Team of the Week: World Cup

Date published: October 12 2015

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As the group stages come to a close we look back on who stood out in the matches last week from Tuesday to Sunday in the World Cup.

We've said goodbye to 12 teams as eight prepare to do battle in the quarter-finals, starting at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon when South Africa face Wales.

It's been a thrilling group stage but before we get stuck into the knockouts, let's focus on who stood out in a week that saw big wins for Australia, Ireland and Romania.

Rugby World Cup Team of the Week:

15 Rob Kearney (Ireland): He was fired up on Sunday. Kearney led from the back so to speak as the number fifteen was committed in everything he did against the French. Scoring the match's first try, Kearney also ran well and positionally was excellent as always. Elsewhere it was another strong performance from Japan full-back Ayumu Goromaru and the free-running Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino of Argentina.

14 Nehe Milner-Skudder (New Zealand): First off a mention for Argentina wing Matias Moroni, who was outstanding against Namibia. Out of position from his usual centre spot, Moroni was electric with ball in hand but could not see off Milner-Skudder, who scored a brace of tries against Tonga on Friday. That performance nailed down his position ahead of Waisake Naholo for the quarter-final. It's deserved.

13 Tevita Kuridrani (Australia): Like many of the Wallabies on Saturday, it was their defensive work that topped what they could muster with ball in hand. Kuridrani gave opposite number George North few chances to run and that is why he beats England's Henry Slade.

12 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland): Outstanding against France. Henshaw is just 22 but played like he had been in the international game for years on Sunday. He made the most running metres for Ireland and was also good defensively to see of Samoa and Fiji's Rey Lee-Lo and Lepani Botia, who were both excellent against Scotland and Uruguay respectively. Georgia's Merab Sharikadze was also a stand-out.

11 Bryan Habana (South Africa): England winger Jack Nowell grabbed a hat-trick against Uruguay as he sent a message to the selectors but for Habana's own treble against USA, we go for the Bok. He's now level with Jonah Lomu for RWC tries and will no doubt be kicking himself for dropping a ball that would have sent him top. Habana would have to settle for the three scores and will hope for more against Wales.

10 Ian Madigan (Ireland): There was plenty of worried faces when Jonathan Sexton left the field in Cardiff but what a performance from his replacement: Madigan came on and swiftly slotted a penalty to settle any nerves and then went from strength to strength against France, beating Samoa fly-half Tusi Pisi to this jersey. Pisi, like his team against Scotland, was unlucky not to sign off the pools with a win.

9 Greig Laidlaw (Scotland): Arguably his best performance in a Scotland jersey to date, although he will hope to top it against Australia this coming weekend. Laidlaw was superb as skipper against a much-improved Samoa side, scoring 26 points via a try and eight kicks.

8 Mihai Macovei (Romania)Suspended for Sunday's final match with Italy, it was thanks to Macovei's heroics that the Oaks completed that crazy comeback against Canada last Tuesday. Macovei's two tries in the second-half helped set up Florin Vlaicu for the winning kick and some special scenes after the final whistle. A mention for England's Nick Easter – now the oldest player in Test rugby history at 37 to score a hat-trick.

7 Sean O'Brien (Ireland)As Ireland's other talismen went off with injuries O'Brien raised his game, seemingly everywhere in the second-half against France in a memorable performance. O'Brien's 12 carries over the gainline and three turnovers were massive and he relished the physical contest up against France's back-row. Gets in ahead of Samoa's impressive flanker Jack Lam and Thierry Dusautoir, who racked up 21 tackles in Cardiff, and also Namibia's Wian Conradie for his 24 hits against Argentina.

6 Scott Fardy (Australia)The Wallabies' unsung hero was at it again at Twickenham, proving he's no slouch either when it comes to pilfering opposition ball. Had to work even harder when the Wallabies went down to 13 but responded with 13 tackles to go with a couple of crucial turnovers. Holds off Japan's Michael Leitch for this spot after another great outing for the Brave Blossoms' skipper.

5 Kane Douglas (Australia)Yet again excelled in the Wallaby second-row, using all of his 202cm, 123kg frame to good effect when Australia were on the ropes. Douglas was the top tackler at Twickenham on Saturday with 15 and he has quickly become an essential part of their improving forward pack. Wins the spot ahead of the great Alun Wyn Jones of Wales, who was colossal as ever, and the insane Leone Nakarawa.

4 Luke Charteris (Wales)Arguably playing his best rugby ever at this level. Australia's maul has destroyed teams this year but with the Racing 92 giant in there to disrupt, the Wallabies never got going. It wasn't enough for the win, but he showed how effective he can be for Wales. A mention for Valentin Poplaran of Romania.

3 Sekope Kepu (Australia)Only 50 minutes action at Twickenham but more good work yet again at the scrum from Kepu as he was given a sterner test than expected from Paul James. Fronted up to the challenge and has been the star tighthead of the competition so far.

2 Julian Montoya (Argentina)First there was Ledesma, now Creevy, and the future? Step forward Julian Montoya. No Argentina player carried better than Montoya in their big win over Namibia on Sunday, with the hooker crossing the gainline eight times. We'll be keeping tabs on the exciting 21-year-old, who has already won 13 caps. Uruguay's Carlos Arbeloya gets a mention.

1 Mihai Lazar (Romania)Another star from Romania's win on Wednesday, the 30-year-old Castres prop helped destroy Canada's scrum to win those vital few penalties for his side as they ended their eight-year wait for a World Cup victory. Mako Vunipola did well for England too in Manchester.

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