Planet Rugby

Rugby Championship: XV of the Week

01st October 2012 14:46

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Bryan Habana SA v Aus RC 2012

Back to his best: Bryan Habana

Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, Planet Rugby looks at the players who stole the show in the Rugby Championship.

15 Zane Kirchner (South Africa): Even Pat Lambie supporters can't argue that Kirchner had a solid outing - and not for the first time - at the back for South Africa. He ran hard and his positional play was sound. His try in front of his home crowd was just reward for a job well done, while he was exceptionally unlucky not to have bagged a brace.

14 Bryan Habana (South Africa): Habana is like a fine red wine - he just keeps getting better with age. Whilst not fully satisfied with one try, he crossed for two more to take his tally of Test tries to 46 as the veteran flyer picked Australia's defence apart. Superb!

13 Marcelo Bosch (Argentina): Things didn't go according to plan for his team, but Bosch did his reputation little harm and made the most of his chances with ball in hand whilst he was very busy on defence.

12 Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand): Exposed some poor Pumas defence on multiple occasions. Nonu powered through to set up Aaron Smith, before crossing for one himself in one of his better outings for NZ.

11 Cory Jane (New Zealand): Played on the right, but there was no way we were going to leave the All Blacks' hat-trick hero out of this team. Jane simply reconfirmed his class out wide for the world champions. Magnificent!

10 Dan Carter (New Zealand): He's baaack! It was a clinical performance from Carter, who missed the last two rounds of the championship due to a calf injury. Slotted three conversions and two penalties, but his precise option taking is what really stood out. Mention too for Johann Goosen who, in his first start for the Boks, turned in a thrilling display at Loftus Versfeld.

9 Ruan Pienaar (South Africa): It was a toss up between Pienaar and Aaron Smith, but in the end we went for the Bok number nine who was full of sniping breaks and proved to be an annoying thorn in the Wallabies' side. Also shouldered much of the kicking responsibilities (for goal and tactical).

8 Kieran Read (New Zealand): It's official: Read is without a doubt the best number eight in the business. There's not much else we can add to that!

7 Francois Louw (South Africa): If everyone thought replacing Morne Steyn with Goosen was Heyneke Meyer's best decision yet as Bok coach... you're probably right. But another good decision was sending an SOS to England-based Louw, who has answered his country's call with aplomb. It was one of Louw's finest performances in a Bok jersey.

6 Liam Messam (New Zealand): A demon on defence. Messam also affected some important breakdown turnovers, and was successful in slowing the Pumas' ruck recycle to the point where the hosts battled for any significant attacking momentum. In his best display in the black jersey so far.

5 Andries Bekker (South Africa): Much, much better from Bekker who made up for his dismal outing in Mendoza. Got stuck in from start to finish, smothering would-be Wallaby attackers on defence while produced some nice handling touches as well. Australia's tall timber struggled to scale South Africa's man-mountain, who won all of his own line-out ball.

4 Luke Romano (New Zealand): Prominent in the set-pieces, and covered plenty of ground on defence, whilst got the ball over the advantage line on attack. Also instrumental in support play.

3 Jannie du Plessis (South Africa): Anchored South Africa's scrum and impressed in the tight-loose. His general play has also improved considerably since the start of the tournament.

2 Adriaan Strauss (South Africa): Good darts in the line-out from South Africa's vice-captain and held up well at scrum-time. Got through a mountain of donkey work at ruck time too, and helped SA to dominate the breakdown.

1 Tony Woodcock (New Zealand): As usual, he did his basics well and also impressed with his defensive work - especially around the fringes of the rucks and mauls.

By Dave Morris

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