Team of the Week: November Tests

Date published: November 21 2016

After the third round of international matches this November, we sat down to select who stood out and choose our Team of the Week.

Once again there were plenty of enthralling games on the schedule over the weekend, with Italy’s win over South Africa and New Zealand’s response against Ireland standing out. England also impressed against Fiji.

Without further ado, let’s see who made our selection below.

November Tests: Team of the Week

15 Catalin Fercu (Romania): A key figure in Romania’s win over the Canada, Fercu scored one of his side’s three tries as he consistently broke the defensive line, making over 70 metres. Stood up well as the last line of defence too with eleven tackles. He gets the nod ahead of Wales full-back Liam Williams and Japan’s Kotaro Matsushima, the latter making an impressive 113 metres.

14 Akihito Yamada (Japan): He was a constant threat to Wales on Saturday, making 116 metres from 14 carries. Yamada deserved his try and sees off the excellent Israel Dagg and Semesa Rokoduguni, who stood out for New Zealand and England on the wing.

13 Tevita Kuridrani (Australia): That finish was enough alone to see him make the cut. Kuridrani showed unreal ability to dot down in the corner for the Wallabies and was busy throughout, edging out two-try Malakai Fekitoa of New Zealand, who also did well.

12 Wesley Fofana (France): Another classy shift from the French star and but for a strong debut from Kyle Godwin he would have caused Australia more problems. Godwin was strong going forward and defensively as was Rey Lee-Lo in a losing cause for Samoa.

11 Elliot Daly (England): A surprise selection out on the wing but Daly was hungry for work against Fiji, working well in tandem with George Ford when he came off his wing. Made 93 metres from his 11 carries, beating several defenders, while also scoring his first try for his country. Virimi Vakatawa meanwhile was impressive again for France as he made it four tries in just two matches.

10 Beauden Barrett (New Zealand): A mini dip in form seems behind him now as Barrett showed his speed and other strengths against Ireland. He also kicked well off the tee and beats England’s George Ford and Wales drop-goal hero Sam Davies to our 10 spot.

9 Greig Laidlaw (Scotland): Scotland’s Mr Reliable stepped up again to send over the match-winning penalty against Argentina with time up on the clock at Murrayfield, helping his country to bounce back from that tough loss to the Wallabies. Laidlaw showed strong leadership as always and sees off Australia’s Will Genia and Italy scrum-half Giorgio Bronzini here, who both played well.

8 Sergio Parisse (Italy): It was clear to see how much that win over South Africa meant to Parisse. He pours everything into the Azzurri shirt with each game and led his men to an historic win in Florence on Saturday. Mentions must go to Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip and the powerful Amanaki Mafi who were equally excellent for Ireland and Japan in Dublin and Cardiff respectively.

7 David Pocock (Australia): The Wallabies really are a different team with Pocock in the mix. 18 tackles and four turnovers won made him such a nuisance to les Bleus. He edges a warrior-like performance from Sean O’Brien and Mamuka Gorgodze and Charles Ollivon, with O’Brien picking himself up from an early injury to be real physical force in Dublin. Pocock though gets the nod.

6 Simone Favaro (Italy): One of the Azzurri‘s stars in their historic triumph over the Springboks. Favaro did well in defence, making 12 tackles and was a willing carrier, gaining 28 metres from nine hit-ups and comes in ahead of Pablo Matera of Argentina.

5 Sam Whitelock (New Zealand): One of the world champions’ unsung heroes in their triumph over Ireland, Whitelock delivered a solid shift at the coalface of his side’s forward effort. Was particularly impressive in his defensive duties and finished with 20 tackles made. Rob Simmons of Australia also impressed.

4 Marco Fuser (Italy): Another one of Italy’s heroes in Florence, Fuser performed well at his core duties which helped his team to get the better of a big Bok pack. Won three clean lineout balls, defended well, especially on the fringes of the rucks and mauls, where he made seven tackles.

3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland): Followed up his memorable performance in Ireland’s win over the All Blacks in Chicago with another impressive display in the rematch in Dublin. Scrummed well and was a willing ball carrier, gaining 15 metres in the process. Also did his bit in defence with four tackles.

2 Dane Coles (New Zealand): Another fine showing from arguably the best hooker in the world in hostile conditions at the Aviva Stadium. Coles gained 42 metres with ball in hand from six runs with one clean break, and four defenders beaten. Also caught the eye in defence with 11 hits. Beats out Italy’s Ornel Gega.

1 Mako Vunipola (England): One of several England players whose game has flourished under the guidance of Eddie Jones, Vunipola delivered another fine all-round effort at Twickenham. Did his basics well and was lively on attack with 15 metres gained from three carries which included a clean break, two defenders beaten and a try assist. New Zealand’s Joe Moody also caught the eye.