Player Ratings: Ruthless All Blacks
OPINION: After struggling to put away the Pumas last week – and ultimately succumbing 25-18 in Christchurch, the All Blacks were a different beast in Hamilton this week.
A dropped ball from Argentina saw the home team capitalise in the opening minutes with an easy three-pointer, and the scoreline blew out from there with the All Blacks racking up a 23-3 lead going into halftime.
The end result saw New Zealand prevail 53-3 – but how did the individuals rate in what was an impressive team effort?
Tom Vinicombe rates the New Zealand players:
1. Ethan de Groot – 7.5/10
Made a great charge off quick ball from Aaron Smith to slide over for his first try in the black jersey. That proved to be his one and only carry of the match. Fronted up on defence and more than held his own at the set-piece. Also looked to cause some havoc at the breakdown. Off in 52nd minute.
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 8
Made a couple of big carries in the first set of phases to kick off the game. Almost grabbed his second try in as many weeks with a strong finish off the back of some NZ pick-and-drives but it was scrubbed for a knock-on earlier in the piece. Tracked at 100 per cent in the lineout and was the All Blacks’ most prolific carrier in his time on the field, racking up metres with every effort. You can’t ask for much more. Off in 63rd minute.
3. Tyrel Lomax – 7
Had ascendency at scrum time but wasn’t quite able to convert that advantage into penalties like last week. Was a very willing carrier of the ball. Was at fault alongside his propping teammate for not securing some breakdown ball. Off in 52nd minute.
4. Sam Whitelock – 7
Made all the right calls at lineout time but took a back seat when it came to physicality. Stripped Argentina in the tackle when they were building phases inside the NZ 22 and contributed 10 hits on defence. Put his hand up as a ball carrier.
5. Scott Barrett – 6
Combined with Sam Cane to earn a penalty off a second-quarter kick-off, with the All Blacks scoring moments later. Dropped off a key tackle as the Pumas strung together some dangerous phases inside All Blacks territory in the second half.
6. Shannon Frizell – 6
Didn’t shine as he has in previous weeks but threw his shoulder into many a breakdown. Was a key target at lineout time. Fell off a tackle in the second half which handed Argentina some important field position. Off in 59th minute.
7. Sam Cane – 7.5
A nice no-look pass from the captain sent Rieko Ioane away on the run that resulted in Caleb Clarke’s try. At one stage shortly after the 30-minute mark made three tackles over three phases, including a massive one on Marcos Kremer, and unsurprisingly finished as the All Blacks’ most industrious defender. Pinged twice in quick succession midway through the second half for not rolling away at the tackle and then for slipping offside on defence. Threw the final pass for Jordie Barrett’s try after previously featuring as a ball carrier in the movement. Off in 64th minute.
8. Ardie Savea – 8
Was a man possessed in the opening quarter – perhaps in response to some questions this week regarding the All Blacks loosies’ physical dominance. Disruptive at the breakdown throughout and employed his running game to great effect. Grabbed a well-deserved try in the third quarter.
9. Aaron Smith – 7
Added more zip than in recent weeks but his running game wasn’t able to make a comeback. Off in 52nd minute.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 7.5
Mixed up his kicking game to good effect, sometimes sliding it along the ground, sometimes popping it over the top. Nailed all his shots on goal in what was not the easiest of conditions, contributing 14 points off the tee. Distributed well but ran cross-field when he tried to find seams in the Pumas defence. Off in 52nd minute.
11. Caleb Clarke – 7
Bumped off a few Argentinian defenders on a nice run and was then on hand to grab the All Blacks’ second try soon after. Popped up in the midfield later in the game but perhaps could have gotten involved earlier in the match.
12. David Havili – 7
Put in the speculative kick that led to the All Blacks’ first try of the night and then opted for a similar tactic on the half-hour mark but didn’t get the same result. Gave a nice short ball to Rieko Ioane for NZ’s third score. Was used more in a distributive role this week than the usual crash-and-bash one that’s been asked of him, and he flourished.
13. Rieko Ioane – 8.5
Showed off what a bit of pace in the midfield can produce with a scorching run to create a try for Clarke. Scored one of his own shortly before halftime. Made a brilliant break out of the 22 at the end of the third quarter which ultimately ended in one of the tries of the season. Generally showcased perhaps the best option-taking of his midfield career to date.
14. Will Jordan – 6
Managed to tap back Havili’s chip kick to help the All Blacks retain the ball en route to their first try. Tried to get himself involved in the play, popping up all over the park. Pinged once for a high tackle after slipping up on Santiago Carreras.
15. Jordie Barrett – 7
Slipped into the backline with ease. Was rarely tested under the high ball but had no issues defusing any bombs. Ran some great support lines throughout the match.
16. Dane Coles – 7
On in 63rd minute. Offloaded to Savea for the stand-in skipper’s try and hit all his targets at the lineout.
17. George Bower – 6
On in 52nd minute. Held up the scrum and was happy to cart the ball up.
18. Fletcher Newell – 5
On in 52nd minute and was sin-binned four minutes later for collapsing a maul. Got himself involved on both sides of the ball.
19. Brodie Retallick – 7
2/2 lineout. Off in 59th minute. Snared a late-game meat pie in his first match of the Rugby Championship and threw himself into contact with reckless abandon. A great cameo.
20. Dalton Papali’i – N/A
On in 64th minute.
21. Finlay Christie – 6
On in 52nd minute. Distributed well and was always on hand as a link man.
22. Beauden Barrett – 7
On in 52nd minute. Straightened the backline, which is exactly what the All Blacks needed in the final quarter. Ran over for a well-taken try to round out the contest.
23. Quinn Tupaea – 6
On in 69th minute. Made a couple of big carries late in the game.
By Tom Vinicombe, @RugbyPass