Player Ratings: Rampant All Blacks
OPINION: For the first time since 2012, Ireland touched down in New Zealand to search for a first-ever victory away from home against the All Blacks.
Three wins from the previous five encounters ensured Ireland entered the match with as much confidence as they could ever hope for on a dry track at the All Blacks’ Eden Park fortress.
The visitors started the stronger side on the night, scoring the first try of the game but it didn’t take long for the All Blacks to respond through Jordie Barrett – and then pick up three more tries in the opening half. Ireland showed some starch in the second half, but they ultimately could wrangle back a rampant All Blacks side, with the game finishing 42-19 in New Zealand’s favour.
Tom Vinicombe rates the New Zealand players!
1. George Bower – 7.5
Part of a strong pack that generally had the better of their opposition – both at the scrum and the maul. Industrious on defence and a regular carrier of the ball. Penalised for not rolling away at the tackle in the 43rd minute, handing Ireland a five-metre line-out; they scored moments later.
2. Codie Taylor – 6
Generally accurate at line-out time and looked sharp with the ball in hand. Pinged for some offside defending to kick off the second half. Showed good awareness to grab a loose ball at the back of an Ireland lineout. Off in 55th minute.
3. Ofa Tuungafasi – 7
Had a ding-dong battle with Andrew Porter at scrum time but drew first and second blood in the penalty stakes. Smashed Tadhg Furlong in the 33rd minute, turning the ball over when Ireland were building some momentum on attack. Off in 55th minute.
4. Brodie Retallick – 6.5
Built into his work and never shied away from hitting breakdowns or ball-runners. Got his hands on an Irish line-out early in the third quarter to force a turnover as his final act of the game. Was the All Blacks’ busiest defender in his time on the park. Off in 63rd minute.
5. Sam Whitelock – 8
An excellent showing in the game that saw him become the second most-capped All Black of all time. Made one integral breakdown clear-out in the 19th minute to ensure the All Blacks maintained possession. Often showed some nice hands as one of the link forwards in the backline – including in the lead-up to NZ’s first try. Was absurdly penalised for diving on the ball when it was still emerging from the ruck at one point, despite it being clearly well out of the breakdown already. Grabbed a breakdown turnover in the 67th minute and put pressure on the Irish line-out.
6. Scott Barrett – 7
Much of the pre-game talk surrounded Barrett’s selection on the blindside flank but it was a non-event, with the regular lock looking at home in the No.6 jersey. A nice moment early in the game saw Jordie Barrett carry the ball into the tackle with brothers Scott and Beauden clearing out the Irish forwards at the subsequent breakdown. Made one great chop tackle on Robbie Henshaw when Ireland were looking likely early doors. Copped a couple of penalties but topped the tackle charts for New Zealand.
7. Sam Cane – 5.5
Made a couple of errors in the opening 10 minutes, kicking the ball forward at a breakdown and knocking on in the open field. Was the crucial first man to the breakdown when Leicester Fainga’nuku broke down the left-hand flank and was usually on hand to secure ruck ball. Off in 67th minute.
8. Ardie Savea – 8
Dynamic. Followed up Aaron Smith’s sneaky break to score the All Blacks’ third try and then created and scored another with an outstanding run, stepping outside of Garry Ringrose and then bursting down the field for the five-pointer. Shifted to the blindside in the final quarter and also took over as captain once Cane departed. Didn’t shirk his defensive duties and reinforced his spot in the starting line-up.
9. Aaron Smith – 7.5
2 assists. An untidy first five minutes saw Smith knock the ball on at the base of one ruck and then cop a penalty at another for picking up a loose ball from an offside position. From that point on, however, Smith was all class. Threw a bullet pass for Jordie Barrett to grab NZ’s first try then a brilliant break, chip and chase from the ruck shortly before halftime created Savea’s try. Off in 60th minute.
10. Beauden Barrett – 7
Safe at flyhalf, created a few chances for his teammates. Snuffed out a possible Ireland try with an excellently taken intercept while operating as the last defender then showed plenty of poise moments later to defuse another skirmish. Combined with Seve Reece in the 28th minute to bundle the ball-carrier into touch and shut down another Ireland attack. Put in an expertly weighted grubber kick to set up his team’s third score of the night. Some less than exceptional kicking – but that seems to be part of the All Blacks’ playbook.
11. Leicester Fainga’anuku – 6
Showed some good aerial skills in the formative stages of the match to win his team some possession. The first time he got both mitts on the ball, he was required to clear the ball from the All Blacks’ in-goal – and didn’t disappoint. Made a bollocking first run down the left wing to give NZ all the momentum and territory they needed for try numero uno. Certainly didn’t look out of place in test rugby without setting the world alight.
12. Quinn Tupaea – 7.5
Featured prominently in the first half but had less to do in the second. A good counter-ruck at the first breakdown almost earned his side some early possession and it was his effort in the 34th minute that did finally reap rewards at the breakdown for NZ. Showed nice hands to set up Fainga’anuku’s run en route to the All Blacks’ first try and then displayed perfect poise to pick up a Barrett grubber for the third. Will be generally very pleased with his display. Off in the 60th minute.
13. Rieko Ioane – 6
Built slowly into the match. Had a few touches in the first half but had to be content with his teammates making the big plays. Prevented two almost certain tries towards the end of the third quarter with some brilliant instinctive defending. Off in 67th minute.
14. Sevu Reece – 8.5
Dangerous whenever he touched the ball. Somehow managed to temporarily hold out an early Ireland score with a wrap tackle on hooker Dan Sheehan. Cantered away for a brilliantly-taken try when the ball went to ground inside the All Blacks’ 22. Penalised for a knock forward but finished as the busiest tackler in the backline as well as clocking up the most run-metres.
15. Jordie Barrett – 6.5
Barrelled over the line for the All Blacks’ first try. Bit in on James Lowe, leaving Ringrose unmarked on the outer edges for Ireland’s second score, and was then pinged at the very next kick-off for getting stuck in the breakdown. Nailed all six of his conversion attempts.
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 7
On in 55th minute. Carried with vigour – as was expected – but also got through plenty of work on defence, notching 13 tackles. Lost the ball with one carry.
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe – 6
On in 60th minute. Scrum dominance remained when the All Blacks brought their reserve props into the mix. Handed an outrageous yellow card for not rolling away from the breakdown – despite being nowhere near it.
18. Angus Ta’avao – 6.5
On in 55th minute. Matched Laulala’s early efforts at the scrum.
19. Pita Gus Sowakula – 7
On in 63rd minute. Knocked the ball on with his first touch but got over the line from the back of a dominant scrum to mark a memorable debut. Grabbed one lineout steal.
20. Dalton Papalii – N/A
On in 67th minute.
21. Finlay Christie – 6
On in 60th minute. Kept the flow of the game going.
22. Richie Mo’unga
On in 60th minute. Missed touch with his first penalty kick to the sidelines.
23. Braydon Ennor – N/A
On in 67th minute.
By Tom Vinicombe, @RugbyPass