This one we are bringing you in collaboration with the Rugby United Podcast.
It would be difficult to just pick a single team as there were some mammoth performances, but this would have been our team of the quarter-finals:
- Steven Kitshoff – in combination with Frans Malherbe they were able to dominate against a very strong French scrum. Steven also picked up a couple of meters on the run and was solid in defense and in rucks.
- Peato Mauvaku – one of the most dynamic hookers I have seen in recent years. Accurate at lineouts and he runs like a center. He scored a brilliant try for France.
- Frans Malherbe – the rock on which South Africa’s scrums are built. It is difficult to find a better tight head globally and he showed over the weekend that this is where his prowess starts and then he combined it with a high work rate in rucks and tackles.
- Eben Etzebeth – he is probably the top lock in the world at the moment and put in another immense performance for South Africa. He was a great ball carrier and put in massive hits throughout the game.
- Tadhg Beirne – one of the many great performers in a losing cause for Ireland, worked tirelessly on the less spectacular but badly needed parts of the game. He performed well at lineout time but put in the tireless tackles around rucks and probably was at the top of the list of all the number of rucks he attended.
- Ben Earl – was one of the standout players for England. He played his heart out and had a massive impact with the ball in hand. There was no contest he shied away from and was a constant pest at the rucks, helping to disrupt Fiji’s momentum.
- Marcos Kremer – he brought brutality to all collisions and made it extremely difficult for the Welsh team to get any momentum in the game. He carried strongly and put in a number of positive tackles.
- Ardie Savea – put in an absolute classic performance. His passion drove a lot of the results for his team and he outshone the rest of the forward pack with his work rate with and without the ball.
- Antoine Dupont – coming back from a fracture and playing your heart out for your country like that has to be commended. There wasn’t a minute where he didn’t give his all to try and help France win. His box kicks and passing were precise and he helped to give his team the best possible chance of a win.
- Richie Mo’unga – one commentator said that he has always been amazing for the Crusaders but has never put in a game-changing performance for the All Blacks. In this game, he DEFINITELY put in that performance. Solid on the kicking tee, creative in putting away players outside him, and crafting the line break that was the difference between the two teams.
- Cheslin Kolbe – it would not be possible to ask more of a winger. He defended valiantly, had a number of telling runs, and scored an epic try. His charge down of the Ramos conversion was however a testament to his willingness to never give up.
- Garry Ringrose – was able to outshine his spectacular center partner Bundee Aki in this game. He barely put a foot wrong and helped to give shape to a number of ferocious Irish attacks. He defended bravely and organized the Irish backline very well throughout the game.
- Jesse Kriel – gave absolutely everything! It was probably his best performance in a Springbok jersey to date. He tackled, ran with the ball, and put through the kick for Kolbe which resulted in his try. You could just look at the photos of his face after the game to see what effort he put in.
- Will Jordan – there are few finishers in the world more lethal than Will Jordan and he just showed it once again when it counted. If you see him outside you, just get the ball to him. He will do the rest.
- Marcus Smith – another display that is best explained when looking at his various blood-soaked and battered images throughout the game. Despite being dominated in a number of contact situations by the mammoth Fijians, he never backed down. There were some good flashes of brilliance on attack but that display of dedication to defend the line for his team gives him the nod.
There are a number of other players who had massive games and should also be mentioned. They include Bundee Aki, Sam Cane, Alex Mitchell, Franco Mostert, Levani Botia, Johnny Sexton, and Tyrell Lomax.