Player ratings: A damp squib
OPINION: On a typically wet and windy night in Wellington, the New Zealand Maori team sought to keep alive their unbeaten record against Ireland.
While they were able to strike first off the back off a lineout set-play, Ireland took control in the middle period of the match and took a 12-point advantage into halftime.
The Maori certainly didn’t give up hope and scored three tries in the second spell, but Ireland was the better team throughout and never relinquished their lead, eventually making history with a 30-24 victory.
Sam Smith rates the New Zealand Maori players!
1. Ollie Norris – 5.5
Not as impressive a performance as last week. Still maintained his strong carry game but didn’t always find it easy-goings. Initially penalised for incorrect entry at the maul when Ireland was looking likely but that was soon upgraded to a yellow card – despite questions about whether there was actually anything wrong with his actions. Off in 57th minute.
2. Kurt Eklund – 6
Chalked up some metres out wide in the tramlines but struggled closer to the action. Pinged for not rolling away in front of the posts, handing Ireland three points. Safe at lineout time. Off in 63rd minute.
3. Tyrel Lomax – 4.5
Scrums were a mixed bag – didn’t take too many backwards steps but never looked confident. Probably didn’t accomplish anything tonight to suggest he’s threatening to reclaim his spot in the All Blacks. Knocked on a bounce pass when the Maori All Blacks were hot on attack. Off in 57th minute.
4. Manaaki Selby-Rickit – 6
A willing ball-carrier, regularly putting his hand up to cart the ball forward. Penalised for one side-entry at the breakdown. Looked solid in his first full run-out after returning from injury. Off in 63rd minute.
5. Isaia Walker-Leawere – 6.5
The key man in the lineout for the Maori All Blacks. Made a nice break from a ruck but didn’t have enough support to keep the attack flowing, and generally carried strongly. Toed the line with his discipline at times. Copped a penalty for a neck roll in a ruck clear-out.
6. Reed Prinsep – N/A
Left the match after 16 minutes with an injury.
7. Billy Harmon – 6.5
Another solid performance from the Highlanders loose forward. Hit plenty of breakdowns and carried with vigour while also topping the tackle charts. Only major error was not reeling in the bouncing ball after a Maori All Blacks lineout steal, with Ireland pouncing and scoring moments later.
8. Cullen Grace – 7
Another big shift. Did well to somehow hold Gavin Coombes up over the try line when a score looked likely. Ran a great support line outside Ruben Love and threw a pinpoint pass back in-field to the same man for the Maori All Blacks’ third try. Snared one lineout steal. Knocking on the All Blacks’ door.
9. TJ Perenara – 6
Got into an argument with referee Karl Dickson after some dark arts at the ruck from Ireland. Snared a crucial breakdown turnover on the Maori All Blacks goal line when Ireland were looking likely with his last player of the match. Off in 52nd minute.
10. Josh Ioane – 4.5
Cleverly put in a dinky low kick to get the game started, which Ireland knocked on, but struggled off the boot throughout the rest of the match. Kicked the ball far too long from a Maori All Blacks turnover, sending it dead, but wasn’t able to get much distance when trying to hit the sidelines. Also had issues off the tee in terrible conditions with both his conversion attempts ending up nowhere near the posts.
11. Connor Garden-Bachop – 6
Caught out for Ireland’s first try, with the visitors takings a quick lineout. Generally looked dynamic out on the left wing, putting his markers under pressure whether it was running with the ball in hand or popping kicks through. Did make one kick error, sending the ball out on the full.
12. Alex Nankivell – 3
It was generally a horrid game for the Maori All Blacks midfielders. A wide pass that couldn’t find Garden-Bachop handed Ireland the ball for their first score. Threw a similarly poor ball from the base of the ruck which cost the Maori All Blacks an attacking opportunity. Stripped with one carry from a kick-off but it thankfully didn’t cost his side. Off in 64th minute.
13. Bailyn Sullivan – 4
Couldn’t get his running game going. Wasn’t paying attention when Ireland took the quick lineout to score their first try. Threw a poor pass to his midfield partner when the Maori All Blacks were on the attack, with Nankivell knocking on. Knocked one on himself with his first real attacking run.
14. Shaun Stevenson – 7
Grabbed the Maori All Blacks’ first try then made a great break down the righthand flank to set up his side’s second real attacking opportunity. Had a couple more nice touches throughout the game but was sin-binned in the 73rd minute for an illegal knock-down.
15. Josh Moorby – 7
Had a couple of great touches in the first 10 minutes and generally was able to get his fend working to perfection throughout the evening. Doesn’t offer the same kicking skillset as Zarn Sullivan, the man he replaced this week, but is perhaps more of a running threat. Off in 57th minute.
16. Leni Apisai – N/A
On in 63rd minute.
17. Tamaiti Williams – 7.5
On in 39th minute for some scrum cover – but wasn’t needed for long. Returned as a permanent sub in the 57th minute. Helped the scrum take things to the next level.
18. Marcel Renata – N/A
On in 57th minute. Scrum remained strong.
19. TK Howden – 7
On in 63rd minute. Forced a breakdown penalty with his first action of the game when Ireland was building nicely.
20. Caleb Delany – 8
On in 16th minute. Had a huge impact from the bench. Made a number of great runs, including one down the left sideline and created what was eventually a penalty try for the Maori All Blacks. Also grabbed a steal at the lineout. Has a big future ahead of him with the Hurricanes after getting a taste of action this year.
21. Brad Weber
On in 52nd minute. Couldn’t galvanise his troops but his delivery was on target tonight. Grabbed the final try of the game after running a good support line off Ruben Love.
22. Ruben Love – 8
On in 57th minute. A super sub. Sparked and eventually scored a brilliant try in the 71st minute with a scintillating run from the back, then created the final try of the game.
23. Billy Proctor – N/A
On in 64th minute.