Player Ratings: The Champs
OPINION: Who would have called it? A century of storied history culminating in the 100th Test match between South Africa and New Zealand……in Townsville.
A steamy 24 degrees greeted the combatants, one late change with Luke Jacobson succumbing to a stomach complaint, Ethan Blackadder slotting in to the No.7 jersey, Ardie Savea moving to No.8 and Hoskins Sotutu on the bench.
It was very much the tortoise vs the hare in terms of the pace of play, where the All Blacks tried to play with velocity but the Boks were in molasses crawling to line outs, taking injury knees to slow the tempo.
After a flurry of tries in the first five minutes it turned into trench warfare with tough defence forcing many errors. Jordie Barrett was the hero with a 45 metre penalty with minutes remaining that saw the All Blacks take it out 19-17.
Mike Rehu rates the All Blacks.
1. Joe Moody – 6
Seemed to have the wood on Malherbe in what looked like a ZZ Top convention on that side of the scrum. However the well-coiffed ref Luke Pearce decided against him a couple of times. Only attributed with one tackle which is poor. Off at 57.
2. Codie Taylor – 6.5
He’s back in form with the ball in hand however suffered from some errant line out throwing. Started the test showing some prowess on the right flank, cleaning up a wayward pass from Beaudy and straightening brilliantly for the Jordan try. Off at 63.
3. Nepo Laulala – 7
Carried his heart out in midfield and some real muscle in the collision zone. Had the measure of Nyakane and coped with the fresh legs of Kitshoff until he was subbed at 57 minutes.
4. Brodie Retallick – 6
Had to bury his head more than usual and didn’t shirk in contact. Silly blocking penalty in the 11th minute to give the Boks three points. A good line out steal in the 21st minute but he will want to lift at lineout time next week, the All Blacks were nullified with 4 steals from the African tall timber and being dominated from line-out mauls.
5. Scott Barrett – 6.5
Loves these games and relishes the physicality. Had a good gallop up the middle first half and ended up with 29 metres with 4 carries. Lost a crucial line out on attack in 39th minute which could have been costly. His highlight for me was three muscular runs at 58 minutes giving some real go forward in midfield. Off at 64.
6. Akira Ioane – 4.5
Very poor and not in the zone in the first half. His only contributions were 2 dropped balls at 30 and 39 and one paltry carry at 36. Probably got a rev up at halftime and looked to get his hands on the ball more. Big tackle on de Jager in the 56th minute and off at 69. Will be lucky to retain his spot next week.
7. Ethan Blackadder – 9
Thrown into the starting lineup he made every post a winner right from his first carry and determined turnover in the 8th minute. Great source of line out ball at the front, top tackler in the match and leading mauls. There’s a real old school vibe in the irrepressible way he plays. Tupaea was feted with the match-winning turnover but look who made the aggressive tackle! Yes, Blackadder again.
8. Ardie Savea (captain) – 6
Splendid charge in the 13th but needs to work on ball carrying at 8. Focussed on defence though with reasonable numbers.
9. TJ Perenara – 5
An erratic performance coming off a run of good form. A couple of times just too hurried snatching at the ball and some below average passing, the worst the awful fling to Havili in the 64th minute, and subbed a minute later.
10. Beauden Barrett – 6
Looked frenetic early with some ugly passes and scuffed kicks. With the rush defence in his face and some slow service he found it difficult to distribute to his midfield.
11. George Bridge – 5
I urge you to watch the game video at 4’44” on the clock. Bridge went up and won an attacking kick off Vermeulen and the bulky number 8 “accidentally” landed his knee on Bridge’s head. That’s something that is not spoken about with the Springbok kicking plan, they often put the catcher through the thresher. A minute later he made a meal of a high ball from de Klerk to gift a five-pointer for Nkosi, continued dropping them in the 26th and 54th minute. Had some decent running meres; 55 of 9 carries. Off at 74.
12. David Havili – 6.5
Was looking good early with some good options, first up a nice kick into space and a looping pass outside to space. One deficiency he needs to work on at 12 is busting the tackle, and de Allende enjoyed smashing him.
13. Rieko Ioane – 5
Nice quick pass at 30 on attack but suffered from the misfiring backline. We didn’t see the much-vaunted ball carrying as the Springboks blocked passing lines expertly.
14. Will Jordan – 6
Can sniff a try chance and was Willy on the spot for the first try off the shoulder of Taylor for his 12th try in 9th tests. Top metres for the champions but looked rattled at times, in the 18th spilling the ball and a wayward pass in the 54th. Off at 57.
15. Jordie Barrett – 9.5
Apart from a muffed early kick he was outstanding with quick restarts, straight running and solid under the high balls and immaculate placekicking. He’s made for these wars both corporeally and mentally and for me has sealed the 15 jersey for big games.
By Mike Rehu, @RugbyPass