November Internationals - Team of the Week
November 14, 2010
The trademark: New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams looks to off load the ball in the tackle against Scotland © Getty Images
Chris Ashton Dan Carter Dan Cole Tom Croft Bismarck du Plessis Courtney Lawes Victor Matfield Tendai Mtawarira Mils Muliaina George North Mike Tindall Martyn Williams Sonny Bill Williams Ben Youngs
The latest cross-hemisphere battles produced a fascinating insight into the current balance of power in world rugby and with it a host dazzling individual displays - but who made the grade in our latest Team of the Week?
15. Mils Muliaina (New Zealand)
The All Blacks veteran celebrated his record-equalling Test appearance with two tries against the woeful Scots at Murrayfield. The 30-year-old, who is enjoying a vintage year, benefited from some great work by team-mates Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams but was also a vital link man himself in a glorified training run for the Grand Slam-chasing Kiwis.
14. Chris Ashton (England)
A leading light in a sensational England performance against Australia at Twickenham. His uncanny ability to read play helped him bag his first score with his blistering pace carving out his second. The memory of him speeding down the touchline before cutting inside and leaving Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell - no slouch himself - grasping at air will live long in the memory. Ashton continues to impress on the international stage and be warned - he is still improving.
13. Mike Tindall (England)
The England veteran copped a lot of flak in the wake of his side's recent loss to the All Blacks but responded as expected - with a solid display that proves there is life in the old dog yet. Many appear happy to write the 32-year-old's career off but with this kind of performance he is set to remain a key player in manager Martin Johnson's plans.
12. Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand)
He's only played two Tests but we are already running out of superlatives for the All Blacks' powerhouse. He continues to defy the laws of physics with his amazing ability to distribute the ball with one hand while occupying the interest of two or three defenders with the other. A key player throughout the All Blacks' demolition of the Scots he rightfully claimed the Man of the Match honour. He looks like he's been playing Test rugby all his life but amazingly is still learning the game. The Sonny Bill tour hits Dublin next - watch out Ireland.
11. George North (Wales)
The 18-year-old North announced himself on the international stage with two tries and an assist against South Africa in Cardiff, although here he switches to the other wing due to the commanding presence of the slightly more experienced Ashton. The Springboks' defence parted to provide his first score but he showed impressive composure in claiming Stephen Jones' cross kick for his second. Just a shame his stand out performance came in defeat. One to watch.
10. Dan Carter (New Zealand)
It is easy to take a Carter masterclass for granted due to the regularity of such commanding displays - the latest of which came against the Scots at Murrayfield. It may have last only 50 minutes but that was all he needed to bury the hosts with an enchanting blend of a clinicial passing game, precision kicking and unrivalled vision.
9. Ben Youngs (England)
Another rising star of the international game, the 21-year-old was making only his fourth Test appearance against the Wallabies but set the tone and dominated proceedings like a grizzled veteran. The Leicester No.9 oozed confidence - most notably stepping Wallabies poster boy Quade Cooper on his own line in the lead up to Ashton's stand out score - and was an omnipresent force on one of England's best outings in recent memory.
1. Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa)
The Beast rose to the challenge of facing in-form Wales tight-head Adam Jones - more than holding his own at scrum time. He was also a monster in the loose where he helped inspire the Springboks' decisive comeback. In doing so he racked up a game-changing 17 tackles.
2. Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa)
If you needed a reminder as to who is the best hooker in South Africa then Du Plessis provided just that with an impressive display against Wales in Cardiff. The gainline proved no barrier with the ball in hand and in defence he conjured a couple of key turnovers while also helping to shackle the Welsh with a superb work-rate and tackle count.
3. Dan Cole (England)
Denied the much anticipated scrum showdown along with his front-row colleagues, Cole offered the latest reminder of his international class with a bristling display in the loose against the Wallabies at Twickenham.
4. Courtney Lawes (England)
Another of England's new breed, Lawes lent his sizeable frame to England's lung-busting effort at Twickenham. Ever hungry for the ball, the 21-year-old galloped up and down England's HQ all day long, chalking up an impressive 35m with the ball in hand including a delightful pass to set Ashton away for his second score. When he wasn't stretching the Wallabies' defence he was shackling their much-vaunted back division.
5. Victor Matfield (South Africa)
The Springboks veteran was celebrating becoming his country's most-capped international and marked the occasion with a typically dominant display to lead his side to victory and keep their Grand Slam hopes alive. He may not boast the industry of the considerably younger Lawes but his exemplary tackle count and imperious lineout presence underlined his status as one of the greats. Also crashed over for the Boks' decisive second try after a powerful surge and intelligent line.
6. Tom Croft (England)
Another who relished England's expansive approach to the task of devouring the Wallabies. His ability to dominate in all areas of the game make him a potent threat and that was again the case at Twickenham where he gleefully ran with the ball, cut down opposing attackers and leapt high and mighty at the lineout.
7. Martyn Williams (Wales)
Another old stager to offer a reminder of his class. Veteran openside Williams only reclaimed his place in the starting line-up due to an injury to Sam Warburton but he made the most of his opportunity - showing the classy handling and link play that his young rival cannot yet offer at the top level.
8. Nick Easter (England)
The England No.8 continued his recent reinvention with an industrious display in defence and attack. The strong-running 32-year-old has brought a new engery to his game of late and it paid huge dividends at Twickenham. Time and time again he took the game to the Wallabies and he was at the heart of the defensive effort that laid the foundation for a famous win.
Did we get our selection right? Let us know your thoughts!
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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