AS the top carrier in Saturday’s night’s clash of the titans between South Africa and Ireland, making 112 yards and displaying some electric footwork, Springbok full-back Damian Willemse gets handed the No 15 jersey. Henry Arundell’s five tries for England in their big win over Chile gets him a spot on the right wing, while Scotland man-of-the-match Duhan van der Merwe is on the left.
Pedro Bettencourt was exceptional both sides of the ball as Portugal came within a last minute penalty of securing a first ever World Cup win, meaning they had to make do with a draw against Georgia, so he links up in midfield with the immense Bundee Aki, who had 14 carries (the most of anyone on the pitch) for 66 metres, 63 of which were post contact, in that win for Ireland over South Africa.
A strong case could be made for Johnny Sexton at stand-off as his goal-kicking was ultimately the difference between Ireland and South Africa, his game management was of its usual high order, and the old man even weighed in with 11 tackles (behind only Cealan Doris in the Irish team), but he misses out to Gareth Anscombe, who was named man-of-the-match at the end of Wales’ demolition of Australia).
Antoine Dupont‘s brilliant cross-kick for Damian Penaud‘s opener as France hammered Namibia was enough in itself to earn selection at scrum-half, but he showed his competitive instinct by keeping his foot firmly to the accelerator despite his team’s complete domination of the opposition, scoring a try himself and ending up with three assists. It will be a tragedy if the facial injury suffered early in the second half deprives the remainder of the tournament of his brilliance.
Andrew Porter fronted up for Ireland, winning an important scrum penalty, against South Africa to gain selection at loose-head.Tongan skipper Ben Tameifuna led by example against Scotland, standing up in the scrum, completing 13 tackles and carrying hard most notably when scoring that fine try at the start of the second half so is at tight-head. In between that pair, is Argentina captain Julian Montoya, who put in big 73-minute shift as Los Pumas won ugly against Manu Samoa.
Tadhg Beirne of Ireland and Franco Mostert South Africa unite in the second-row after knocking lumps out of each other on Saturday night.
Manuel Ardao was exceptional any blindside flanker for Uruguay as they gave Italy a run for their money before eventually running out of steam after the break, Jac Morgan of Wales is the third captain named in the pack at openside flanker just ahead of the all anion Michele Lamaro of Italy, and Lorenzo Cannone of Italy is at No 8.
15. Damian Willemse (South Africa)
14. Henry Arundell (England)
13. Pedro Bettencourt (Portugal)
12. Bundee Aki (Ireland)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
10. Gareth Anscombe (Wales)
9. Antoine Dupont (France)
1. Andrew Porter (Ireland)
2. Julian Montoya (Argentina)
3. Ben Tameifuna (Tonga)
4. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
5. Franco Mostert (South Africa)
6. Manuel Ardao (Uruguay)
7. Jac Morgan (Wales)
8. Lorenzo Cannone (Italy)