This week we looked at the Top 14, Anglo-Welsh Cup, and Guinness Pro 14 and came up with a few contenders but not enough. Canada’s 42-point defeat to the Māori was never going to supply many though we did pick two standouts, but we did find a few more candidates in Argentina with both the URBA Top 12 Semi Finals and the first round of the Campeonato Argentino underway. Hooker had several standouts this week while flyhalf had a long queue of top performers.
1 – Ulises Garziera (Rosario) The opening round of the Argentine provincial competition saw Rosario get an important win on the road to Salta. Hailing from the Old Resians club, the stocky loosehead scored a vital first half try and proved a menace in the scrum.
2 – Santiago Socino (Newcastle) Not a simple choice with Tomás Baravalle playing well for Benetton and Facundo Bosch a key man for Agen. Socino found his way to the tryline again for Newcastle and continues to bring a rare attacking element to the front row.
3 – Francisco Gómez Kodela (Lyon) Up against one of the most fearsome packs in the Top 14 and played amidst heavy rain, the former Puma was reliable as ever for the home side though they ultimately fell short to La Rochelle. A busy day as a ball carrier in tight and solid in the tackle as he lasted more than 70 minutes, an impressive feat for a prop.
4 – Samu Manoa (Toulon) Played on the side of the scrum against Agen but we’ll draft him into the second row. Won the collisions as always and though his side lost out to a late penalty goal, they did pick up an important two bonus points on the road.
5 – Rodrigo Capó Ortega (Castres) The rumor mill says that a trip home to Uruguay in January might be on the cards. After another robust performance in the engine room against Oyonnax you can bet the Teros management will be investigating.
6 – Andrew Durutalo (Worcester) A good start for the new Warriors signing though it wasn’t in the Premiership. Some strong carries and a couple big tackles. It’s a good starting point for the Eagles star after making the move up a division.
7 – Matt Heaton (Canada) His team were beaten from the moment the match was announced but that didn’t stop a few players from impressing. Seemingly given more freedom under new coach Kingsley Jones, Heaton was all over the ball in defense and the best of a Canadian pack who refused to fold under huge pressure.
8 – Robert Barbieri (Benetton Treviso) It wasn’t a winning effort against defending Guinness Pro champions Scarlets, but it was still one worth noticing. The Toronto native was forceful with ball in hand but most impressive in defense where he was the leading tackler from either side.
9 – Felipe Ezcurra (Hindú) Another top class performance saw him score one and contribute heavily to the Semi Final win over Pucará. He has now resigned from his UAR contract which opens the possibility of a move abroad. The scouts in France and the UK will be on notice.
10 – Benjamín Urdapilletta (Castres) What a contest this week. AJ MacGinty was quality for Sale, Benjamin Madero was outstanding for SIC, and Juan León Novillo put in a match-winning performance for Calvisano. Another was also in the shop window but we’ll speak of him later. Urdapilleta gets the golden 10 shirt once again for a superb 22-point performance against Oyonnax on the road.
11 – Juan Pablo Estelles (Northampton) Saints were second best to Exeter at Sandy Park but the Argentine winger was in top form. Two tries and several line breaks. He nearly had a hat trick on two occasions, one an intercept that he couldn’t quite handle and another that was called back for a knock-on in the build-up.
12 – Patricio Fernández (Clermont) A frustrating day as a classy individual effort from the flyhalf was not enough to inspire ASM to victory on the road at Montpellier. Broke through for a try in the 3rd minute and scored 14 points in all. Has the skills and physique to excel in the midfield so he cedes the No 10 shirt to countryman Urdapilleta.
13 – Felipe Brangier (Chile) Take a bow fearless leader. The veteran Cóndores captain was inspirational at Avaya Stadium and fittingly scored the try that saw his charges defeat New Zealand for the first time ever at the Silicon Valley 7s. What a moment for both man and country.
14 – Blaine Scully (Cardiff Blues) Belisario Agulla impressed with Newcastle but we’ve opted for Scully, who celebrated his new contract extension with a quality performance in the overwhelming defeat of Zebre. Created one try and caused problems with each touch, he was also inch-perfect in defense.
15 – Andrew Coe (Canada) A man-of-the-match performance for the UBC youngster who got the start at his favored fullback position. Brave under the high ball, picked up scraps on the ground, and made hordes of metres in the counter-attack. An eye-catching effort ahead of the November tests.