Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we pick out the stand-out performers of Round Five.
So there we have it, New Zealand have won a third straight title but this year it comes one week before the finale at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Their impressive win over Argentina followed South Africa beating Australia so without further ado, let’s show you who made our selection.
Rugby Championship Team of Round Five
15 Israel Dagg (New Zealand) – No debate here as Dagg was the catalyst of an All Blacks victory. His assist for Ben Smith was followed up by Smith returning the favour later on as he glided across the turf, recapturing his top form after a recent mini slump on the Test scene. He made well over 100 metres as his rivals at Newlands, Willie le Roux and Israel Folau were surprisingly quiet.
14 Ben Smith (New Zealand) – What can you say about the man? In a week that former Wallaby wing David Campese was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, Smith gave that no-look pass to Dagg for New Zealand’s second score. The Highlander followed that up with another understated performance on the right wing for New Zealand as 2013’s top finisher finally broke his 2014 Rugby Championship drought on Saturday.
13 Tevita Kuridrani (Australia) – Player of the weekend? It was a game that Kuridrani re-announced himself on the international scene after having been dropped for their Rugby Championship opener due to Adam Ashley-Cooper’s Waratahs midfield form being favoured. With eight defenders beaten in his seventeen carries, Kuridrani also backed that up with seventeen devastating tackles as he could not be stopped by the Springboks at Newlands.
12 Jean de Villiers (South Africa) – Malakai Fekitoa went very well at inside centre for New Zealand, especially with a lot of pressure resting on his shoulders due to Ma’a Nonu’s absence. He made all the right decisions, which shows he is learning quickly about Test rugby, while his fifteen carries saw him beat six defenders. However, a captain’s effort from De Villiers could not be ignored. Two tries, twelve carries and ten hits to go with leadership and desire that played a part in South Africa’s late surge sees him take our twelve shirt.
11 Julian Savea (New Zealand) – One try but he could easily have scored three on Saturday but for two offside calls. Despite the two near misses, he still tops the Rugby Championship try chart with one game to go as his record now reads 27 tries in 27 internationals. Wow. He made over 100 metres with ball in hand while his intelligent chip kicks were also effective.
10 Beauden Barrett (New Zealand) – 100 percent off the kicking tee from Barrett while he controlled matters pretty well against Argentina with a good mix of option taking. Having two Rugby Championship games as a guaranteed starter should benefit Barrett longer term and who knows, another big showing at Ellis Park and he could become first choice for Bledisloe III and then November. Mention for Nicol