1. Tony Woodcock
The veteran loosehead acquitted himself well in the scrum against the much-vaunted Jannie Du Plessis, and showed up well in the loose, making six tackles.
2. Stephen Moore
By far the most difficult decision to make this week in the wake of the controversy at Eden Park. Had Bismarck Du Plessis spent longer than his total of around thirty minutes on the pitch, he would almost certainly have been my selection. However, we all know what happened there, and Moore’s industrious performance in the loose in Perth went largely under the radar. The Wallaby hooker posted some impressive tackle stats, was busy at the breakdown and largely solid with his throwing. Could do little to prevent his side’s struggle in the scrum.
3. Juan Figallo
Some excellent work in the loose, including one thumping midfield hit early on, added to another dominant scrummaging performance from the Pumas’ tighthead.
4. Brodie Retallick
Topped a series of impressive performances in recent weeks with a second-row masterclass on Saturday. Again, got through a tremendous amount of work in the loose, making thirty-three metres with ball in hand and ten tackles, and was rewarded with a well-taken try.
5. Eben Etzebeth
Never one to shy away from a physical contest, the young Springbok put in a huge defensive shift as his side struggled to contain the All Blacks in the second half. Won all of his lineout ball, and made thirteen tackles.
6. Scott Fardy
Up against the ferocious Fernandez Lobbe, Fardy fronted up at the breakdown – an area where the Wallabies have struggled badly in the Championship so far. Alongside Michael Hooper, provided energy and solidity in defence.
7. Pablo Matera
The Pumas openside showed up superbly around the pitch, making a nuisance of himself at the breakdown, and never failing to offer himself as a carrying option. His only pitfall is the number of penalties he concedes, but guile and nous in that respect will come with experience.
8. Kieran Read
A barnstorming performance from the All Blacks’ stand-in captain, including a brace of tries. Carried extremely well, and was typically uncompromising in defence. Only a fumble just short of the line prevented a famous hat-trick.
9. Nic White
Plenty of attention came the way of the Brumbies scrum-half, with Ewen McKenzie opting to start him in favour of the illustrious Will Genia, and against a formidable Argentine back row. White brought plenty of zip to the Wallabies’ attack, and kicked intelligently from the base of the ruck in difficult conditions. Only one misplaced touch-finder detracted from a good display with the boot.
10. Beauden Barrett
The precocious Kiwi fly-half took control of the game after Dan Carter’s injury just fifteen minutes in. Barrett looked dangerous in attack, beating a total of five defenders, and making the break that led to Retallick’s try.
11. Nick Cummins
The weather conditions meant that Saturday’s clash in Perth was not a game for wingers, but the “Honey Badger” equipped himself well when called upon, with some dangerous running and one massive hit.
12. Felipe Contepomi
Another classy performance from the veteran centre, providing the assist for Leguizamon’s try and showing intelligence in attack.
13. Conrad Smith
Hard to overstate his importance to the New Zealand backline. This week, chipped in with a simple assist to put Retallick under the posts, and once more controlled things in midfield as the Blacks began to assert their dominance.
14. Ben Smith
Beavered away out wide, and was able to gain good ground with ball in hand. Not given the opportunities this week to have as big an impact on the game as he did in the opening the rounds.
15. Zane Kirchner
Recovered well from a somewhat shaky start under the high ball to turn in a quietly effective performance. He was direct and powerful with ball in hand, and kicked well throughout.
By Jamie Lyall (@JLyall93)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images