Player Ratings: A little bit off-colour
OPINION: The All Blacks put in a solid defensive display in the second half to beat Argentina 20-16 in Buenos Aires.
Alex McLeod rates New Zealand players
1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 5
Struggled to deal with the experience of Figallo at the scrum. Not overly effective with ball in hand and penalised for collapsing a scrum midway through the first half. Signs of frustration began to show shortly before being taken off.
2. Dane Coles – 6.5
Plenty of grit as he tried to make a claim to retain the No 2 jersey over Codie Taylor. Gave away a silly penalty for a shoulder charge which handed Argentina good field position, but showed a ton of energy before being subbed.
3. Angus Ta’avao – 6
Got into his work and blended into the match without making much of a statement before being replaced by Laulala.
4. Brodie Retallick – 7
Industrious as ever. Difficult to pick out any faults in his game, and his 50 metre intercept try was a joy to watch. Still the world’s best lock, even if he was outshone in this match by Petti.
5. Patrick Tuipulotu – 6
Like Ta’avao, Tuipulotu toiled away all game but didn’t bring an awful lot to the table. Might be a missed opportunity to impress as World Cup spots look tight in the locking department.
6. Vaea Fifita – 5
Breakdown penalty inside the first 10 minutes allowed Boffelli to unleash his booming boot from the tee. A high tackle on Cubelli shortly afterwards showed a lack of discipline. Was handy at the lineout.
7. Sam Cane – 6
An error-laden outing on both sides of the ball in just his second-ever test as All Blacks captain. Far too many spillages for his liking. However, 17 tackles was a match-high and integral to his side’s victory.
8. Ardie Savea – 7.5
A typically energetic and robust performance. Bounced out of tackles at will and caused plenty a headache for the opposition defence.
9. Aaron Smith – 7
Nippy as always. Decision to tap and go in the 18th minute from 5 metres out paid dividends as Laumape crashed over for a try.
10. Beauden Barrett – 8
Mixed things up as the game wore on. Started the contest with a number of attacking kicks in behind the Argentines, but began to open things up with his strong running game, which splintered the opposition defence. Trustworthy from the tee.
11. Jordie Barrett – 5.5
Unspectacular. Way too many errors and not enough of a spark on attack to accompany his defence and massive punt, which could be a valuable asset later this year.
12. Ngani Laumape – 7.5
Sloppy hands early on. Redeemed himself with a line break and some good kick chase game, and was rewarded with a try through his strong running. Remained a constant threat with ball in hand, and staked a big claim in the midfield battle for World Cup spots.
13. Anton Lienert-Brown – 6.5
Fantastic defensive work. Worked well in tandem with Laumape, with both making 13 tackles. Showed glimpses of some neat footwork.
14. Sevu Reece – 7
Lively and looked to get involved from the get-go, but faded in the second half. Saved a try on his own tryline in the first quarter of an hour with a vital tackle on Kremer. Great line break in the 29thminute to split the Argentine defence. Very solid test debut.
15. Ben Smith – 6.5
Got more involved as the game wore on. Was evasive with ball in hand, despite not causing a huge amount of problems defensively for the Pumas. Always committed to the cause.
16. Liam Coltman – 6
A misthrow at the lineout late in the game had the potential to be costly for the All Blacks as they defended deep inside their own 22, but they emerged unscathed after he won the ball back at the breakdown. Needs to show more in next match to solidify his spot in Japan.
17. Atu Moli – 6
Anchored the scrum well on test debut, but didn’t see much action elsewhere despite being on the park for about a quarter of the match.
18. Nepo Laulala – 6
Made all six of his tackles and helped Moli out at scrum time, but not much else to add to that.
19. Jackson Hemopo – 6.5
Was impactful after coming on for Tuipulotu, which should propel him up the national pecking order. Efficient on defence.
20. Luke Jacobson – 6.5
Did what he does best for the Chiefs in Super Rugby, and that was smashing opponents with some thumping tackles. Coped well on test debut.
21. Brad Weber – N/A
First match for the All Blacks in four years, but wasn’t given much of a chance to stand out with less than 10 minutes to play. Did well given the circumstances.
22. Josh Ioane – N/A
Didn’t make it onto the park, which is disappointing for the uncapped 23-year-old, but understandable given the tightness of this clash.
23. Braydon Ennor – 6.5
Proved to be threatening in his first touch of the ball in test rugby as he swung out and took advantage of a defensive mismatch on the left-hand edge. A sign of things to come.
By Alex McLeod, Rugbypass