Planet Rugby

November Tests: XV of the Week

26th November 2012 11:35

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Jonathan Sexton try Ireland v Argentina

Edging it at 10: Jonathan Sexton

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

Victories were picked up by France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Tonga and Ireland in an entertaining round of international action.

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

15 Andrea Masi (Italy) - One of the Azzurri's finest during their narrow defeat against Australia, the Wasp was a huge attacking threat - making over 100 metres with the ball in hand. Credit to Simon Zebo, who grabbed his first score for Ireland against the Pumas, and also Israel Dagg.

14 Fetu'u Vainikolo (Tonga) - Straight into the side after scoring a try his country will not forget for a long time. The Connacht wing's burst of pace left Tim Visser flat-footed and ultimately played a part in the sacking of coach Andy Robinson.

13 Conrad Smith (New Zealand) - 'Snake' was at his imperious best in Cardiff, his pass leading to flank Liam Messam's try on another dominant Saturday for the world champion All Blacks.

12 Jonathan Davies (Wales) - A positive note amidst the dross - Davies did his Lions chances no harm despite the heavy defeat against New Zealand, beating a handful of defenders. His effort in midfield when Jamie Roberts hobbled off sees him slot in here.

11 Craig Gilroy (Ireland) - The rise continues. Three tries against Fiji last week and now one on his senior Test debut against Argentina, whispers of the Lions are starting to increase.

10 Jonathan Sexton (Ireland) - A narrow race to this spot with Aaron Cruden and Frederic Michalak, but Johnny Sexton against Argentina looked like the Sexton from Leinster we have come to admire. Great distribution and kicking, plus two tries in an impressive shift.

9 Kahn Fotuali'i (Samoa) - Now seen as arguably the world's best scrum-half, Fotuali'i was always prominent, backing up a strong showing in Wales by constantly threatening France.

8 Duane Vermeulen (South Africa) - Was a colossus for the Boks and one feels that Pierre Spies will have a real task displacing the Stormers number eight when he returns from injury. Vermeulen never shies away from the physical and looks to have cemented his spot.

7 Richie McCaw (New Zealand) - Simply outstanding. 21 tackles to go with streetwise work at the breakdown. He anticipates so much before his opponents and was a cut above his rival sevens over the weekend. One more game to go until he can put his feet up for a bit.

6 Taiasina Tuifua (Samoa) - This positional shift is due to a blend of a lack of blindsides shining and the impressive form of the Samoan. He was superb against Wales the week before and backed that up against France as the islanders came mighty close to winning.

5 Luke Romano (New Zealand) - We almost handed our five jersey to the ever-improving Donnacha Ryan after another big effort from him. But Romano was a carrying machine for the All Blacks and finished his try well in Cardiff. Mention for Samoa's Joe Tekori.

4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa) - Has been on the receiving end of a fair share of criticism of late and was once again in the thick of it against England, notably with scrum-half Ben Youngs. However, the physicality of the young lock was a key reason why the Boks won.

3 Census Johnson (Samoa) - Toulouse's star prop was one of the first names down on our teamsheet this week after an all-action performance that was highlighted by his nice chip kick that set up David Lemi's score. Owen Franks earns a mention as does Dan Cole.

2 Richardt Strauss (Ireland) - It was slim pickings in the hooking department this weekend but Strauss edges his cousin as our number two. Got 74 minutes in a strong team effort.

1 Cian Healy (Ireland) - Alex Corbisiero got the better of Jannie du Plessis at scrum-time while Sona Taumalolo put in another Herculean performance. But in Healy, Ireland and the British & Irish Lions arguably have the number one loosehead in the world game right now.

By Ben Coles and Adam Kyriacou
@bencoles_ and @PlanetRugbyAK

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