Player Ratings: All Blacks send out World Cup message
OPINION: The All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup in convincing fashion, thumping the Wallabies 36-0 at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
Here are our player ratings for the winning side:
1 Joe Moody – 6.5
Worked in tandem with his Laulala to dominate the scrum at various stages throughout the match. Pinged for a blatant side-entry into the breakdown in the first half.
2 Dane Coles – 4
A joint offside call with Whitelock almost led to the Wallabies’ opening penalty. Went on to needlessly manhandle Nic White and end up in the sin bin. Needs to control his temperament, especially leading into the World Cup knock-out matches.
3 Nepo Laulala – 6.5
An unfortunate handling error on the fringe of the Australian 22 halted some good momentum for his side was quickly followed by a penalty for collapsing the scrum. However, was probably the strongest scrummager among the front three.
4 Patrick Tuipulotu – 6.5
Went missing for large parts of the opening half, but put two impressive hits on Beale on either side of half-time. Didn’t miss a tackle, won a turnover, and looks in good stead for a World Cup spot, despite unfavourable outings earlier this year.
5 Sam Whitelock – 6
Although imposing when tackling, a couple of defensive mishaps, and then an offside call right on his own tryline, almost led to some Australian points being scored on more than one occasion. A knock on also cost Sevu Reece a double, but still registered a match-high 16 tackles.
6 Ardie Savea – 7.5
Set the tone early on with a couple of barging runs inside Wallabies territory. Backed it up with staunch defence. Combined well with Cane and Read as they begin to find their feet as a back row trio at this level together.
7 Sam Cane – 6.5
Went about his work quietly, but a turnover penalty at the breakdown near half-time highlighted his value within the side. Ended the match with 10 tackles and a turnover for good measure.
8 Kieran Read – 6.5
Didn’t set the world alight, but made all 13 of his tackles and won his side a pair of turnover. Made an emphatic tackle on Reece Hodge late in the game to help ram home the All Blacks’ dominance.
9 Aaron Smith – 9
His kicking from the base of the ruck was nothing short of spectacular, and it’s a facet of his game which looks to be equally as valuable as his wicked passing. Scored a well-deserved try, which came off the back of some good support play from Bridge’s first half break.
10 Richie Mo’unga – 8
Showed a clean pair of heels to score his try and kicked his goals efficiently. Directed the game superbly, and finally got some success out of his partnership with Beauden Barrett at flyhalf and fullback.
11 George Bridge – 8.5
Brave defensive read to force the error which led to Mo’unga’s try. Followed that up with a cracker of a try assist for Aaron Smith, after slicing the Wallabies’ defence with his speed and astute running lines. Complemented his assist with a try of his own in the dying stages.
12 Sonny Bill Williams – 7
Was quiet in the first half, but scored a try early in the second stanza which empitomised his strength and brute force. Wasn’t afraid to through some offloads around, as expected. Let Matt Toomua around him for an easy line break shortly afterwards, though.
13 Anton Lienert-Brown – 8
Like his midfield partner, Lienert-Brown was hardly sighted in the first half, but he ended the game with a match-high running metres, and wowed the crowd with a great piece of defence on Taniela Tupou, which won possession back for his side while on the back foot. Nabbed a try assist for Bridge
14 Sevu Reece – 9
Solid try-saving tackle on Marika Koroibete to force a knock on. Scooped up a dropped high ball from Kurtley Beale to set Sam Cane away, which showed good awareness from the test rookie. Was difficult to bring down, and was very clever en route to scoring his first-ever try at test level. Could have had two were it not for Whitelock’s knock on.
15 Beauden Barrett – 7.5
Interesting attempt at a drop goal inside in the 10th minute – perhaps a feature we’ll see more of come World Cup time? A couple of nice touches throughout, including a nice counter-attack which helped Bridge and Aaron Smith combine for a try.
16 Codie Taylor – 6.5
17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 6
18 Angus Ta’avao – 6
19 Jackson Hemopo – 6
10 Matt Todd– 6
21 TJ Perenara – 6.5
Stole a key turnover at the breakdown from Reece Hodge inside his own 22 to defuse the Australian attack. Did the same thing again near the end of the match. Had a big ask to come on and emulate the efforts of Smith, and performed admirably.
22 Ngani Laumape – 6
23 Jordie Barrett – 7
Made a real impact when introduced into the game. Took a spectacular diving catch and proved his worth on defence. Lovely try assist for Reece.
By Alex McLeod, @RugbyPass