Sparkling Pumas backs Nicolas Sanchez, Bautista Delguy and Ramiro Moyano also make our selection
It was a week to remember in the Rugby Championship with the undermanned and under siege Wallabies battling to a 23-18 victory over the Springboks in Brisbane and the All Blacks and Pumas playing out a nine-try thriller in Nelson, eventually won by the world champions by a flattering margin of 46-24.
There was some gutsy defence, especially by Australia, some stunning attacking play by the Pumas, Ramiro Moyano’s solo try among the year’s best, and the usual smattering of New Zealand brilliance.
South Africa had a night to forget in their disappointing loss but two of their pack still made our 15 which is dominated by five All Blacks and five Pumas with three Wallabies completing the selection.
Here is our XV from round three:
This is a tight one between the Puma and Ben Smith, who also had a great game, but Boffelli edges it thanks to his well taken try in the second half.
Superb game from the 21-year-old as he kept the All Blacks busy all day, making nine runs for 47 metres, two clean beaks and beating four defenders.
The All Blacks looked to have real issues when Ngani Laumape when off injured but Lienert-Brown was unstoppable off the bench, 11 runs for 62 metres, one clean break and five defenders beaten.
First game back in the starting XV for over two years and the Leicester man did not disappoint. Took his try well at a crucial point in the game, eight tackles with no misses and 15 points with the boot.
His solo try was one of the best in years as his blistering pace outfoxed Richie Mo’unga and TJ Perenara, his overall stats were just as good – 10 runs for 106 metres, three clean breaks and six defenders beaten.
Outstanding performance from the Pumas fly-half. He kicked well as usual but with ball in hand he was devastating, 13 runs for 43 metres, three clean breaks, five defenders beaten and even three off-loads.
With Aaron Smith rested the ‘Canes No9 took his chance with a superb overall game. 76 passes, three runs, 21 metres, one clean break, two well taken tries and one try-saving tackle on Delguy.
Another peerless effort from the All Blacks skipper. In good position for his try, he made six runs for 20 metres with one clean break, as well as defending strongly, making 10 tackles with two missed.
Took his chance in the starting line-up with both hands; and made a huge impact with and without the ball; a massive 18 tackles with just two missed, while he broke through the Pumas defence at will with 15 runs for 63 metres, three clean breaks, five defenders beaten and a barnstorming try
On a disappointing night for the Boks the captain was one of few bright spots; eight runs for 47 metres, two clean breaks and seven defenders beaten. Also made seven tackles without a blemish.
The Pumas workhorse put in a full 80-minute shift in both defence and attack; he took the ball up all day into a black wall with 16 runs for 17 metres, also made 12 tackles with just one miss.
A tight call between Arnold and Franco Mostert, but the Wallaby’s efforts saw his team over the line so he gets the nod; did the hard yards with nine runs for 11 metres, plus six tackles and just one miss.
The introduction of ‘Tongan Thor’ into the match on 48 minutes changed the game as he single-handedly transformed the Wallabies’ scrum, exhausted the Boks defence with three bullocking runs.
In Dane Coles’ absence the Crusaders’ rake continues to shine; he scrummaged well (as usual), was a hand-full in attack with seven runs for 41 metres and two clean breaks, plus 11 tackles.
The Boks destroyed the Wallabies scrum early and much of that was down to Kitshoff, as usual he also had a busy game in the loose with six runs and 11 tackles without a miss.