Player Ratings: Rampant All Blacks
OPINION: As we know the US of A is big on fanfare and entertainment and the prematch theatre got us in an expectant mood for a huge game.
And huge it was in terms of scoreline. The All Blacks blasting a depleted US team and cracking the ton, 104-14 in Washington DC.
The first half was one-way traffic as the All Blacks savoured getting on the field for the first time in a few weeks, some of the players having their first outings in months.
59-7 at halftime, the US showing some real backbone, holding on to the ball for longer periods and the AB’s subs not really firing in the second stanza.
Mike Rehu rates the All Blacks players!
1. Ethan de Groot – 7.5
Foster mentioned earlier in the week that Gore’s finest was fizzing at the bung in his first start. He didn’t look like he’d had much sleep but the nerves would have calmed down after scoring six minutes in. Off at 49.
2. Asafo Aumua – 6
Some punishing runs but still some wobbles with his targets at the back of the line-out. Off at 49.
3. Angus Ta’avao – 8
Enjoyed doing shuttle runs along the tram lines to score tries. Got himself a brace in the 34th and 41st minutes, off eight minutes later. Scrum solid, will probably earn an MLR contract with that outing if he wants to travel in the future.
4. Sam Whitelock – 7.5
Good to see the big man in command and his presence gives a levity. One blot, he missed the ball runner in 40th for USA’s try. Off 57.
4. Tupou Vaa’i – 8.5
There seems to be a changing of the guard coming at lock and I believe the locking combination today will be our first choice by the French game. There’s no doubt Retallick changed the game with his distribution and running, but Vaa’i has taken it to another level. He was the regular first receiver and used some beautiful deception taking the ball to the line. My favourite was the double pump to a rear runner that led to Jacobson’s second try. A bit of razzle dazzle going astray late in first half, but this guy has a wonderful mix of physicality and ball-playing ability.
6. Luke Jacobson – 8
A dream day for a No.6 where your side has a surfeit of ball and the defensive duties aren’t too onerous. Latched on to an inside pass for the first minute try, cleaned out nicely in the 21st minute, got to his feet and seconds after that a nifty step on the right wing for his second try. We got to see him concentrating more on the basics in the second spell on staunch defence, cleaning out and also defused a rolling maul at 66.
7. Dalton Papalii – 7
Just buried himself in the first half, opened it up after the oranges, good linking in the 41st minute for big Angus’ second try, sprinted for his own five-pointer at 48 minutes and then subbed.
8. Hoskins Sotutu – 6.5
Mixed game for the No 8, some strong turnovers and dashes on the periphery. Got penalised a couple of times and probably would have expected to do more from the base of the scrum.
9. Finlay Christie – 8.5
Brilliant performance from the ginger ninja, splendid support, pace to the breakdown and some angry defence and turnovers. The Sky pundits talking about a bench spot down the road, but surely his all round game must be considered for regular starting?
10. Richie Mo’unga – 8
Mr Cool ran the game in an understated manner. Took a huge hit to set the outside backs away for first try. Couple of highlights, decided to have a go himself with a chip kick at 25 minutes, got the inside ball from Jordan and then somehow retained his balance over obstacles and a push from Christie to nab a try. Another good break for Papalii’s try. Off at 59.
11. George Bridge – 4
Has really drifted down the pecking order by not taking his chances in his last three outings. Off at 54
12. Quinn Tupaea – 8.5
Continued the great from he has shown off the bench. Always runs straight, sets targets makes crafty decisions with ball in hand and also off the ball to get into good support lines. The only thing he lacks when weighed up against Havili is a kicking game; at the moment. Well deserved first try for the ABs in the 38th minute.
13. Braydon Ennor – 8
Had a good first start in the black jersey and was one player picked out by Foster, the outside centre position took a lot of the defensive heat and both he and ALB will be nursing some bruises. He was always brave and got rewarded by more space after the move to wing. Got some revenge on the US’s Campbell with an angry hit on defence late in game.
14. Will Jordan – 9.5
A hat-trick with 15 tries in 10 tests now, but it wasn’t just the finishing that underlined his prowess. His work rate was indefatigable, power moves popping up on the left wing a number of times, including the lead up to Ta’avao’s first try. Even had time for a bit of charity work, lifting his opposite’s legs up so they could score their second try.
15. Damian McKenzie – 9
Was the type of game that suited his speed, skill and vision. Like Mo’unga, his ability to twist and turn then set off the break at pace was gob-smacking. He is a fantastic brand ambassador in these situations as well, a small man who can prosper against giants. Hopefully his performance will inspire young Americans to take up the game and emulate him.
16. Dane Coles – 7
On at 49 and seriously amped to be on the field again. A powerful scrum at 61 and a smart try at 78 with some fast feet. One mark off for an awful chip kick!
17. George Bower – 5
On at 49, was good at times but free kicked at 52 in first scrum. Got one back at 61 with a good effort on US put in.
18. Tyrel Lomax – 4
On at 49 and not a great start losing the ball twice and was certainly part of the equation that saw the Kiwi effort flag.
19. Josh Lord – 6
I was shocked at anthem time to see he’s five or six cm taller than on Vaa’i. On at 57 and wasn’t overawed and was certainly enjoying himself with ball in hand.
20. Sam Cane – 4
On at 49. It’s a long way from the King Country to Washington DC and he’ll continue his way back soon you’d think. Probably a good man to have against Italy.
21. TJ Perenara – 3
On at 54, he’s trending down. Scruffy passing from the base, good run at 59 but then ruined it by popping a pass forward. On the plus side a brave turnover and got the ABs to 100 with a classic halfback line.
22. Beauden Barrett – 5.5
On at 59, a bit quiet but managed to slip away for a 37th test try.
23. Anton Lienert-Brown – 6.5
On at 54 and scored a try seconds later thanks to a lovely ball from Tupaea. He found it as hard as Ennor to be at the pinch point on attack taking a lot of heavy hits but never shirked.
By Mike Rehu, @RugbyPass