Rugby Championship: Two Cents Rugby picks his top five players from Round Three

Two Cents Rugby picks his top five players from the Rugby Championship round. Credit: Alamy

Two Cents Rugby picks his top five players from the Rugby Championship round. Credit: Alamy

With the final round of this year’s Rugby Championship in the books, Two Cents Rugby has picked his five star players of the weekend.

The YouTube star has this week selected four forwards and just one back as the efforts up front clearly impressed him during Saturday’s two matches.

Two Cents Rugby’s top five players from Round Three

Scott Barrett (New Zealand)

The All Blacks had Sam Whitelock available for selection for the first Bledisloe Cup clash, so the question was raised as to what is the best starting duo for the second-row?

With his performance, Scott Barrett certainly made it hard for the coaches to move him from that number five jersey for the foreseeable future. He set up the first try with a bone shattering hit on Australia scrum-half Tate McDermott, with the Wallaby hit so hard on his own line that the ball spilled out and allowed Shannon Frizell to pounce for a try.

Barrett followed that up with another 10 tackles throughout the game, without missing any. He also carried with real power, breaking three tackles and making 42 run metres, which were more than any other lock managed over the weekend.

He won lineout ball, including the one which led to the Codie Taylor maul try, with his performance across the park possibly good enough that the coaches again look at him to have a week on the flank, but I hope he stays where he is.

Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)

Another lock makes the list this week in the form of the Springbok, Eben Etzebeth.

He was in barnstorming form against the Pumas, highlighted by his try out wide where he bulldozed over fly-half Santiago Carreras on his way to the line.

The Springboks struggled for possession, but Etzebeth still managed eight carries and broke three tackles and even had a clean break.

However, the second half for South Africa was more about putting in a defensive shift as they repelled waves of Argentinian attacks at Ellis Park.

Etzebeth managed a huge 16 from 16 tackles, making him the second highest tackler of the game, and one of few to not miss any.

He won three lineouts as well and big Eben continues to be one of the premier locks in world rugby.

Angus Bell (Australia)

It wasn’t the best day at the office for the Wallabies, especially given they lost two of their props to injury. However, despite those setbacks, Angus Bell on the loosehead showed why he’ll be a key man in Eddie Jones’ setup going forward, especially if James Slipper has to shift to the tighthead side to cover for Allan Alaalatoa and/or Taniela Tupou.

Bell was one of the Wallabies’ best ball carriers, and clocked up more run metres than any Australian forward, no mean feat for a prop. Along the way he busted five tackles, which is more than any other forward in Round Three. But it wasn’t just the carries, he backed it up with a massive 16 from 16 tackles.

The Australian scrum was under the pump at times and the injures to the tightheads didn’t help matters. Bell, to his credit, only conceded the one penalty.

No doubt he will be vitally important for the Wallabies at the World Cup.

Pablo Matera (Argentina)

A busy shift from the Pumas flanker, who alongside other veterans like Tomas Lavanini and Julian Montoya, got the scoreline as close as it could be in a losing effort.

The Argentinians threw wave after wave of attacks against the Springbok defence and Matera was at the forefront of that, with his 12 carries being the second most of any player in the match.

His work-rate was highlighted as he finished as the only Puma to get into double figures on the tackle count, making 10 from 12. He even clocked up more lineout wins than any other player in the match with four.

He’s not afraid to fling the ball wide either, although despite his best efforts, he hasn’t quite managed to set up a try on the wing try just yet this season.

Will Jordan (New Zealand)

The All Blacks right winger continues to be one of the hardest players for defenders to shut down.

In this game, Jordan finished with both a try and an assist. The try involved stepping back infield from a Richie Mo’unga tip pass – an easy effort by his own standards, but still an impressive bit of skill.

We saw that same step again for the assist to Mark Telea as he went past Marika Koroibete and made Andrew Kellaway bite in.

Stats wise he clocked up three clean breaks and three defenders beaten too, but it wasn’t just attack where he impressed as Jordan made 11 from 11 tackles and showed huge involvement for a winger by stepping in to make 11 passes as well. He even won a turnover, as if everything else wasn’t enough.

Emoni Narawa may have had a great debut in Round One, but based on what we’ve seen, it’s not going to be enough to displace Jordan from that 14 jersey.

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