Player ratings: Sinking ship
OPINION: The All Blacks travelled to South Africa with one task on the agenda – righting the ship that had veered so seriously off-course in their two most recent matches with Ireland.
From the outset in Mbombela, however, the Springboks’ had the upper hand. Their first try came in just the eighth minute and they remained at least seven points clear of their opposition throughout the remainder of the game.
A late try to Shannon Frizell helped restore some respect to the scoreline for the All Blacks, which had ballooned out to 19-3 in the Springboks’ favour, but the home side managed to score with time effectively up on the clock, ultimately securing them a comfortable 26-10 victory.
Tom Vinicombe rates the New Zealand players!
1. George Bower – 4/10
Industrious on defence, topping the tackle chart for the All Blacks. Didn’t feature with ball in hand. Copped one penalty at scrum time but otherwise appeared to have parity with his opposites. Off in 63rd minute.
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 7
The pick of the All Blacks. The All Blacks’ strongest carrier in the first half, typically taking two or three defenders to bring him to ground. Free-kicked at the first scrum but nailed all his lineouts in a high-pressure environment and generally justified his selection in the No 2 jersey. Off in 56th minute.
3. Angus Ta’avao – 3.5
Pinged at the first Springboks scrum and again late in the first half but got one back of his own right before the halftime break. Tried to get himself involved on attack with some short passes. Wasn’t quite the disaster some had predicted but didn’t exactly hold his own either. Off in 48th minute.
4. Sam Whitelock – 5.5
Tackled fiercely and was mighty at lineout time against some very good operators. No longer offers much with the ball in hand but the fact that New Zealand was able to retain their own ball at the lineout gave them some semblance of hope of putting up a fight when not a lot went their way.
5. Scott Barrett – 5
Won a good turnover when the Boks were attacking early in the second half. Otherwise carried strongly but like his teammates, struggled to assert himself against the more powerful Springboks forwards. Carried Off in 73rd minute.
6. Akira Ioane – 4.5
Made some good carries and hit rucks but his night will be remembered for that awful in-field pass that drifted well forward when the All Blacks were on the counter-attack. Off in 56th minute.
7. Sam Cane – 5
Made a great tackle on Malolm Marx to force a knock-on at halfway. Pinged once for going off his feet while attempting a steal. Generally struggled to offer much at breakdown time.
8. Ardie Savea – 6.5
Secured a defensive breakdown penalty when the Springboks were hot on attack inside the 22 and always looked to get the ball in his hands but couldn’t quite replicate his destructive feats from prior games. Threw a great short ball to Will Jordan to create a linebreak.
9. Aaron Smith – 5
Struggled to ignite his backline but had to deal with some turgid, sloppy ball. Off in 70th minute.
10. Beauden Barrett – 5.5
Regularly took on the line. Couldn’t take a high bomb early doors, with the Springboks pouncing on the error to score their first try of the match. Sparked a brilliant counter-attack from inside his own goal after managing to prevent a 50-22, with the All Blacks bringing the ball back to halfway. Taken off for an HIA in the final minutes after a terrible aerial challenge from Kurt-Lee Arendse.
11. Caleb Clarke – 5
Quiet in the first half but the ball came his way more in the second. Threw himself into half-gaps but was never quite able to break through the defence.
12. David Havili – 4
Couldn’t make any impact as a ball-carrier and struggled to create opportunities for the men outside him. Dropped one ball late when the All Blacks were starting to put some phases together, and South Africa almost managed to capitalise. Tackled stoutly but simply not the answer in the No 12 jersey.
13. Rieko Ioane – 4
Didn’t offer any incisiveness in the midfield but the ball rarely came his way. Off in 64th minute. Returned with time almost up in place of Beauden Barrett.
14. Will Jordan – 4
Kicked the ball out on the full with his first touch of the game – in the 42nd minute. Ran a great line off Savea – which seems to be becoming a specialty of the combo – to get the All Blacks out of trouble from deep inside their own half.
15. Jordie Barrett – 5.5
Made a great covering tackle on Makazole Mapimpi to prevent what looked a likely try in the first five minutes. Was taken out Sam Cane when he was going for a high ball and didn’t look right for the rest of his time on the field. Off in 53rd minute.
16. Dane Coles – 2
On in 56th minute. A horror run off the bench for the experienced head. Couldn’t find his target with his first lineout delivery and then knocked the ball on with his first carry. His third lineout throw also wasn’t straight. Stymied any attempts from the All Blacks at building momentum.
17. Ethan de Groot
On in 63rd minute.
18. Tyrel Lomax
On in 48th minute. Pinged immediately for illegal scrummaging but came right afterwards.
19. Tupou Vaa’i – N/A
On in 73rd minute.
20. Shannon Frizell – 4.5
On in 56th minute. Made one big tackle with his first act of the game and had a strong 10-second burst where he threw off a would-be tackle and then got up in support of Clarke’s run to grab a well-taken try. Moments later, dropped a ball and the Springboks kicked through to score the final blow of the game.
21. Finlay Christie – N/A
On in 70th minute.
22. Richie Mo’unga – 6.5
On in 53rd minute. Sniped a few gaps and looked full of vigour. One brilliant chasing tackle prevented a sure try. Nailed a sideline conversion to ensure the All Blacks didn’t fall to their worst-ever defeat at the hands of the Springboks.
23. Quinn Tupaea – 5
On in 64th minute. Entered the game in the centre role – the first time he’s played in the position for the All Blacks.