XV of the Week: Rugby Championship

Date published: July 28 2015

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Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, we select the players that stood out in Round Two of the Rugby Championship.

South Africa may have lost, but they were in front for most of their clash against New Zealand until injuries changed the complexion of the game, so the Boks have a healthy contingent in our team this week.

Meanwhile, the Wallaby pack did really well in Argentina as Australia made it two from two.

Here it is then, feel free to give us your best XV below.

Rugby Championship: Team of Round Two

15 Santiago Cordero (Argentina): A shining light for Argentina on what overall was a disappointing night in Mendoza. Los Pumas needed individual brilliance and Cordero was the chief supplier, threatening the defence and shining on his first Rugby Championship start at full-back. Brave under the high ball and with 12 runs for over 100 metres, beating seven defenders.

14 Ben Smith (New Zealand): It doesn't matter where he plays, Smith always seems to do the right thing. Moving to the wing after a successful season at full-back for the Highlanders, he was in the right place at the right time to finish off Lima Sopoaga's break and draw the sides level right on half-time. Add in a couple more clean breaks, and it was another very classy display.

13 Jesse Kriel (South Africa): There was such a storm of controversy after the young Bull's first selection at outside centre earlier this month, but surely there is no longer any doubt he cuts the mustard. With a second fantastic try in his second Test, Kriel outshone his much-vaunted and highly-decorated opposite number.

12 Damian De Allende(South Africa): Another strong – literally – performance from the Stormers centre, who has carried his excellent Super Rugby form onto the Test scene. Six defenders beaten in a handful of powerful runs that saw the All Blacks struggle to bring him to ground. With Jan Serfontein waiting in the wings and Jean de Villiers on his way back, South Africa have real depth at 12 

11 Charles Piutau (New Zealand): New Zealand were furious when they found out Piutau was heading overseas to Ulster, and he underlined why on Saturday. A nightmare to bring down, Piutau was beating defenders for fun and looks to have sewn up a spot in the All Black World Cup squad. On this form he needs to start all the big games, which might require a reshuffle when Julian Savea is back fit again.

10 Lima Sopoaga (New Zealand): It was always going to be a testing debut at Ellis Park for Sopoaga but he came through it very well indeed. His try assist for wing Smith was excellent while he kicked and defended admirably in victory in a first Test he'll never forget.

9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand): Back in the side ahead of TJ Perenara and he was his usual measured self, making the right calls against South Africa. Controlled the contest well and sees off Nick Phipps, who put in back-to-back solid showings for the Wallabies.

8 Schalk Burger (South Africa): Burger was in his first Test as captain of his country and he played out of his skin, committed from start to finish and providing a number of powerful carries to get his side moving forward. Burger made 14 runs and 13 tackles – a phenomenal work-rate. His comeback has been very special.

7 David Pocock (Australia): Took over from Michael Hooper on the openside and impressed a great deal in Mendoza, both at the breakdown and in open play. He made over 50 metres with ball in hand to go with 18 tackles, seeing off Richie McCaw and Heinrich Brussow for this jersey. He is also likely to keep his spot against New Zealand on August 8, with Hooper set for a hearing on Wednesday.

6 Scott Fardy (Australia): Continues to do the unseen work for the Wallabies and is quickly becoming one of the first names on Michael Cheika's team-sheet. A solid line-out option again and good link man who often popped up on the touchline, causing the Pumas problems before he was replaced by the impressive Dean Mumm. He scored a fantastic try that set Australia on their way to the bonus-point charge.

5 Lood de Jager (South Africa): Such has been the concern over who covers for Victor Matfield that we almost forgot about De Jager. Not on Saturday. The young Cheetah missed most of the season through injury but played his best game yet for the Springboks at Ellis Park, with 11 runs and five lineout takes. Narrowly short of the try line too in the second half. 

4 Will Skelton (Australia): Skelton still has moments of madness, like when he conceded an unnecessary penalty early on, but there’s no denying the momentum he gives the Wallabies with the ball in hand. Relished the rough stuff in Mendoza and finished with nine tackles whilst keeping Argentina’s defence busy.

3 Jannie du Plessis (South Africa): One of only two players to keep their place in our weekly selection, Du Plessis highlighted his value for the Boks, despite only lasting one half. He's one of those players South Africans love to moan about, but his scrummaging over the last fortnight has secured his ticket to the World Cup. 

2 Dane Coles (New Zealand): A try that most centres would have been proud of, Coles is as dynamic as they come in open play. It wasn't just his try though, Coles got through a mountain of work including 14 tackles, with none missed. The All Black lineout also functioned to perfection, despite going up against a formidable Springbok challenge.

1 Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa): A busy afternoon for 'Beast', who was part of the Springbok scrum that got the upper hand on the All Blacks until they had to go to uncontested scrums. His carrying was also invaluable, making than double that of any other prop this weekend. Because of injuries he ended up playing 70 minutes.

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