Many high-level individual performances, particularly in the third line and with the number 9
Australia v Fiji of the second day of the Rugby World Cup France 2023 – ph. World Rugby
In a succession of actions and emotions, the second day of the Rugby World Cup 2023 also ended.
France, New Zealand, Samoa, Wales, Ireland, South Africa, Fiji and England are the eight teams that emerged victorious from the clashes that characterized these second eighty minutes of the world championship, but individual performances saw many others also rise to prominence players of the teams that then left the field defeated.
It was therefore difficult to select a lineup containing the fifteen best performers, role by role, of this second round. Readers have the task of agreeing or not with the choices made.
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Rugby World Cup 2023: the best XV of the second day
15 Baltazar Amaya – Uruguay
The young Teros fullback, making his first appearance in a Rugby World Cup, has shown that he deserves the number 15 shirt. A constant thorn in the side of the French defense and a wet world debut with a good try. Lots of good performances with 15 on this second day, in any case. Worthy of mention are the performances of Ilaisa Droasese (Fiji), Freddie Steward (England) and Nuno Sousa Guedes (Portugal), whose steps caused severe migraines throughout the Welsh national team
Read also: RWC: Uruguay loads up with asado. Manuel Diana: “In 2021 I found a blue wall, today we work to beat it”
14 Grant Williams – South Africa
In the Springboks’ crushing victory over Romania the Sharks scrum-half proved comfortable in the wing position, taking home his first and second career international tries. He beat 10 defenders in the 80 minutes he was on the pitch.
13 Joe Marchant – England
The Harlequins center has rediscovered a renewed solidity in the middle of the pitch. His partnership with Manu Tuilagi is one of the most unexpectedly solid combinations in the world championship and continues to go from strength to strength. He scores the bonus point try, decisive for the Squad’s XV.
12 Bundee Aki – Ireland
The performance against Romania was not an episodic performance. The Connacht center confirmed himself in a state of grace by laying waste to the Tongan defense in Ireland’s impressive victory over the islanders. The Aki-Ahki direct comparison was undoubtedly won. Josua Tuisova, the cornerstone of Fiji’s success over Australia, and Matias Garafulic, an indomitable tackler at the center of the Chilean attacking midfield, deserve a mention.
11 Makazole Mapimpi – South Africa
When the Springboks spread the game and find their number 11 there is simply no opponent who can match his explosive speed. He scored a hat-trick which earned him the title of the XV on the second day.
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10 Damian McKenzie – New Zealand
In a match where there are prairies to ride on like the one in Toulouse against Namibia, Damian McKenzie wallows in it, having fun and entertaining the crowd. He plays the entire 80 minutes, starting as an opener and finishing as a fullback, hurting the opposing defense with his searing accelerations and distributing pearls to his teammates.
9 Simione Kuruvoli – Fiji
He only spent 46 minutes on the field, but the Fiji scrumhalf finished with 14 points, 100% from the field, 7 tackles and some good personal initiative. The best on the pitch, as long as he was there. Another performance worthy of a slightly more substantial note is that of Conor Murray. The Ireland scrum half seems to have climbed onto the DeLorean: high pace, intelligent personal initiatives, vision of the game. A performance against Tonga reminiscent of Murray who, for a long stretch of his career, was one of the best 9 in the world. In any case, many midfielders who illuminated this second day, such as Marcelo Torrealba (Chile), Cobus Reinach (South Africa, author of a hat-trick in just 24 minutes) and Cam Roigard (New Zealand, who made everyone think: the boy plays well).
8 Ben Earl – England
Small deception in positioning the English number 7 as third center, who however had played as third center in the first match and finished the match against Japan in this position. Earl is excessive in his celebrations for the smallest events on the pitch and for this he receives some mockery and criticism which is all in all well founded, but his performance in the English scrum makes him an essential player for Borthwick, an ever-advancing ball carrier and a constant dynamo in the rest of the game.
7 Nicolas Martins – Portugal
The Portuguese third rower not only scored Portugal’s first try in this Rugby World Cup, 16 years after the previous one. Martins was also the best tackler of the match against Wales with 17 tackles, he stole 2 ground balls and 1 throw-in. A complete performance. With 7 good performances also from Fritz Lee, man of the match for Samoa, and Lappies Labuschagne, 19 tackles for Japan against England.
6 Levani Botia – Fiji
His lack of use from the first minute against Wales had caused astonishment, and in fact Simon Raiwalui did not hesitate to immediately put him back in the starting lineup, being rewarded with a stellar performance. Devastating in attack and defense, a nightmare for the Wallabies at every meeting point, brilliant in connecting the departments. One of the best in Fiji-Australia, in short. Speaking of ball recoverers, also pay attention to the Uruguayan number 6 Manuel Ardao, a specialist in the gesture, with 3 turnovers won against France.
5 Steevy Cerqueira – Portugal
An all-round performance from the Portuguese second line, one of the most involved players in attack and defense for the Portuguese team. 15 tackles for him and a constant presence in all phases of the game, where he made the pair of young Welshmen pale in comparison to him.
4 Isoa Nasilasila – Fiji
The statuesque Fijian second row is one of the novelties of this version of the island’s national team. A really tough player physically, very skilled in the aerial play in the lineout, with a great hunger for dark work. Compared to other great Fijian second lines like Leone Nakarawa, he is less of a protagonist as a ball carrier and less imaginative with the ball in his hand, but he is an absolute workaholic at the total service of the team.
Read also: Rugby World Cup: highlights of Fiji’s victory over Australia
3 Matias Dittus – Chile
The right prop receives the shirt of the XV of the second day thanks to his marking at the start of the match against Samoa, in one of the most entertaining matches of this World Cup and as a sign of homage for the good performance of the whole team. Dittus also played an excellent match in a closed scrum, where it was feared that the islanders could put a lot of pressure on the South Americans, who instead defended themselves very well.
2 Sama Malolo – Samoa
Two tries for Samoa’s reserve hooker, who reached his destination thanks to the excellent work of his teammates in the drive from the throw-in. The maul was the Samoan team’s lethal weapon in the victory against Chile, and Malolo is reaping the dividends.
1 Peni Ravai – Fiji
At the beginning of the 2022/2023 season Ravai was stopped by Clermont. A neck injury prevented him from receiving medical clearance to play in France, which has stricter rules on player health than elsewhere. After a few months of absence from the fields, Ravai played the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific with the Reds, accumulating good playing time. At the World Cup he is a luxury second choice on the left for Fiji: after an excellent entry in the second half against Wales, another good performance against Australia, including the merit of having won the last, decisive kick of free kick in closed scrum.
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