XV of the Week: Rugby Championship

Date published: September 16 2014

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Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we pick out the players that stood out from the crowd over the weekend.

Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we pick out the players that stood out from the crowd over the weekend.

The All Blacks and Springbok produced a top-class display in Wellington so they naturally dominate this week's line-up.

Team of the Week: Rugby Championship, Round Four:

15 Israel Folau (Australia): Just the 68 metres made, but Folau was again a threat all game, and beat more defenders than any other full-back this weekend. We expect so much from Folau that by his own standards he might have seemed a little quiet, but he was still Australia's biggest running danger. Also worth mentioning his opposite number Joaquin Tuculet who capped off a fine game with a try and looks to have really settled at Test level. Israel Dagg also looks back to his best, and racked up 113 metres with ball in hand.

14 Cornal Hendricks (South Africa): It's now five tries in seven Tests for Hendricks, not quite Julian Savea-like statistics, but very impressive nonetheless. This time his score came from a very well-worked set move, with the winger timing his run to perfection on Handre Pollard's inside shoulder and then having the gas to sprint over. This isn't just for his try though, Hendricks was a menace throughout, and will be even more dangerous when Willie le Roux isn't having an off-day. He's scored in each of his last three Tests, so the Wallabies need to watch out!

13 Marcelo Bosch (Argentina): A jack-of-all trades who can also play inside centre, fly-half and full-back, but it's at 13 that Bosch looks at his best. With a grace that is in stark contrast to his name, Bosch is great at making space for his teammates, and turned up in the right place at the right time to score the try that sparked the Argentina recovery. He also didn't shirk his defensive duties, making 13 tackles. Conrad Smith was as effective as ever beating four defenders, while Jan Serfontein's 19 tackles also deserve a mention.

12 Ben Smith (New Zealand): A sneaky pick, we'll admit, since he wasn't named at 12, but with ten defenders beaten there was no way we could leave Smith out of our team. Showing his skill and versatlity in filling the void caused by Ma'a Nonu's injury, Smith came in for praise from all quarters with All Blacks coaching staff joking afterwards that they'd try him at fly-half next.

11 Julian Savea (New Zealand): A Test without Savea scoring a try now feels like an anomaly, with his record now only reading 26 tries in 26 Tests (we jest, that's still absurd.) That said, Savea still went very well – making three clean breaks, 118 metres and beating seven defenders. A mention for Manuel Montero, who owns a pretty impressive tries-to-games ratio himself with 14 in 16. His fumble for Michael Hooper's second try keeps him out of the XV.

10 Handrè Pollard (South Africa): Quite the performance. We'd spoken beforehand about the pressure on Pollard in a big game against the All Blacks, but he shone through. One moment in particular stuck out; looking wide to run the ball out of the Boks' 22 rather simply hoof it. He has ambition, plus his inside pass for Cornal Hendricks' try was exquisite. A mention for Bernard Foley.

9 Nick Phipps (Australia): The Wallabies in-form scrum-half was at it again on the Gold Coast. Australia just look and feel better as a side when the Waratahs duo of Phipps and Foley are there to pull the strings (except for that 3-on-1 botched overlap.) Great break in the build-up to Peter Betham's try.

8 Duane Vermeulen (South Africa): Another all-action display from Vermeulen who has established himself as one of the Springbok's go-to players. In Wellington he was making tackles, winning line-outs, carrying the ball and busting through defenders, while generally being a nuisance throughout. Kieran Read was rightfully voted World Player of the Year in 2013, but on this year's form Vermeulen has been as good as just about any number eight in the world. It has to be said that Read was also in fine form and his play in the build-up to Richie McCaw's try was outstanding.

7 Richie McCaw (New Zealand): A tough call on Michael Hooper after he scored a brace for the Wallabies but those tries were relatively easy run ins. McCaw scored the winner against the Springboks, made 13 tackles and carried the ball 12 times.

6 Marcell Coetzee (South Africa): The Bok flank is an absolutely workhorse. Coetzee wasn't a first choice at the start of the tournament but as the weekend's top tackler (again) with no less than 19 hits, he is making it impossible for Heyneke Meyer to look elsewhere.

5 Victor Matfield (South Africa): The ultimate line-out jumper, Matfield showed his class once again with seven takes in the air while stealing two more off the All Blacks. The are some criticisms of his lack of ball carrying on attack but with 17 tackles made, no one can fault his commitement.

4 Brodie Retallick (New Zealand): After plenty of pre-match hype, he won his personal duel with Eben Etzebeth which was no mean feat as Etzebeth also played well. Retallick did his bit at the coalface of the All Blacks' forward effort, catching the eye with the intensity in which he cleaned out the rucks and on defence with seven tackles. He wasn't New Zealand's main line-out target but managed to poach two of the Boks' balls at the set-piece.

3 Ramiro Herrera (Argentina): Although Argentina didn't dominate Australia in the scrums quite the way everyone expected, they still got the better of their opponents in this department. Herrera didn't take a backward step at the set-piece and made his mark on defence with 11 tackles. He beats out Australia's Sekope Kepu who also impressed with ball in hand on the Gold Coast.

2 Adriaan Strauss (South Africa): Delivered another solid allround display which will for the Boks against the All Blacks. Strauss' biggest strength is that he does his core duties well and that was once again on display in Wellington. Scrummed well and caught the eye with seven hits on defence. His accuracy at the line-outs was also missed when he was replaced by Bismarck du Plessis – who missed his jumpers on three occasions. Strauss edges out Argentina's Agustin Creevy who was superb on defence with 16 tackles against Australia.

1 Wyatt Crockett (New Zealand): Was, like Retallick, at the forefront of All Blacks' battle up front against the Springboks. Crockett was prepared to do the dirty work which set a platform for his more flashier team-mates launch attacks. Also delivered a solid scrummaging display and did his bit on defence with five hits.

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