Player Ratings: New Zealand
OPINION: The All Blacks well and truly got their Rugby World Cup back on track on a warm evening in Lyon, thrashing Italy 96-17.
New Zealand had seven converted tries on the board by halftime and didn’t let up after the break, grabbing another seven in the second stanza.
How did the All Blacks rate in what was an emphatic victory?
1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 6/10
Had the better of Marco Rionni, winning one penalty and one free kick in the first half. Penalised once for playing the ball on the floor when trying to secure an NZ ruck. Off in 50th minute.
2. Codie Taylor – 8
Didn’t get his running game going but did everything else that could be asked of him. Nailed all eight of his lineout deliveries. Grabbed a turnover when Italy were building phases early in the match and then forced a breakdown penalty later in the half. Combined well with Nepo Laulala to flatten one Italian ball-carrier. Off in 57th minute.
3. Nepo Laulala – 6
A rock in the scrums – but also a rock around the park. Didn’t make any errors but largely left the busy work to his teammates. Off in 50th minute.
4. Brodie Retallick – 8
Strong in the lineouts, taking four deliveries for NZ and stealing two off Italian feeds. Put in some monstrous hits, never taking a backwards step. Pinged a couple of times, once for not releasing the tackled player before going for the steal and one for creeping up offside. Made a nice steal at the ensuing lineout to compensate for the latter. Grabbed a try following an Italian error.
5. Scott Barrett – 6
Didn’t stand out in the open field but hit plenty of breakdowns. His charge-down created a try for his locking partner. Pinged for jumping across the lineout. Shifted to blindside flanker for the last half-hour.
6. Shannon Frizell – 7
Got involved early on both sides of the ball, making one rollicking tackle. Looked good in the open field but was one of a number of players guilty of not giving the ball to dangerman Will Jordan. Plucked one Italian lineout delivery out of the air when the Azzurri were just five metres out. Off in 50th minute.
7. Dalton Papali’i – 6
Busy on defence but didn’t shine on attack thanks to the more prominent running threats around him. Still, earned himself a try after displaying great hands while running off Mark Telea. The first All Black to hit double digits in the tackle count. Off in 57th minute.
8. Ardie Savea – 8
His best performance of the year. Churned through metres with every carry. Made an excellent break out of New Zealand’s 22 off a short ball from Brodie Retallick, then made the right decision shifting the ball to Beauden Barrett. The All Blacks had their third try of the night seconds later. Again broke through the Italian defence (frankly, all too easily) with his next touch and dived over for a try of his own. Scored a second right on halftime. Assisted Will Jordan’s second with a good supporting run and popped up with the ball in hand on a couple more occasions throughout the second half to finish with 100 carry metres to his name. Penalised in front of the posts for sticking his hands in the ruck and Tommaso Allan wasted no time converting the opportunity into three points.
9. Aaron Smith – 8
Grabbed a try off the back of a push-over maul, which no doubt infuriated his teammates in the pack. Earned himself a second with a nice dart from another forward drive. Had his hat trick in the 34th minute after running a good support line off Jordie Barrett. Off in 50th minute.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 7
An understated but relatively cool, calm and collected performance. Hands let him down on a couple occasions. Hit nine out of his 10 attempts on goal. Off in 64th minute.
11. Mark Telea – 7
Did his usual damage on attack but it was his defence that perhaps impressed the most. Busted through a couple of tackles en route to the try line. A big tackle off a high-ball chase almost created a turnover. Made one nice cover tackle. Came close to grabbing a second try late in the third quarter and while he wasn’t able to beat Ange Capuozzo to the ball, he turned around and chased down the Italian wing down, forcing a turnover. Moments later, Telea created a try for Papali’i with a damaging run in the midfield.
12. Jordie Barrett – 8
An excellent return to the field. A perfectly-weighted kick-pass sent Will Jordan in for the first try of the night. Forced one breakdown penalty, getting over the ball quickly after making the tackle. Ran a nice line between two Italian defenders to set up Aaron Smith’s third touchdown. Absorbed a couple of big hits from the Azzurri defence. Found good ground with his line kicking but missed touch with one effort. Snuck in a couple of nice flick passes in the midfield. Copped one penalty for not rolling away at the ruck. Off in 64th minute.
13. Rieko Ioane – 4
Regularly made the wrong decision with the ball, running when he should have passed, passing when he should’ve gone into contact. Exposed on defence a couple of times – his failure to bring Monty Ioane to ground resulted in Italy grabbing their only try of the match. Quick hands delivered the ball to Dane Coles for his second touchdown.
14. Will Jordan – 7
Did well to plant the ball over the line with a flying dive to grab NZ’s first try. Grabbed a second from a nice kick-and-chase. Always looked threatening on the counterattack and caused plenty of problems down the right-hand flank for Italy. Kicking wasn’t always up to snuff.
15. Beauden Barrett – 7
Regularly stepped into first receiver and never put a foot wrong. Sent one kick-off directly into touch. Showed off his class in the build-up to Telea’s try.
16. Dane Coles – 7
On in 57th minute. Matched his efforts off the bench in 2021, when he scored two tries. Looked good in the wide channels and hit his lineout targets.
17. Tamaiti Williams – 7
On in 50th minute. Maintained New Zealand’s dominance at the scrum, earning two tightheads.
18. Tyrel Lomax – 7
On in 50th minute. Forced one penalty at scrum time.
19. Sam Whitelock – 5
On in 50th minute. Threw the ball to no one on attack – but at least New Zealand were working with an advantage. Now the most capped All Black of all time.
20. Sam Cane – 6
On in 57th minute. A lovely draw and pass off a lineout sent Coles away for his try. Dropped one ball cold.
21. Cam Roigard – 8
On in 50th minute. Made a great dash down the tramways to almost a score a try but was pinged for a double movement. Showed a quick pair of heels to set up a try for Anton Lienert-Brown. Almost managed to tackle Monty Ioane into touch with a nice effort on defence. Well and truly cemented his spot as NZ’s second-best halfback.
22. Damian McKenzie – 8
On in 64th minute. Sparked a nice break down the right-hand flank with his first touch – a perfect skip pass out to Jordan on the wing. Scored when he next got his next hands on the ball, showing a clean pair of heels and cutting between two Italian defenders. Clocked up an impressive 75 metres off the bench. Made one important cover tackle when Italy were looking likely. Continued the good goal-kicking, succeeding with his two attempts on the poles.
23. Anton Lienert-Brown – 7
On in 64th minute. Looked dangerous in the midfield and ran good lines off his teammates. Made one excellent covering hit on Paolo Odogwu.
By Tom Vinicombe, @RugbyPass