With the World Cup edging closer, the Summer Nations Series continued over the weekend and Two Cents Rugby selects his top five players from the action.
The YouTube star opted for two Springboks with the rest of his quintet completed by an Italian, Irishman and Frenchman as three backs and two forwards make it.
Two Cents Rugby’s top five players from the weekend
Ange Capuozzo (Italy)
Generally, when Italy is playing and 50 points are scored, the Azzurri find themselves on the receiving end. This time though it was Italy piling the points onto a poor Romanian side.
Romania getting an early red card certainly didn’t help, but it did offer a chance for Italy’s backs to really cut loose. Italy racked up a whopping 1,100 run metres in their performance, of which Ange Capuozzo contributed 248.
His first crossing from a charged down ball in his own 22 was one of the tries of the year. The first to react on loose ball, Capuozzo displayed his footballing skills before showing off his pace to race 60 metres and score.
His second was pretty impressive too as gathered a Toa Halafihi offload and dived over in the corner.
Stats wise the full-back’s five clean breaks are more than England managed as a team against Ireland.
It’s great to see Capuozzo return for Italy and you can be sure Pool A rivals New Zealand and France will have kept an eye on that game.
Cian Prendergast (Ireland)
Cian Prendergast almost felt like the odd man out in the Irish back-row this past weekend. With World Player of the Year Josh van der Flier on one side and 90+ cap Peter O’Mahony on the other, you could forgive the 23-year-old if his name didn’t stand out as much, especially when Six Nations Player of the Championship nominee Caelan Doris is waiting on the bench.
But Prendergast seemed to thrive under the pressure and keeps himself in the Rugby World Cup conversation after this shift.
He looked for work and carried more times and for more metres than any of the Irish forwards. He was also one of only three Irish players to get his tackle count into double figures, but perhaps even more crucially was his work-rate at the breakdown.
If we look back at Ireland’s first try, it’s Prendergast who initially secures the ball back as Ben Earl tries to turn Mack Hansen over. Likewise, Ireland’s third try sees Maro Itoje trying to pilfer but Prendergast stubbornly refusing to be shifted off the ball.
He even had a hand in Ireland’s fourth try by popping the ball to Jamison Gibson-Park instead of having a go himself from close range.
It was a standout showing from one of Ireland’s less experienced players.
Canan Moodie (South Africa)
South Africa have some serious talent out wide, with World Cup winners Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, and emerging stars Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie.
One point of difference with the 20-year-old Moodie though, is his serious bit of height. At 1.90m (6’2) Moodie is a great option for aerial balls, and he has some serious wheels as well. Contesting in the air he helped set up Jesse Kriel’s first try as Moodie won the battle against Cai Evans.
On his way to getting player of the match, Moodie bagged two tries, the first capping off a well worked bit of pressure which still required him to show some agility in his finishing. His second was a great read as he intercepted Welsh ball and went through in a canter.
Defensively he was beaten by the Welsh attack early in the second half, but showed some real desperation to run down Sam Costelow.
A very encouraging performance and there’s some real competition for places on the South African wings.
Jonathan Danty (France)
When you think of France’s inside centre Jonathan Danty, you often think of the 110kg man’s powerful carries. However, against Fiji this weekend it was more of a defensive masterclass than an open running game.
15 from 15 tackles from Danty makes him not only France’s third top tackler of the game, but also the top tackler of the week for any backline player.
Add to his tackles his ability to win turnover ball, Danty is credited with three turnovers in the game which is equal first for the week. His turnovers won at the start of each half directly led to penalties which Melvyn Jaminet duly slotted.
Ball in hand he contributed six passes, six carries and broke a tackle.
Danty and midfield partner Arthur Vincent couldn’t stop Fijian Tevita Ikanivere from close range, but ultimately it was a big defensive shift from the French number 12.
🔥 Pieter-Steph du Toit x Jesse Kriel.
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) August 19, 2023
Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa)
It’s been a tough few years for 2019’s World Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit. After having multiple surgeries on his leg, it looked like the Springbok loose forward would not be able to recapture his previous form. However, if his performance against Wales is anything to go by, he might just be getting there at the right time.
Pinged early for being offside, Du Toit was perhaps a bit over-eager to get involved. From then on though, his timing was perfect.
The highlight reel moment will be his second half intercept which shut down Wales’ momentum and sent team-mate Kriel over for his second try.
His own score, a close-range carry through Welsh defenders with RG Snyman pushing him on, was perhaps less flashy but showed a bit of Du Toit’s power game. He was even close to bagging a second but was held up in the process.
Stats wise he finished as South Africa’s top tackler for the match with 12 from 13 and was also the top Springbok forward for carries and metres with 14 and 41 respectively.
A big shift from the big man.