Monday 21 October 2019

Autumn Internationals team of the weekend: Eight Irish All Black slayers make the XV

Peter O'Mahony rose above all others this weekend. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Peter O'Mahony rose above all others this weekend. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Ben Coles

Ireland rightly grabbed the headlines with that second win in three Tests against New Zealand, on a weekend where the selection of results made next year's Rugby World Cup seem like a far more open contest.

Naturally Joe Schmidt's side dominate our selection, although eight nations are represented.

15. Rob Kearney

Ireland

Lucky to stay on the field admittedly after that mid-air collision but the veteran full-back once again proved his doubters wrong with a reassuring performance at the back. Persistent too with ball in hand, making a dozen carries.

14. Teddy Thomas

France

A brace for the Racing 92 wing, with his strong Test form carrying on from the Six Nations earlier this year. Thomas cracked through Argentina's defence on three occasions and edges in narrowly ahead of Liam Williams, who came up with a spectacular diving finish against Tonga.

13. Huw Jones

Scotland

Garry Ringrose had a big game in Dublin but it's hard to overlook Jones, who became the focal point of Scotland's attacking game with Stuart Hogg off the field. The Springboks could not pin him down, with Jones making 77 metres and laying on an assist.

12. Ryan Crotty

New Zealand

Into the side for the injured Sonny Bill Williams but it's hard to understand why Crotty would ever be left out. Defensively he was excellent, racking up 20 tackles in midfield, missing none.

11. Jacob Stockdale

Ireland

So we now have two world class wingers with youth on their side and impressive strike rates already at Test level. Stockdale must think this professional rugby lark is all a breeze, a lot like Rieko Ioane. Scored a brilliant try in Dublin on an evening where the Ulster wing beat five defenders and made 76 metres.

10. Johnny Sexton

Ireland

Majestic. Sexton, without his formidable half-back partner Conor Murray, orchestrated Ireland's win over New Zealand to perfection. The emotion he showed after helping to thump Beauden Barrett into touch before departing due to cramp was most unlike him. Stepped up to make 11 tackles too.

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9. Kieran Marmion

Ireland

Not every box-kick was on the money but Marmion arguably surpassed expectations, ensuring Murray's absence at scrum-half wasn't a problem. Covered well in defence and looked the part in the biggest Test of the year.

1. Cian Healy

Ireland

The sight of Healy puffing, doing his best to haul in as much as air as possible when he was replaced by Jack McGrath showed that he gave everything he had. Ireland's veteran loosehead relished the scrum and departed with a dozen tackles to his name.

2. Rory Best

Ireland

Another old-timer silencing the critics. The lineout had its moments of concern but Best's leadership shone through here, always a calm presence. Ten tackles (none missed) is a fine return as well for the Ulsterman.

3. Taniela Tupou

Australia

Tighthead props don't usually get up to this kind of madness with ball in hand, which is why Tupou - the prop you know as 'Tongan Thor' - is already a star attraction. Grabbed his second Test try on a busy 14-carry afternoon for the Wallabies.

4. Jake Ball

Wales

Played his first Test in almost a year since dislocating his shoulder against the All Blacks, and Ball pressed his claims to start next week against the Springboks. Brilliant carry at the start of the second half paved the way for Steff Evans' try and his work-rate - 11 tackles, 11 carries - was superb.

5. James Ryan

Ireland

An absolute freak. Ryan's potential Lions partnership with Maro Itoje in 2021 cannot come around soon enough. Ireland's huge talent in the second row made 20 tackles against the All Blacks, and his physicality against Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock was admirable.

6. Peter O'Mahony

Ireland

Immense. O'Mahony once again was a titan in Ireland's back-row. There were so many highlights: the turnovers, the big tackles, but the pick of the bunch was the sight of O'Mahony beating Retallick and Ben Smith to a dangerous kick in desperation. Ran his body into the dirt for the cause.

7. Mark Wilson

England

If there was a positive to England's near-disaster against Japan it was another standout performance from their man from the north. Wilson has been the find of the autumn for Eddie Jones. Ended up on the scoresheet but more importantly weighed in with 21 tackles.

8. Michael Leitch

Japan

Technically played at six but the Japan captain deserves as much as praise as he can get. Superbly well-taken try at Twickenham and look at these numbers: 10 carries, 88 metres made, five clean breaks, seven defenders beaten. That is world class.

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