15. Zane Kirchner
Finished off a scintillating Springbok attack with an explosive step off his right foot to beat the covering Israel Folau. He wasn’t kept busy in defence, but kicked solidly from hand, and was powerful when given the opportunity to advance on the Australian line.
14. Ben Smith
World rugby’s form winger scorched through the Argentine midfield defence thanks to a lovely running line and delayed pass from Ma’a Nonu, rounding Pumas full-back Juan Martin Herndandez for a brilliant try. He showed his strength in the dying minutes too, brushing off the tackle of Nicolas Sanchez to dot down and seal a crucial bonus point for his side.
13. Tevita Kuridrani
His performance as part of a new-look backline was one of precious few positives for the Wallabies on Saturday. The 22-year-old made some brilliant hits in midfield, recording sixteen tackles overall, and showed glimpses of offensive capabilities.
12. Ma’a Nonu
The man who has infamously failed to win a Super Rugby contract for next season showed why he is rightly ranked among the world’s top centres. He provided two wonderful assists as the All Blacks grabbed the all-important bonus point. Firstly, he sent Sam Cane over in the corner with some intelligent running and distribution, and then put Smith clear for his opening try with a deft pop pass that completely undid the Pumas defence.
11. Julian Savea
Good awareness combined with blistering pace saw Savea capitalise on scrappy, broken play to bag a brilliant sixty-metre try. He didn’t see too much of the ball, but was a consistent threat when possession did come his way. The big winger will, however, be disappointed not to have added to his tally as he fumbled a long kick through with the try-line beckoning.
10. Aaron Cruden
Another classy display on Saturday from the All Blacks’ fly-half. He marshalled his attack well, frequently threatening the Argentine defence, and kicked intelligently from hand. He had little to do in defence, and two missed shots at goal provide the only real blot on his copybook.
9. Fourie du Preez
The veteran Springbok was excellent in the first half at Newlands, showcasing his brilliant distribution and slick service from the breakdown. His time in Japan has added a little more zip to what was already one of the best passes in world rugby, and the timing of his release to Adriaan Strauss for the hooker’s try was superb. He faded a little in the second forty, as the Boks stagnated a little, and the Wallabies began to offer more in attack through Will Genia.
1. Marcos Ayerza
Part of a front row that demolished the much-vaunted All Black pack at the scrummage, with the Leicester Tigers man giving Owen Franks a torrid time, and winning a number of penalties at the set piece. He also showed up well around the loose, offering himself as a carrying option, and chipping in with six tackles.
2. Adriaan Strauss
In Strauss and Bismarck du Plessis, South Africa have arguably the two top hookers in world rugby at their disposal. The blonde bombshell was brilliant in the loose, with some big carries hurting the Australian defence, and eventually leading to a try from close range. He was also a threat at the breakdown, using his strength to disrupt Wallaby ball, and win penalties or turnovers.
3. Juan Figallo
The Montpellier man was outstanding in the scrum once again, taking centurion Tony Woodcock to the proverbial cleaners time and again. At just 25, he remains some way off the age generally regarded as the “peak” for props, but at present, is proving himself worthy of a spot among the game’s top tightheads.
4. Eben Etzebeth
The young Sprinbok second row was outstanding in the loose, with some typically powerful carrying work. He secured all his own lineout ball, and was a disruptive aerial presence for the Wallabies. In defence, too, his work-rate was excellent, making a total of twelve tackles, with none missed.
5. Patricio Albacete
Argentina have badly missed the veteran lock’s direction and prowess at the lineout, and the difference his return from injury made to that particular facet of play was palpable. The 31-year-old carried very well, beating two defenders, and gaining a total of fourteen metres with ball in hand. He also contributed to a very impressive Pumas’ defensive effort, making thirteen tackles, and frequently driving his opponents backwards at the collision.
6. Willem Alberts
One of a number of devastating Springbok ball-carriers, and part of a balanced but monstrous back row, Alberts consistently made ground with ball in hand, getting his side on the front foot. He was largely solid without the ball, making eight tackles, and gained eighteen metres from his assaults on the Wallabies defence.
7. Sam Cane
Once again filling in for the injured McCaw, Cane’s pace and power in the tackle came to the fore, as he finished off a good attacking move in the corner. The Kiwi beat a total of five defenders – an excellent stat for any forward – and chalked up ten tackles.
8. Juan Leguizamon
The Pumas number eight was ferocious in the tackle alongside many of his colleagues, knocking their Kiwi counterparts back with notable regularity. His total count was eight tackles made, and he was typically abrasive with ball in hand, though his opportunities to attack were fairly limited.
By Jamie Lyall (@JLyall93)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images