It’s time for Planet Rugby’s wrap of who has their name in lights at the moment… and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
They’re on fire!
Ireland: A record of one win from 29 games never looked so good. Ireland ended their 111-year wait to defeat the All Blacks with an accomplished performance for the ages in Chicago. This was no fluke – Ireland were excellent, even having the nerve to hold onto their lead after the score slipped from 30-8 to 33-29. Oh, and this was just the fifth time that the All Blacks have conceded 40 points or more in a Test match. We are pretty sure there was no Guinness left in Chicago by Sunday morning.
Conor Murray: There is your British and Irish Lions scrum-half next year. Murray was simply magnificent against New Zealand. The quick-thinking for his try will always stand out on the highlight reel, but it was his organisation, that tackle on Julian Savea, and even a three-pointer that made him the best player this weekend.
Tribute to Axel: Understated, but very poignant. This was a fine tribute to the much missed Anthony Foley.
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) 5 November 2016
Bernard Foley: The conductor of Australia’s attacking demolition job in Cardiff. Foley made organising the Wallabies’ high number or runners and dummy runners look easy, while producing a flashback to his Sevens days by turning on the afterburners for a try in the corner. Missed a few shots at goal, but it didn’t matter with Australia so far ahead.
Barbarians: Brought plenty of razzle and dazzle to Wembley and came so close to pulling off an almighty victory. Two of these tries are unreal! Not bad for a side who first got together on Tuesday.
Argentina: Looked very sharp in their runout against Japan, with some impressive long-range tries. They will be favourites against Wales next weekend for sure. Special mention to the two Matías, Orlando and Moroni, who keep improving with each Test.
Lyon: Very impressive win for the Top 14 newcomers at home to Toulon, with Frédéric Michalak rolling back the years with the boot as he started at scrum-half. That wins gives them a healthy nine-point gap with the relegation spots.
South Africa: Points for the comeback, with those two late tries from Francois Venter and Rohan Janse van Rensburg helping the Springboks to get the draw against the Barbarians. But to be in that position in the first place is far from encouraging, even with a bunch of youngsters. Set-piece? Good. Turnovers? England will have taken note…
Under the ice!
Wales: The worst first half of the “Gatland” era? Rob Howley might be in charge, but technically Gatland is on leave, and having a temporary boss in charge might prove to be a problem for Wales over the next few months. On the field, Wales were dire. Their attacking formula in contrast to the Wallabies was prehistoric. By barely being able to get their hands on the ball in the first 20 minutes – when the possession read 95 percent Australia – any chance of the losing run to the Wallabies coming to an end went up in smoke. Ugly stuff.
Wales with only 11% possession in the first half.. pic.twitter.com/SOqX8uFAfb
— Steve Lenthall (@steve_l15) 5 November 2016
Aaron Smith: Caught out for the Murray try and being honest, didn’t look as though his head was right on his first game back for the All Blacks since being suspended for an off-field misdemeanour. Interesting to see if he gets another start against Italy, or is demoted to the bench with TJ Perenara going well in his absence.
Ospreys: Without their Welsh internationals – as the rest of the PRO12 sides were; the scheduling of Tests and PRO12 matches on the same weekend still is hard to understand – and were thumped 0-33 away to Munster as a result. No lineout, no joy. Ouch.