Planet Rugby

Rugby Championship: Team of Round 5

30th September 2013 14:12

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Rugby Championship Team of the Round Five

SAS: Smith and Strauss

Now that the dust has settled in the southern hemisphere, Planet Rugby hands out praise to the stars of the Rugby Championship's fifth round.

It was another absorbing round from the south that saw the Springboks and All Blacks claim respective wins over the Wallabies and Pumas.

So without further ado, we give your selection.

Rugby Championship: Team of the Week

15 Zane Kirchner (South Africa) - Was his usual steady self as the Boks' last line of defence but also impressed on attack, gaining 82 metres in the process. Was rewarded for superb support play with a try and was seldom caught out of position when fielding kicks from Australia.

14 Ben Smith (New Zealand) - It is fair to say that Smith has sewn up the top try-scorer bragging rights in this year's Rugby Championship, with two scores against Argentina putting him on seven, four ahead of a chasing Juan Manuel Leguizamón. When Conrad Smith takes a break from Test rugby, don't be surprised to see Ben shift to thirteen as his versatility and qualities continue to shine through.

13 Conrad Smith (New Zealand) - Watch the All Black centre for five minutes and you get an idea of the work he puts in. On Saturday in La Plata he was at his best yet again alongside his former Hurricanes team-mate. Smith did not put a foot wrong in attack and defence.

12 Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand) - It's clear that Nonu in Super Rugby is not the same Nonu that pulls on the Black jersey. Still yet to find a franchise for 2014, the 31-year-old couldn't have done more to turn heads as he was excellent against the Pumas. His double-pump short pass for Ben Smith's first try was superb.

11 Julian Savea (New Zealand) - Fifteen tries now for the 23-year-old winger as he finished well down the left touchline for what was an opportunistic score. Savea made an impressive 138 metres on Saturday - bumping off a few forwards to that feat - and is set to be key for New Zealand at Ellis Park this weekend.

10 Morne Steyn (South Africa) - Impressed with the way he put his outside backs into space, especially during the first-half in Cape Town. Kicked 13 points but also caught the eye with ball in hand - gaining 50 metres - and was South Africa's best defender with 11 tackles.

9 Fourie du Preez (South Africa) - Proved once again why he is so highly rated by Heyneke Meyer with another polished display against the Wallabies. Showed great vision in setting up Adriaan Strauss and Willie le Roux for tries and kept the Bok pack on the front-foot with intelligent box kicks.

8 Duane Vermeulen (South Africa) - Despite being yellow-carded for a cynical offence, Vermeulen, once again, put his body on the line for the Bok cause. Was a willing ball carrier with two defenders beaten and also did his bit on defence with six tackles.

7 Sam Cane (New Zealand) - Richie McCaw was water boy for the All Blacks in La Plata and he would've struggled not to have been impressed by his understudy's performance. Cane beat five defenders and was worthy of his second-half try, which he took well on the left wing. A mention for Pumas flanker Pablo Matera.

6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Argentina) - While the props will take credit for a strong scrum, Lobbe needs praise for his work around the field. The Pumas' most used line-out option didn't stop against the All Blacks and yet again showed how critical he is, and will be, when they get their first win. Saturday?

5 Patricio Albacete (Argentina) - Noticeable is one word to describe Toulouse second-row Albacete's return to the international fold against New Zealand on Saturday. The 31-year-old veteran got through a tonne of work in defence but also offered carries when required, showing again his standing in the world game.

4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa) - Another fine display from the youngster who is growing into the role as the Boks' enforcer. Etzebeth was at the coalface of South Africa's forward effort, especially the way he cleaned out the rucks. Was the Boks' go-to man in the line-outs with eight takes and stood out on defence with ten hits.

3 Juan Figallo (Argentina) - Without doubt he has been the standout tighthead in the Rugby Championship this season. Tony Woodcock was the next to feel his full force as the Montpellier prop gave him an hour of pain. Still just 25, one wonders how James Slipper and Benn Robinson will cope with his brute force.

2 Adriaan Strauss (South Africa) - Only played for 50 minutes but put in another polished display. Got the game's opening try after a typically barnstorming run but also impressed in his core duties, especially his throw-ins at the line-outs which gave the Boks the opportunity to launch several attacks.

1 Marcos Ayerza (Argentina) - There was a spell against New Zealand that Figallo won a scrum penalty against Woodcock followed by Ayerza achieving the same against Owen Franks in a future set-piece. Franks did not return for the second-half after suffering a groin injury but take nothing away from Ayerza, the Puma won that personal duel.

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