Test XV of the Week

 Dec 04,2012
Written by: David Morris

Now that the dust has settled in the northern hemisphere, SA Rugby looks at the players who stole the show in the final week of the end-of-year Test series.

The big winners were England, who put world champions New Zealand to the sword thanks to a record 39-21 victory at Twickenham. And the Wallabies ended their tour on a high after beating Wales at the death in Cardiff.

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

15 Leigh Halfpenny (Wales): Once again, Wales' Mr Consistency delivered another magnificent display, kicking Wales to within seconds of victory before he was carried off injured. Strong British and Irish Lions contender for the number fifteen jersey for next year's tour Down Under.

14 Cory Jane (New Zealand): One of the few players that stood out in an otherwise deflated All Blacks team, Jane was a constant threat to the English defence with his strength and angles of running - one of which was responsible for setting up Kieran Read for New Zealand's second try. Mention too for Wales' Alex Cuthbert.

13 Manu Tuilagi (England): New Zealand were hit by a vomiting bug in the week, but not as hard as they were hit by England's destroyer in-chief. The 21-year-old Samoan produced his best display in an England jersey, giving his team plenty of forward momentum and was instrumental in all the hosts' tries - bagging one for himself in the process.

12 Brad Barritt (England): The South African midfielder also dished out a solid 80 minutes for his adopted country - tackling hard and running strongly. Barritt's fine performance earned him his first Test try which sparked England's eight-minute blitz, which saw the hosts cross for three tries during that time.

11 Julian Savea (New Zealand): Tough call to leave out England's full-back cum wing Mike Brown - who performed admirably - but Savea's brace can't be ignored. New Zealand's powerful left wing put his derailing team back on track soon after half-time, and his second score at the death limited the damage somewhat.

10 Owen Farrell (England): This week's listing of Farrell alongside Dan Carter on the shortlist as IRB World Player of the Year was greeted with incredulity in the rugby world, but it was the youngster who looked the most accomplished number 10 on duty at Twickenham. Having played second fiddle to Toby Flood for the most part of November, all of Farrell's confidence came flooding back (no pun intended) as he stamped his authority on the game - especially with his boot, in which he contributed 17 points.

9 Ben Youngs (England): On a Saturday where none of the scrum-halves really stood out head and shoulders above the rest, Youngs gets the nod purely for making opposite number Aaron Smith - who has had a stellar debut season playing for the All Blacks - look very ordinary indeed.

8 Wycliff Palu (Australia): This was a bit harder to choose with England's Ben Morgan and Toby Faletau of Wales both running strongly and tackling hard for their respective teams. All Blacks number eight Kieran Read never give up, but his intercept pass to Tuilagi opened the door a little wider for Palu who in the end bashed it down following his barnstorming performance at the base of the scrum for Australia. He was rather fortunate to escape a yellow card after a high tackle on Wales hooker Matthew Rees though. 

7 David Pocock (Australia): A winning return for the Wallabies fetcher, who not only bossed the breakdown but carried the ball strongly throughout. Kudos to England's Chris Robshaw too after leading his side to a record win over New Zealand.

6 Tom Wood (England): A tireless display from the Saints flanker whose Trojan work-rate earned him a deserved man-of-the-match gong.  England's foremost ball carrier in the back row was given plenty of opportunity to go forward and gleefully accepted the challenge of soaking up numerous New Zealand tackles on the gainline.

5 Nathan Sharpe (Australia): It's debatable whether Sharpe was the top lock over the weekend. But we just couldn't leave out the veteran playing in his last game for Australia - unless he's coaxed out of retirement once again!

4 Joe Launchbury (England): Got through a serious amount of work in 66 minutes, and never stopped working in the heat of battle. His replacement Coutney Lawes carried the batton over the finish line and was also a menacing figure in the short time spent on the pitch.

3 Dan Cole (England): Fronted up to the physical presence of the All Blacks front-row in the scrum and helped turn the screw when England were on top. Mention too for Genthin Jenkins who made his presence felt against Australia.

2 Tom Youngs (England): Good darts in the line-out and held up well in the scrum. Got through a mountain of donkey work at ruck time too, and helped England to dominate the breakdown - also ever present in England's defence effort. Has improved with each game through the November series

1 Alex Corbisiero (England): Scrummaged strongly, while the US born prop was also eager and energetic in the loose.


Tags: International |  England | 

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