Rugby World Cup team of the week: Six All Blacks stand up in brilliant win against Ireland

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Oct 17, 2023, 00:40

ANALYSIS: The Rugby World Cup quarterfinals delivered drama and quality in equal measure.

The All Blacks-Ireland and South Africa-France games, in particular, were full of outstanding rugby as the heavyweights went toe-to-toe for 80-plus minutes.

The All Blacks were outstanding against Ireland, working their way through two yellow cards and hitting the Irish with some surgical attacks.

As a result, six All Blacks force their way into Stuff’s team of the week.

15 Beauden Barrett (New Zealand): Did superbly to retain possession when James Lowe flattened him after the chip-and-regather that set up Leicester Fainga’anuku’s try.

14 Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina): Sixteen points off the tee in the 29-17 win against Wales as he punished them with that superb right boot.

13 Jesse Kriel (South Africa): A masterclass in rush defence and set up Cheslin Kolbe’s try with a superbly weighted kick.

12 Jordie Barrett (New Zealand): His goalline defence on Ireland replacement hooker Ronan Kelleher arguably saved the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup.

11 Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa): Charged down Thomas Ramos’ conversion attempt in one crucial moment in the quarterfinal.

10 Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand): The architect of Will Jordan’s try from an excellent set-piece move, but the moment of his match was a thunderous (and legal) tackle on Bundee Aki that stopped the powerhouse midfielder in his tracks.

9 Antoine Dupont (France): Desperately unlucky to finish on the losing side after a compelling return from a facial fracture.

8 Ardie Savea (New Zealand): Will surely be a World Rugby player of the year contender if the All Blacks make the final. He’s been that good.

7 Sam Cane (New Zealand): Set the tone with a big shot on Ireland No 8 Caelan Doris and showed outstanding anticipation to mow down flying Ireland fullback Hugo Keenan in the second half.

6 Courtney Lawes (England): Played to the whistle perfectly – much to Fiji’s annoyance – as he messed up the quality of Fiji’s ruck ball.

5 Maro Itoje (England): Brodie Retallick was also outstanding, but Itoje is returning to peak form and the pressure England exerted on Fiji’s lineout was game altering.

4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa): The world’s best lock will be the stuff of French nightmares for years to come after he denied them a certain try and then rampaged over the line himself.

3 Tyrel Lomax (New Zealand): Had barely played any rugby for two months but won the scrum battle against Ireland strongman Andrew Porter.

2 Bongi Mbonambi (South Africa): Man of the match performance as the hooker kept going for 75 minutes to allow the Boks to be creative with their bench selections.

1 Cyril Baille (France): If there is a weakness with France, it’s that the quality of their front-row replacements falls away sharply. But Baille, with two tries, was outstanding.

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