Player Ratings: New Zealand
OPINION: The All Blacks have secured their place in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final with a 44-6 win over Argentina in Paris.
Los Pumas scored the first points of the match through Emiliano Boffelli but New Zealand soon jumped ahead following a try to the prodigious Will Jordan and held the lead for the rest of the match.
Who were the All Blacks’ best performers at the Stade de France?
1. Ethan de Groot – 9/10
A pest at the breakdowns; didn’t secure any turnovers for New Zealand but certainly helped slow down Argentina’s ball. Showed off his prowess at the scrum. Only had to pack down for two in the first half (forcing a penalty in the second) and made use of all the extra energy by amassing 13 tackles before the break – likely a record for the young prop in Test rugby. Finished with 16. Earned a penalty advantage with the first scrum following the break. Off in 56th minute.
2. Codie Taylor – 8
Busy on defence in the opening minutes of the match, hitting double figures on the tackle count before the first quarter was up. Didn’t find himself in much space with the ball but tucked his head and threw himself into contact all the same. Left the field as the All Blacks’ busiest carrier. Off in 51st minute.
3. Tyrel Lomax – 7
Wasn’t quite as impressive as his propping partner but still put in a solid shift. Came within inches of scoring a try twice within the same set of phases shortly after half-time. Copped the first penalty of the game for an off-the-ball tackle on Thomas Gallo. Boffelli made no mistakes converting the misdemeanor into three points for Argentina. Earned one penalty back in the second half at the set-piece. Off in 56th minute.
4. Sam Whitelock – 7
Dependable on defence and a rock at the lineout, securing all of his deliveries and stealing one from Los Pumas. Will likely still shift back to the reserves next week. Off in 61st minute.
5. Scott Barrett – 7
Made a couple of big, barrelling runs close to the breakdown. Pounced on one ball loose ball near the All Blacks’ goal line to shit down an Argentine attack. Pinged for racing around the breakdown before the ball had fully emerged. Had a brain fade in the 66th minute and was sent to the bin for slapping the ball out of Gonzalo Bertranou’s hands at the breakdown.
6. Shannon Frizell – 8
Wasn’t quite as dynamic as we’ve become accustomed to in 2023 but certainly kept himself busy, finishing as equal top tackler with 18 to his name. Scored NZ’s third try right on halftime as the last man on the left edge. Had to work a bit harder for his second, forcing his way over after some unsuccessful repeated efforts from his teammates. Turned over one Argentinian ball. Dropped a couple of kick-offs.
7. Sam Cane – 7
Helped Jordie Barrett secure the All Blacks’ first breakdown penalty of the match. Performed a similar role at the beginning of the second quarter to assist a steal for Frizell. As he’s sometimes wont to do, dropped the ball cold on one occasion – the All Blacks’ first knock-on in over 110 minutes of play. Another big shift on defence. Off in 66th minute.
8. Ardie Savea – 8
An industrious, somewhat understated game from the blockbusting number 8 – perhaps still coming down from the high of last week’s performance against Ireland – but still just as effective. Combined once again with Will Jordan to send the winger away for his third try of the night. Just behind Frizell on the tackle count.
9. Aaron Smith – 7
Had a quiet first half but sparked to life at the beginning of the second spell, scoring a nice individual try off the back of a dominant All Blacks scrum. Made one crucial cover tackle when Facundo Isa looked to spark something for Argentina down the short side. Off in 56th minute.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 8
Looked great in the open field making a couple of scything breaks to get his team on the front foot. Tidied up some loose ball in New Zealand’s red zone. Popped up in the wider channels to do some good work on defence. Delivered NZ a well-taken 50-22. The only blight was his goal kicking wasn’t always on song – and didn’t hand Jordan his fourth try with time almost up and the line begging.
11. Mark Telea – 8
Didn’t get too many opportunities in open space but still caused plenty of problems for the Argentinian defence. Beat five defenders in the build-up to Frizell’s try and finished the match with 14 broken tackles. Secured one breakdown turnover. Beaten to the high ball by Boffelli.
12. Jordie Barrett – 8
Forced a turnover early in the match when Argentina had some nice momentum. Used his not insignificant mass to crash over for a well-taken try – and generally made some nice metres whenever he tucked and ran. Found good distance with a couple of penalties. Decked Nico Sanchez with a massive hit shortly before full-time. Equalled Frizell for total tackles made. Penalised for getting in the way of halfback Bertranou just a couple of metres out from the line to hand Los Pumas an easy three points.
13. Rieko Ioane – 7
Sparked a nice counter-attack from inside the All Blacks’ 22 and managed to find Mo’unga to keep the move going. Showed good pace to track back and shut down an Argentina assault launched from within their own 22. Off in 61st minute.
14. Will Jordan – 8
Scored two relatively effectively easy tries, then finished off the night with a brilliant individual effort from halfway, taking his tally to 31 from 30 Tests. Couldn’t rein in a cross-field kick from his No 12 and sometimes looked in two minds when challenging the line.
15. Beauden Barrett – 6
Covered the backfield well and stepped into first receiver when needed but wasn’t able to ignite anything on attack. Made one great high ball take but promptly when into touch. Off in 56th minute.
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho
On in 51st minute. 2/3 lineout. A titan off the pine, making ample metres with every carry of the ball. Forced a fumble from Bertranou by hitting a breakdown with some venom and may have forced his way into the first-choice 23 for next weekend’s final.
17. Tamaiti Williams – 7
On in 56th minute. Made a couple of strong carries.
18. Fletcher Newell – 6
On in 56th minute. Defended well and hit plenty of rucks.
19. Brodie Retallick – 7
On in 61st minute. Earned some nice metres around the breakdown.
20. Dalton Papali’i – N/A
On in 66th minute.
21. Finlay Christie – 6
On in 56th minute. Looked fairly sharp with the ball – no doubt fizzing after sitting on the bench for all of last week’s clash.
22. Damian McKenzie – 5
On in 56th minute. A bit scrappy off the bench.
23. Anton Lienert-Brown – 5
On in 61st minute. Missed one tackle out wide.
By Tom Vinicombe, @RugbyPass