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Player ratings: Shell-shocked All Blacks

OPINION: The All Blacks went down to a fabulous Irish team 20-29 in their penultimate match of the year.


It was gob-smacking that the men in black went in at half-time with a 10-5 lead, owing to a huge defensive effort and some over-refereeing that denied Ireland a try.

The 158 tackles in the first half started to tell from about 48 minutes when a flurry of errors allowed Ireland to score through a great try by Doris and Ireland kept their foot on the All Black throat from then. A well-deserved victory and a truckload of work-ons for NZ before the final French fling next weekend.

Mike Rehu rates the All Blacks!

1. Joe Moody – 5/10

Big tackle count but too many passive runs and lack of presence in the collision zone. Scrum was reasonably solid on his side vs Furlong, big hit on van der Flier at 34 minutes. Off at 52.

2. Codie Taylor – 4.5


Heart in his mouth at 12 minutes when we saw some manufactured replays and an over-enthusiastic TMO to send him off for 10 minutes. Got back on the field, tackled well and was rewarded with the try off a lineout. Hideous missed tackle showing man of the match Doris through on the way to his try at 51. Off at 52.

3. Nepo Laulala – 5

Free kicked at a scrum in the 7th minute but relished the defensive load in the 2nd quarter ploughing into collisions. The front row flagged in the 50th minute, Nepo knocked on at 52 off an erratic Perenara pass and that signalled the hooking of the whole front row.

4. Brodie Retallick – 4


The veteran hasn’t been able to return to his best this year. Early on he ran too high and got punished and was not as accurate in the tackle as the opposition. Forced an error in the tackle on Ringrose at 21 minutes and let the opposition know. Penalised at 79 minutes for entry to ruck and it’s hard to understand why Vaa’i wasn’t brought on for his energy and distribution skills in the 4th quarter.

5. Sam Whitelock – 4.5

Quite a few errors around his all round game but did lead well, if not successfully. Robbed by Conway at a kick-off, 38 minutes some good work with a nabbed loose ball under defensive pressure. Lost line-out throw at 60 and poor kick off reception at 63, missed clean-out at 72 when Rieko was turned over.

6. Ethan Blackadder – 6

A big day at the office in defence with 20 tackles and plenty of starch in the trenches. Was penalised on a late hit hit on Sexton, it was obvious the blacks were trying to put the fly-half off his game. No work with the ball in hand and really needed to be given more of a chance to get some go forward. Off at 61.

7. Dalton Papalii – 7

Beautiful instinct in the 32nd minute from the line out shooting past Furlong and putting Taylor clear for the All Blacks’ first try. Top tackler with 22, herculean effort and was one of the few All Blacks to out-play his opposite.

8. Ardie Savea – 6.5

Good early start, slowing ball and carrying well but as the game wore on couldn’t assert his style on the match.

9. TJ Perenara – 4

Is there for his leadership and defence but when you analyse how NZ was beaten at the break down especially around the 2nd and 3rd phases we must look at the speed and accuracy of distribution. It was an interesting decision to tap and go from under posts at 25 minutes and at 37 minutes the missed touch to relieve pressure was gut-wrenching. Again his defence was strong, a good turnover at 26 and a minute later smashed Henderson. In my opinion we need a 9 who’s superpower is speed of distribution so hopefully next week we have someone who can compete with Dupont.

10. Beauden Barrett – 5

Given no space early but got his first chance on the front foot in the 11th minute with a beautiful cross kick. Off with HIA with a brave tackle at 21 and didn’t come back.

11. Sevu Reece – 5

At some stage energy turns into frantic and frenetic and as the game wore on the wheels came off the the Reece bus. The microscope points to 48 minutes when he hurried a kick trying to deal with a poor pass from Rieko Ioane, and the sloppy at the base of ruck at 50 minutes. Again at 74 minutes a poor pass after a crabbing, sideways run. A good tackle count and the fact he got himself about gives him a point or two.

12. Anton Lienert-Brown – 6

No wonder his shoulder went, even a tackling machine suffers from wear and tear! His efforts were really focused on defence, but muffed a chance with a loose pop on attack in the 11th minute but did look as though Aki was offside. Off at 38 minutes.

13. Rieko Ioane – 4

Ran hot and cold like a dodgy hotel shower. Some tepid efforts were a loose carry at 4 minutes, at 48 minutes an awful pass to let Ireland off the hook. The hot, a moment of genius following up Jordan’s kick at 61 minutes and a good, empathetic pass into Jordan’s hands. Denied another assist with a forward pass to his bro in the 69th. Also a good covering tackle at 75 to keep the ABs in the hunt.

14. Will Jordan – 6.5

Seemed to be a little distracted by the intensity of the Irish, both on the field and in the crowd! Held up by Doris in 23rd and at 47 minutes a sign he was a little discombobulated when he stopped playing after not being able to catch the ball. Surely Ireland should have been able to play on there? His highlight was the try in the 61st where he made the most of some space. A barely believable 17 tries in 15 tests and was the only AB to run over 30 metres today; 82 of them off 7 carries.

15. Jordie Barrett – 5.5

No doubting his physical ability as he put his body on the line time and time again. In fact some of our tight forwards could draw inspiration with Jordie’s commitment. Had to hold for inside runner and gave Lowe too much room for their first try. A sign the AB’s were flustered was the wait for the kicking tee in the 69th minute by water boy Sam Cane.


16. Dane Coles – 6

On at 52 for good, after a brief cameo during Taylor’s yellow. A good rip to defuse the Irish lineout maul at 53 and a clever quick lineout in the 59th. Some good energy but couldn’t do it all himself.

17. Karl Tu’inukuafe – 5.5

On at 52 and the scrum looked more potent with him on the field. He lost the ball after a turnover at 71 but a pretty good outing and may get a chance next week.

18. Tyrel Lomax – 4.5

On at 52 and was solid. Black mark was the tackle penalty on Beirne at 64 that got Ireland out to 23-17.

19. Tupou Vaa’i – N/A

Was really needed and questions must be asked about the All Black strategy and Foster’s coaching.

20. Akira Ioane – 6

On at 61 and was good and focused. Loved his lineout take and scything cleanout moments later and denied a try at 67 with a brilliant line.

21. Finlay Christie – N/A

If he wasn’t fit enough to come on and add speed and impetus they should have selected Smith.

22. Richie Mo’unga – 5

On 21 early after Beaudy’s HIA and was a little anonymous with ball in hand but a healthy 13 tackles as the Irish ran at him. We needed some of the magic we see when he’s wearing a Crusaders jersey but forgot to bring his wand on.

23. David Havili – 4

On at 38. Had some ideas with ball in hand but a lot of them didn’t come off. The one that did was the miss pass that led to Jordan’s try but a litany of errors elsewhere. In the 54th he couldn’t find touch and penalised a minute later for offside. Lost ball on a crash at 59 and a looping pass to Rieko set him up to be penalised and the Irish went up 26-20.

By Mike Rehu, @RugbyPass

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