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New Zealand Vs Australia: A Combined Bledisloe Cup Form XV

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The last two weeks have seen Australia and New Zealand play some high quality attacking rugby. Between the two, they’ve scored a combined 152 points.  

The Wallabies will take a lot of positives from the 35-29 loss in Dunedin in the most recent contest after leaking 54 points in Sydney.

So after an epic two games here is a combined team of the players who stood out above the rest:

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1. Joe Moody 

The All Blacks loosehead prop has come of age over the last two weeks. Moody became a key figure in a dominant All Black scrum. In general play he was more prominent with ball in hand, including a strong run in open play in Sydney.

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2. Dane Coles 

Coles featured in the second Test returning from injury. His presence shows why he is integral for the All Blacks. In his 50th Test match Coles was full of running in general play.

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3. Nepo Laulala 

Like Coles, Laulala only featured in the second Test replacing Owen Franks. His powerful scrummaging was there for all to see. Apart from giving away one penalty for an obstruction, he contributed well around the field with good ball carries.

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4. Brodie Retalick 

Retalick keeps delivering a high standard of play every time he takes to the field. He is always busy around the field with his mobility and physicality. Although, he did have a lucky escape with an awkward tip tackle on Ned Hanigan while trying to get back on his feet.

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5. Sam Whitelock 

Whitelock combined with Brodie Retallick to continue their impressive partnership. Whitelock managed to upset a number of Australia’s restarts. This allowed the All Blacks to get on the front foot after conceding points in Dunedin. His presence in the lineouts was also key to both All Blacks victories. Wearing the number five jersey in Dunedin was also a special moment paying tribute to the late Sir Colin Meads.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Samuel Whitelock of the All Blacks runs with the ball during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South Africa Springboks at AMI Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

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6. Liam Squire 

A surprise selection ahead of Jerome Kaino was justified with an outstanding performance, which included scoring the first try in Sydney. He was strong with his ball running, showing great speed in both Tests. His work on defence was also strong, making a number of physical tackles. The energy he brings to the All Blacks is infectious.

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7. Michael Hooper 

The only Australian forward in this combined XV, Hooper is picked after a much-improved effort in the second Test. He showed good awareness to peel off a maul to score and was heavily involved in open play when the Wallabies were hot on attack in Dunedin.

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 26: Michael Hooper of the Wallabies is tackled during The Rugby Championship Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australia Wallabies at Forsyth Barr Stadium on August 26, 2017 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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8. Kieran Read 

The All Blacks captain had a strong game in the first Test, especially with his defence. In the second Test Read made two vital plays that led to Beauden Barrett’s winning try. He won the kick-off, then followed this by running a nice line in the lead up to the match-winner.

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9. Will Genia

The Australian scrum half had his best game in a long time in the second Test. He made a break that led to Bernard Foley’s try and scored one of his own. Genia was full of running around the scrum base and ruck fringes.

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10. Beauden Barrett

Barrett rediscovered his 2016 form over the last two weeks. His acceleration in Sydney set the tempo for the All Blacks’ early onslaught. His 20-point haul, including two tries, combined with more accurate goal kicking than previous outings got New Zealand over the line on Saturday.

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11. Rieko Ioane

The 20-year-old showed great speed, power and agility in making numerous line breaks over the last two matches. His quick feet to get around Israel Folau in the first Test shows he is a player of great talent. Ioane knows how to finish off tries.

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12. Kurtley Beale

Since returning to international rugby, Beale has given Australia more creativity in their midfield. After a slow start in Sydney, he found his feet scoring a try in the second half. He scored late in the second half in Dunedin that gave Australia the lead with minutes remaining.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 13: Wallabies captain Michael Hooper and team mate Kurtley Beale talk during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and Argentina at Cbus Super Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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13. Ryan Crotty

His two-try performance in the first Test was Crotty’s best in an All Black jersey. He did not put a foot wrong, making the correct decisions in both attack and defence. In the return leg he was busy on defence, but due to an early injury, he was not as effective.

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14. Ben Smith

The dependable Smith adapted well to playing back on the right wing. As always, he was in the right place at the right time to finish off try-scoring opportunities. He showed great vision and awareness with the pop passes that led to his try in Sydney. He will now enjoy a well-earned sabbatical.

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15. Israel Folau

He is still the Wallabies’ greatest attacking threat who challenges the opposition defence regularly. Folau made a large contribution in Australia’s late comeback during the first Test with a fortuitous try. His early intercept in Dunedin gave Australia the ideal start to be competitive in their six-point defeat.

Australia v New Zealand - The Rugby Championship

The players in this combined team all played key roles in what was an entertaining two matches. The trans-Tasman rivalry will resume in October with hopefully the same attacking intent we saw in Sydney and Dunedin.

Carlin Crossan, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.