Lions captain carried the ball eight times and gained 50 metres for his side while beating two defenders. All Blacks' captain Kieran Read and England's Billy Vunipola both get a special mention.
 
7 James Haskell (England): A tireless and fierce performance from Wasps' captain laid the foundation for a memorable and clinical defensive effort. England made 185 tackles, of which Haskell made 23, compared to the 53 hits made by their opponents. To pull off such a remarkable victory with the lack of ball in hand that they had, the Six Nations champions' loose forward's effort at the breakdown deserves praise. Despite his breakaway try against Wales, All Black flank Ardie Savea narrowly misses out, as does Ireland's Rhys Ruddock.

6 Chris Robshaw (England): A Man of The Match performance of this calibre can hardly go unnoticed. The Harlequins stalwart was at the heart of the resilient England defence. Robshaw partnered brilliantly with the likes of second-row Itoje and fellow loose forward James Haskell as they restricted Australia's score to seven points. He made 12 tackles and carried the ball to gain a valuable 16 metres in a game where the visitors only had 29 percent possession on his 50th cap.

5 Guido Petti (Argentina): The Jaguares lock scored one of Los Pumas' tries in their victory over France. The 194cm second-row burnt the France defence beating three defenders on his way to the try line. He was instrumental throughout gaining a valuable 51 metres for Argentina. Petti pips South Africa lock Pieter-Steph du Toit who was a standout performer for the Springboks along with Wales centurion lock Alun Wyn Jones.

4 Maro Itoje (England): The 21-year-old second-rower got all his basics right, contributing towards the strong dominating England scrum and also made sure his lineout balls were taken. The European Player of The Year combined handsomely with his loose forwards to play a key role in denying the Wallabies any further score other than a single converted try. His tackle count testifies of his relentless work off the ball, as the Saracens forward made 21 tackles. Devin Toner impressed again.

3 Dan Cole (England): He was an instrumental figure during the set pieces, the England pack overpowered their opponents with Cole grinding away at the coalface. Even a ripped shirt in the first half couldn't stop him. In true Test rugby fashion the prop was at the heart of the dominating display of the England pack. Scotland prop WP Nel gets a special mention for his try against Japan.

2 Dylan Hartley (England): The Saints hardman became England's most capped hooker after he was awarded his 74th cap in the second Test against Australia. The inspirational front-rower has been instrumental for the Grand Slam winning side when they clinched a Test series for the first time ever against the Wallabies in Australia. Hartley got over the try line for his side's opening try and played an integral part in the set pieces which saw the visitors not only dismantle Australia's scrum on a few occasions but also dominate the breakdown. Italy hooker Ornel Gega gets a mention for his try-scoring efforts in the win over the USA.

1 Jack McGrath (Ireland): Despite being on the losing side, McGrath's relentless work at the scrum and lineout set pieces contributed towards the visitors securing quality ball possession. His sheer power and strength was too much for his opposite number, Frans Malherbe, to contain, let alone match. The Leinster prop made it difficult for the home side to gain any form of momentum at the breakdown. McGrath also got busy on defence which saw him make eight tackles.

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