Team of the week: The best players from the Tri-Nations and Nations Cup combine

We pick the standout players from the weekend after New Zealand thumped Argentina in the Tri-Nations, while and Ireland, England and France won in the Autumn Nations Cup…

15. David Havili (Tasman)

Tasman secured their second Mitre 10 Cup Premiership title in a row and it was skipper Havili who kicked them to victory against Auckland. In a tight contest, Havili kicked the winning penalty in the 70th minute as Tasman became only the second province to win back-to-back Premiership titles.

14. Will Jordan (New Zealand)

Quite an impact off the bench for Jordan who was playing in only his second Test. Two tries against the Pumas secured New Zealand the bonus-point win.

13. Giorgi Kveseladze (Georgia)

Georgia had not scored a point against Scotland or England and many predicted Ireland would keep them out as well. Up stepped Kveseladze, who produced the moment of the match with a superb try.

12. Jonathan Danty (France)

Showed plenty of power to score his first try for France. made some big carries and defended well too.

11. Gabin Villiere (France)

Made some lovely runs to show off his pace and was rewarded with a debut Test try after France won a turnover at the lineout. Spotted a gap and burnt through – enough time to kiss the ball on the way over too.

10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins)

Harlequins had not won at Franklin’s Gardens since 2012 but that all changed as they demolished the Saints 49-29 with Smith pulling all the strings for Quins. He set up two tries for Mike Brown and Alex Dombrandt with some pin-point kicking and scored their sixth as well. Added five conversions and three penalties to his tally.

9. Ben Youngs (England)

Had an armchair ride thanks to the dominance of his forwards but certainly made the most of it. Kicked well and took the right options.

1. Mako Vunipola (England)

Huge afternoon from the rampaging Saracens prop whose carries helped sweep the initiative away from Wales when they threatened an upset. A mention for Exeter’s Ben Moon, who was sensational against Bath, as well.

2 Peato Mauvaka (France)

Accurate at the lineout and put in a strong performance come scrum time. Very strong in defence too, making 14 tackles.

3. Nepo Laulala (New Zealand)

Had a massive impact at the set-piece in his first start of the year. Really tore into the Pumas’ pack making sure they did not get the upper hand. A big carrier for the All Blacks too.

4. Sam Skinner (Exeter)

A powerhouse performance from Skinner who helped the Chiefs absolutely beast Bath! Caused chaos in the lineout and rampaged through with some big carries. Controlled the maul and was big in defence too.

5. Joe Launchbury (England)

Launchbury was one of the stand-out performers against Wales as he got stuck into their forward pack. He may not make the headlines like Maro Itoje does but his contribution in the tight is immense and he helps give England those inches that make the difference in Test rugby.

Another afternoon as the work horse up front but his contribution was immense. The Wasps lock is enjoying a revival in the engine room.

6. Akira Ioane (New Zealand)

A mention for Sekou Macalou who was impressive for France, but Ioane was outstanding for the All Blacks. On this performance, Ioane must have secured the No 6 jersey! Defended strongly and met the Puma forwards head on – stripped Fecunda Isa of the ball close to his line. Big in the lineout as well. A mention for Tom Curry, though.

7. Sam Underhill (England)

Quite sensational from Underhill who stood out with some impressive runs, including a couple of offloads as well. His tackling was top notch as usual, and he battled hard at the breakdown, winning several crucial turnovers.

8. Ardie Savea (New Zealand)

Savea was not going to let the likes of Pablo Matera and Marcus Kremer make their mark on this game! Savea has a massive engine and just kept on coming. Made his trademark pacey carries, beating seven defenders and well deserved his try.


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