Who makes the cut in our composite XV after the second round of pool matches?
Women’s Rugby World Cup Team of Week Two
Another round of Rugby World Cup pool matches done, with England, Canada and New Zealand the first teams to book their places in the quarter-finals.
Fiji also enjoyed their first-ever World Cup win while Australia came back to beat Wales and the USA overpowered Japan.
But who stood out in the second round? Here is our composite team from the six matches – read our reasoning below and let us know who you would pick in a ‘dream XV’ by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s Rugby World Cup Team of Week Two
15. Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi (Italy)
The Italy full-back lit up the second day of matches with a try in the first minute against Canada. By the final whistle, she topped the stats charts for metres made (117), clean breaks (two) and defenders beaten (seven) as her running game tested the Canadians.
14. Jennine Detiveaux (USA)
Not only did the Exeter Chief score the bonus-point try in the win over Japan with an individual effort in the 22 but she was involved in the build-up to a couple of others too.
Her aerial work was important as she collected a Gabby Cantorna kick early in the second half, which set up the attack for Joanna Kitlinski to cross in the corner on the other side of the pitch. She also made a break in the lead-up to Elizabeth Cairns’s try, which helped the Eagles take control of the game.
13. Emma Orr (Scotland)
The 13 channel is notoriously difficult defensively but 19-year-old Orr, playing her first World Cup match, did exceptionally well. She set the tone within the first five minutes of Scotland’s game against Australia with a huge hit to drive the Wallaroos back.
She made several other telling contributions without the ball – in all, she made 17 tackles and missed just one – and was a threat with ball in hand too.
Theresa Fitzpatrick was also a standout for the Black Ferns.
12. Sesenieli Donu (Fiji)
There were probably more offloads in Fiji’s match against South Africa than across the rest of the tournament to date – and Donu did it more than twice as often as any other player with seven across the 80 minutes.
She also showed how dangerous she is when she keeps hold of the ball, proving an integral figure in the Fijiana attack. She was often the one making the breaks and finding the space – France will no doubt be wary of her abilities next weekend.
Narrowly missed out on selection last week, but she had to make the team this time. As well as scoring two tries – her second a perfect illustration of her power, pace and skill – she had significant involvements in four others.
She beat ten defenders in all – more than twice as many as any other player – and made 175 metres.
She has now scored an incredible 18 tries in six World Cup games – and you wouldn’t bet against her overtaking Sue Day’s record of 19 before the end of the tournament.
A mention, too, for Japan’s Komachi Imakugi, who scored a superb individual try against the USA.
10. Arabella McKenzie (Australia)
Ruahei Demant put in a performance worthy of making the team for the second week running, but we had to pick McKenzie for her timely intervention at the end of Australia’s win over Scotland.
With the Wallaroos down to 13 players after both their hookers had been sent off and defending a narrow two-point lead, McKenzie ripped the ball from Lisa Thomson in the tackle to allow her side to kick for touch and end the game. She also delivered the wide pass to Bienne Terita for their first try.
9. Ariana Bayler (New Zealand)
The Black Ferns’ back-line really kicked into gear against Wales – all the more impressive given that they struggled to get a decent platform at the set-piece – and they scored some brilliant tries at Waitakere Stadium.
Bayler may not have been one of the star names in that back-line but she was the facilitator who allowed them to show what they can do. She rarely took the ball on herself or kicked it away; instead, she delivered quick ball to Ruahei Demant (or whoever was standing at first receiver/hitting the best line) to allow the Black Ferns to continually punch holes in the Welsh defence.
1. Olivia DeMerchant (Canada)
Canada’s win over Italy, which booked them a place in the quarter-finals, was built on the set-piece, and that is where DeMerchant excels.
She is not a prop who you’ll find making 30-metre breaks in midfield, but she does the hard graft at the scrum (100% success on own ball), lineout (87% success on own ball) and breakdown (96% retention). She was an ever-present at the contact area when on the field and added her power to the driving maul that so tested Italy.
2. Amy Cokayne (England)
The Red Roses maul may not have been able to deliver the same rewards as it has in other matches during their 27-Test winning run but their lineout was still very effective against the French. Cokayne was successful with 20 of her 21 throws as England won 95% of their lineouts compared to France’s 80%. She was also central to a decent scrum performance in the face of a strong France pack.
As well as the set-piece, Cokayne was one of England’s top carriers and tacklers – and she held her own when things got a little feisty in the final quarter.
3. Siteri Rasolea (Fiji)
Tighthead was a tough call between this Fijian and the Wallaroos’ Eva Karpani. Both were awarded the Player of the Match trophies in their second-round matches after making such big impacts in the loose, but Rasolea edges it in our selection for the cheers she generated from the crowd at Waitakere Stadium with every carry.
She also played the full 80 minutes, which is rare for a prop these days. In that time she made 15 carries across the gain-line (more than any other player), beat seven defenders (more than any other Fiji player) and made 93 metres (more than any other Fiji forward).
She also helped provide a solid platform up front – they had 100% success on their own scrum – as Fijiana achieved their first-ever World Cup win.
4. Courtney Holtkamp (Canada)
We did consider bending the rules slightly and picking Sophie de Goede here as the No 8 (who can also play lock!) was again superb in both attack and defence against Italy, but we decided to share the praise around the Canadian pack, which is arguably the best drilled in the competition outside England.
Holtkamp made more metres than every other Canada forward bar de Goede and was heavily involved at the breakdown too – she was one of only three Canadian players to secure a turnover.
5. Madoussou Fall (France)
Not only was the lock an impressive defender for les Bleues against England – she made 21 tackles and missed none – but she was dangerous with ball in hand too.
She carried for more metres than any other French forward and competed fiercely at the breakdown. Her impact is growing as the tournament continues.
6. Alex Matthews (England)
Every time England had an attack in the first half, it seemed as if Matthews was involved. She was consistently offering herself as a carrier and made metres with those carries.
In all, she made 19 carries, contributed hugely at the ruck, was England’s top tackler with ten and won the Player of the Match award.
7. Marjorie Mayans (France)
The flanker, on the occasion of her 50th cap, was at the heart of the French defensive effort against England. She made a remarkable 28 tackles and missed just one in the 70 minutes she was on the pitch, helping to blunt England’s attacking game.
8. Aseza Hele (South Africa)
South Africa and Fiji produced the most entertaining match of the World Cup so far, and Hele’s powerful bursts were central to the Springbok women’s performance.
She beat an incredible 11 defenders in the narrow defeat – the only player to reach double figures. She also made more metres than any other SA player, was her team’s second highest tackler with 18 and scored the try that helped level the scores on the hour mark.
A true all-round display from the No 8.
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