Planet Rugby

November Tests: XV of the Week

12th November 2012 12:03

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Dan Carter New Zealand

Superb: Dan Carter

Now that the dust has settled in the northern hemisphere, Planet Rugby looks at the guys who stole the show in week one of the November Tests.

Victories were picked up by Samoa, USA, Italy, England, Argentina, South Africa, France and finally New Zealand in an entertaining round.

So without further ado, here comes our offering - be sure to send in your own 15-1 team line-ups.

15 Alex Goode (England) - It was a lesson in how to take your chance when it comes along. Goode was lively in attack and assured in defence as he vindicated coach Stuart Lancaster's decision to pick him ahead of Mike Brown. If he keeps this up then a Ben Foden selection headache may arrive.

14 Gonzalo Camacho (Argentina) - Looked dangerous whenever in possession, and was equally up to the task on defence. The Pumas speedster bagged Argentina's second sensational try that helped the visitors secure their second win over Wales in Cardiff, 11 years to the day after their first. A mention too for England finisher Charlie Sharples, who grasped his opportunity to shine in Chris Ashton's absence with his first two tries for England.

13 Ben Smith (New Zealand) - We were impressed by the nimble feet of Keith Earls in attack while Manu Tuilagi definitely deserves a mention for his couple of tries against Fiji. But Smith is a line-hitting machine and would make many other teams in world rugby.

12 Tamati Ellison (New Zealand) - After much deliberation we settled on the Highlanders back, who combined well with his franchise team-mate on Sunday. When Ellison left New Zealand for Japan a few seasons ago, many felt it was the wrong move due to the centre's international quality, but he is back in black now and looks set to push Ma'a Nonu.

11 Robert Lilomaiava (Samoa) - Yes, no Tim Visser. Sorry Scotland fans but four tries on debut simply could not be ignored. Lilomaiava certainly announced himself on the Test stage on Friday but of course it was a difficult decision to leave the poacher that is Visser.

10 Dan Carter (New Zealand) - Maybe that missed drop-goal against Australia struck a nerve as Carter responded with a superb showing. He kicked well, directed his new centres and broke the line a few times for a top shift. Frederic Michalak was excellent in Paris.

9 Ruan Pienaar (South Africa) - Responsible for the only try in Dublin that turned the game in South Africa's favour. The Ulster nine has been hitting all the high notes for his province, and carried his exceptional form over to the international arena. Test experience is not a commodity the Springboks have in abundance, but Pienaar showed plenty of it on Saturday.

8 Louis Picamoles (France) - Akapusi Qera started the game well for Fiji but drifted as England took control. But there was only going to be one wearer of our eight jersey as Picamoles was a monster, carrying superbly throughout as his stock continues to rise.

7 David Denton (Scotland) - On for Ross Rennie with 19 minutes played, Denton was a real threat. He should get a second go next week as Rennie suffered a dislocated shoulder but it remains to be seen whether Andy Robinson opts to instead bring in a specialist openside.

6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Argentina) - Lobbe was once again the driving force of Argentina's back row with a series of strong carries. Always in the thick of the action, the Pumas skipper put in a man-of-the-match performance - which included setting up Juan Imhoff's try - to lead his troops to a famous win. Mention too for England loosie Tom Johnson, who deserved his first England try in the second half against Fiji at Twickenham.

5 Mike McCarthy (Ireland) - Strong in the tackle, excellent in the line-outs and made some timely defensive interventions too - McCarthy's bullish display that saw him front up to South Africa's pack was enough to earn him a man of the match award after 70 minutes played.

4 Luke Romano (New Zealand) - The 26-year-old seems to be maturing into an outstanding Test lock after a complete performance against Scotland. As per usual, Romano hit rucks aplenty and carried well but it was his link play and confidence in possession that stood out.

3 Nicolas Mas (France) - We came seriously close to picking the whole French front-row after that demolition of their Wallaby counterparts. However, only Mas makes the Planet Rugby cut because of other performances at hooker and loosehead. First class from him.

2 Adriaan Strauss (South Africa) An effective battering ram in the Bok pack, Strauss brought his hard-running power to proceedings as he consistently charged through or into Irish defenders - inflicting pain to anyone he came into contact with. McCarthy may have got the official man of the match gong, but Strauss was our clear winner in the hooking jersey.

1 Wyatt Crockett (New Zealand) - Extremely difficult to leave out French debutant Yannick Forestier and also Thomas Domingo for that matter for their combined hammering of Sekope Kepu. But much like Romano, Crockett showed the skills and composure of a back on Sunday and sneaks this starting jersey. Sona Taumalolo also shone for the Tongans.

By Dave Morris and Adam Kyriacou

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