Player ratings: Avoiding unwanted history
OPINION: The All Blacks travelled to Edinburgh looking to bank their sixth win on the trot whilst also avoiding making unwanted history against a feisty Scottish side that has scored more than a few upsets in recent years.
While New Zealand started strongly, scoring two tries in the opening 10 minutes, the home side valiantly fought back and managed to fight their way to a nine-point lead heading into the final quarter.
The All Blacks rallied, however, grabbing the last two tries of the game to triumph 31-23, fortifying their history of success over Scotland.
Tom Vinicombe rates the New Zealand players!
1. Ethan de Groot – 5/10
Showed some ferocity at the breakdown and had no issues at the set-piece. Defence was shakey, however, missing almost as many tackles as he made. Off in 52nd minute.
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 8
Mammoth with ball in hand, to the point where he almost ran away from his supporting players thanks to his impressive leg drive. Grabbed the first try of the game from a five-metre lineout. Missed his target at lineout time just once and hit double figures on defence. Off in 57th minute.
3. Nepo Laulala – 6
One of his busiest games on the carry, trailing behind just his front-row teammate Taukei’aho. Did his part at the set-piece and cleared out some big bodies at the breakdown. Off in 52nd minute.
4. Sam Whitelock – 6
Made a couple of handy carries and was industrious on defence. Didn’t have too much luck unlocking Scotland’s lineout. Penalised for collapsing the maul.
5. Scott Barrett – 7
Got involved in plenty of grunt work and hit plenty of breakdowns, particularly in the second half when NZ had all 15 men on the field. Threw himself over the goal line for New Zealand’s third try of the match. Pinged once for jumping across the lineout. Off in 71st minute.
6. Akira Ioane – 6
Got scorched by Stuart Hogg on the outside but managed to ankle-tap the Scottish fullback to shut down the attack. Helped stymy a bit of Scotland’s momentum at the beginning of the second quarter with a good breakdown steal. Trucked the ball up when needed but was outplayed by his opposite. Off in 60th minute.
7. Dalton Papali’i – 7
Put an end to Scotland’s first attacking foray with some good work at the breakdown. Caught out on defence in the lead-up to Scotland’s first try of the match thanks to a snappy set-play. Was forced into making a bucketload of tackles, which inhibited his ability to cause too much havoc at the breakdown until the final quarter where he stood up in a big way.
8. Ardie Savea – 8
As always, carried well and was damaging at the breakdown. Grabbed an early turnover for NZ and then won a penalty at the end of the first half that prevented an almost certain Scotland try. Copped one penalty for an accidental high tackle then ‘earned’ one right back.
9. Finlay Christie – 5
Gave reasonable delivery to his teammates but certainly didn’t offer the razor-sharp accuracy of Aaron Smith. Knocked the ball on at the base of the ruck when the All Blacks were building nicely. Off in 57th minute.
10. Beauden Barrett – 4
One of his least influential games in the No 10 jersey, with the All Blacks starved of quick, clean ball. A nice grubber through was the initial spark for the All Blacks’ second try but his later attempts at short kicks didn’t reap rewards.
11. Caleb Clarke – 4
A second relatively quiet game in a row. Took one high ball superbly in traffic. Dropped the ball cold in the second half. Caught out on defence on a few occasions – including when Darcy Graham almost scored a spectacularly acrobatic try.
12. David Havili – 4
Had plenty of runners crashing into him in the midfield but generally held strong. His first cross-field kick of the game didn’t exactly hit the mark, but Telea turned the wonky old punt into an attacking opportunity. Threw an intercept pass, which Darcy Graham converted into a try. Off in 54th minute.
13. Anton Lienert-Brown – 5
Not the return to the starting midfield he would have been looking for. Pounced on Barrett’s grubber to set up Clarke on a good charge down the field. Was yellow-carded soon after when he ‘prevented’ Stuart Hogg from scoring. Pinged for getting offside, with Finn Russell taking the easy 3. Shut down a likely try with a good goal-line steal and looked better later in the piece when he was tucked with trucking the ball forward.
14. Mark Telea – 8
Looked good with his first touch in a black jersey, skipping around Scotland’s Stuart Hogg. Was in a great position to take a kick-pass from his fullback to bag a try with his second touch of the ball. Pinged once for not rolling away from the tackle and missed one tackle on Hogg which could have been dicey, and was guilty of being shepherded into touch once or twice – a cardinal sin for a winger.
15. Jordie Barrett – 6
Barely got his hands on the ball in the first half and wasn’t able to bring his carrying game to the fore. A beautiful cross-field kick created Telea’s try. Was left flat-footed by Graham en route to Scotland’s second score. Highlight might have been him throwing off two or three Scotland defenders in the dying moments of the match. Nailed his kicks on goal.
16. Codie Taylor – 7
On in 57th minute. An excellent cameo off the bench. Put his head down and barrelled into the Scottish defence. Wrapped his arms around the ball to force a turnover off a Scotland lineout.
17. George Bower – 7
Off in 52nd minute. Pinged in front of the posts for an early shove at scrum time, with Scotland banking the penalty. Grabbed a penalty back later in the half. Carried well.
18. Fletcher Newell – 5
Off in 52nd minute. Hummed about the park without making any sizeable contributions.
19. Tupou Vaa’i – N/A
On in 71st minute. Showed soft hands in his limited time on the field.
20. Shannon Frizell – 7
On in 60th minute. Showed a bit of power and thrust down the flanks.
21. Thomas Perenara – 8
On in 57th minute. Made a couple of massive plays in the final 10 minutes.
22. Stephen Perofeta – N/A
On in 80th minute.
23. Rieko Ioane – 8
On in 54th minute. Added some much-needed midfield power off the pine. Drew in two defenders then offloaded out to Telea for the All Blacks’ decisive try.