Player Ratings: Back on top
OPINION: There is something old school about getting up early on a spring morning, grabbing a coffee and watching a packed stadium of rabid Europeans finding joy backing their team in taking on the All Blacks.
There was a discernible change in the All Black style, committing more forwards to the breakdown and a focus on ‘earning the right’ to bust free.
And break free they did in the last quarter as the brave Welsh tired, the Kiwi bench added some impetus and the All Blacks hit their straps with 33 points in the last 24 minutes.
Mike Rehu rates the New Zealand players
1. Joe Moody – 7/10
Was active in the trenches today, a solid scrum penalty in the 15th minute and won some crucial collisions. Off at 61.
2. Codie Taylor – 7.5
Understated but effective today. The lineout was purring and he was really good off the ball at the smash zone and supporting his runners with cleanouts. Off at 61.
3. Nepo Laulala – 6.5
Tightheads are usually buried in the thick of things but Nepo saw a lot of the spotlight in this game. A huge beaming smile when he thought he’d scored in the 26th minute but denied by failing to regather a knock on. Two minutes later he got a scrum penalty which I am sure is far more satisfying than those frivolous fiver-pointers! Then he received a yellow card in the 39th minute for being the secondary tackler with no arms/contact with the head. Off at 61.
4. Brodie Retallick – 6.5
Vim and vigour early on and some good carries. I wonder if he was feeling that shoulder at 56 minutes as he knocked on from the kick off and then penalised for not rolling at 59. Then walked off gingerly at 60. This could put pressure on the team’s locking stocks and if I was Frizell I’d be taping up my ears!
5. Sam Whitelock – 7
His first entry into a ruck resulted in a turnover penalty. Called the line outs, handled the ref perfectly and the All Black pack looks so much stronger with him at the core. Will Foster stick with him as full-time captain for the big games? It would seem like the right thing to do two years out from the next World Cup.
6. Ethan Blackadder – 8
Workaholic performance from the loosie and he has become such an effective cog in the machine. Game high tackling effort, it was a shock to see he was mortal when he missed a tackle in the 20th minute and the dropped a carry at 48 minutes.
7. Dalton Papalii – 7
Got better as the game went on and New Zealand broke the Welsh down. Had his hands full with his opposite Basham. After a workman-like first half, a classic turnover in the 45th and found himself clear after a Blackaddaer lineout take 5 metres out and nice twist and turn to get a try at 64 minutes; then off.
8. Ardie Savea – 9
The centurion may have got the player of the match award but in terms in play Ardie was the purist’s winner. He was everywhere on both sides of the ball. A couple of runs to set out his stall early on, then 4 carries in the lead up to Laulala’s failed try and another herculean carry to set up Perenara in the 34th minute. A cool surfing turnover in the 50th minute and splendid continuity in the 66th for Reece’s try.
9. TJ Perenara – 7
A more measured outing from the halfback and he got himself a try. Interesting shoot up defence that put pressure on the Welsh attack. Off at 61.
10. Beauden Barrett – 8.5
Started his celebrations early in the 4th minute of his 100th match for his 38th All Black try. Was a bit guilty of an aimless kick or two but sensed when to cut the backs loose in the last quarter and put some icing on the cake in the 79th minute snaffling a loose pass try to get the ABs to 50 points.
11. Rieko Ioane – 7
Nice piece of play to stop the ball going out in the 8th minute, then moments later did well to chase a deep kick but beaten all ends up by Wainwright. His move to centre coincided with the All Blacks accelerating and he got his hands on the ball and looked smooth.
12. David Havili – 7
He was busy early, getting involved with tackles and plucky runs. He was charged down in the 14th minute and is still battling to find his mojo at 12 in test rugby especially against strong opponents, it’s a difficult task to drill yards in the midfield. A strong tackle count and a brave piece of work on the ground to claim loose lineout ball. Off at 61.
13. Anton Lienert-Brown — 7.5
Huge chiropractic work on the back of Wales’ Johnny Williams in the 9th minute, a brutal turnover in the 20th minute. A well-deserved try at 71 to cap off a tidy game by one of the team’s leaders.
14. Will Jordan – 8.5
Some nice touches with safe takes and finally got to ‘spread the legs’ in the 44th minute. Ten minutes later ‘the Freak’ came out and that started the All Blacks golden period. Swerve, break, chip and try! A bit like AB legend Christian Cullen, Jordan can make it look simple, his 16th try in his 11th test. Off at 68.
15. Jordie Barrett – 8
Always reassuring to see Whitelock in the pack and Jordie at the back. When AWJ reels away from tackling you, you know you’re tough. A good, direct run in 35th minute that led to the Perenara try and cool kicking performance in the noisey Cardiff Stadium.
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 7
On at 61 and a solid outing from the rake. Linked well with Blackadder at the back of the lineout and supported well on attack.
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe – 7
On at 61 and enjoyed dripping some acid on the red scrum.
18. Tyrel Lomax – 6.5
On at 40 for some scrumming in the absence of Laulala. Managed to help reset a scrum 4 times to soak up some yellow card time. Back at 61 and did well to ramp it up.
19. Tupou Vaa’i – 7.5
On at 60 and the highlight was a beautiful run in 76th. His distribution is awesome at first receiver, we can now expect opposition trying to defuse him. For all his work in the open he doesn’t shirk the tight work.
20. Akira Ioane – 6
On at 60 and some big defence at 66. Deserves a start next week to see if he can peg back some of his contenders for the black 6 jersey.
21. Brad Weber – 6
On at 61 and immediately more speed from the base. At 73 minutes, not for the first time in the last month he botched a last pass for try.
22. Richie Mo’unga – 6
On at 68 and a couple of runs. Will be interesting to see whether they give him a start at 10 next week or give someone like Dmac a shot there against Italy.
23. Sevu Reece – 8
On at 61 and some outstanding work lighting the touch paper. Most amazing work was in the 67th minute, where he touched the ball 3 times, getting to his feet quickly and rewarded with finishing off the try.
By Mike Rehu, Rugbypass