Player Ratings: Back with a bang
OPINION: The All Blacks arrived at Ellis Park in Johannesburg looking to avenge last week’s 10-26 loss without any semblance of form to call on.
Having fallen to three successive losses, they unsurprisingly entered the match as massive outsiders – but it was the All Blacks who had the better run of the opening half hour, outscoring the Springboks 15 points to zip.
The home side raced back into the contest as the game wore on, however, and the All Blacks found themselves just a single point ahead going into the final quarter.
The Springboks took the lead with 12 minutes left to play but it was the unfancied New Zealanders who had the better of the final 10, with David Havili and Scott Barrett both touching down to hand the All Blacks a 35-23 win.
Tom Vinicombe rates the New Zealand players.
1. Ethan de Groot – 5.5/10
Incurred one scrum penalty late in the first half, which Handre Pollard converted into three points, but otherwise held his own in what was easily the biggest match of his career to date. Didn’t offer much around the park but in a game against the Springboks, set-piece security is far and away the priority. Off in 52nd minute.
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 6.5
Threw two line-out deliveries clean over the top but otherwise hit his targets. Forced his way over the line from close range for a well-taken try and was generally the All Blacks’ busiest carrier during his time on the park, notching up 11 in the first half alone. Off in 56th minute.
3. Tyrel Lomax – 6
Won the first scrum penalty of the game. Off in 55th minute.
4. Sam Whitelock – 8.5
Ripped the ball clean when the Springboks were on the attack in the 22 and then forced a turnover when the Springboks were back on attack towards the end of the half. He even chased up the ensuing kick from Richie Mo’unga to help set up the attacking platform that soon led to the All Blacks’ second try. Stole two Springboks line-outs. Pinged once for bad entry at the breakdown but a monumental effort all the same.
5. Scott Barrett – 7
Was a big player in the maul defence and crashed into the breakdown with regularity. Secure in the line-out and grabbed one steal. Scored the final try of the game to add some gloss to the score. One of his best performances in the black jersey.
6. Shannon Frizell – 6
Had a few hiccups in the first half – was pinged for incorrect entry at the maul and then mistimed a run off Aaron Smith which resulted in a knock on, but threw himself into every contact and delivered the most physical game of his Test career. Off in 60th minute.
7. Sam Cane – 6
Tackled his heart out, recording the biggest total of the match, and had more luck helping to retain his team’s ball at the breakdown than the week prior. Found himself on the end of a nice attacking move from the All Blacks to touch down on the right-hand side for his team’s first try. Off in 69th minute.
8. Ardie Savea – 8
Made a brilliant run down the left wing in the opening five minutes, stepping around and through multiple tacklers to set up a great attacking position for the All Blacks. Grabbed a crucial breakdown turnover when the Springboks were throwing wave after attacking wave at the tryline. Moved to the openside flank for the final 10.
9. Aaron Smith – 6
Didn’t have to deal with quite as scrappy ball as last week and was able to throw some sharp passes as a result. ‘Earned’ his side a penalty – and three points – when he was smashed by Jasper Wiese after the whistle had already been blown. Off in 69th minute.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 8
Found great distance with his clearing kicks and wasn’t afraid to pop some chip kicks over the Springboks’ defensive line either. Contributed 15 points off the tee and his accurate goal-kicking (seven from eight attempts) was crucial to maintaining pressure.
11. Caleb Clarke – 6.5
Scrambled well to get back and shut down a Springboks attacking kick. Lined up Lukhanyo Am when the Springboks midfielder was flying down the right wing but couldn’t bring him to ground, with Am eventually bounding over the line for South Africa’s first points. Just managed to get Am into touch when it looked like the South African dazzler was set to create another try. Made one great midfield bust – although almost ran away from his support. Off in 60th minute.
12. David Havili – 7
A nice cross-field kick set Ardie Savea away on his early run. Fended off Lukhanyo Am and drew in the South African winger but couldn’t find Rieko Ioane with his offload. Fluffed one clearing kick which gifted the Springboks some prime attacking ball, although they weren’t able to capitalise. Crashed over for what was really the match-deciding try.
13. Rieko Ioane – 8
Dropped one ball when the All Blacks were looking to launch a counter-attack and generally seemed to be out of sync with his midfield partner in the early stages of the match. Found his form late in the first half, however. Combined brilliantly with Will Jordan down the right flank to launch a counter at the beginning of the second quarter which ultimately resulted in the first three points of the match, and then unleashed Jordan again en route to the All Blacks’ first try. Made some nice chase-down tackles in the wider channels. Shifted to the left wing for the final part of the match and sparked the counter-attack that led to the All Blacks’ final try.
14. Will Jordan – 7.5
Showed off his exceptional pace and great linking ability down the left-hand touch on a run with Rieko Ioane and was then on the move again almost from the next play. Couldn’t quite escape the grasp of Eben Etzebeth but was able to draw and pass from the next set of phases to create a try for captain Cane. Off in 69th minute.
15. Jordie Barrett – 7.5
Wasn’t able to get his attacking game going but stood up on defence. Couldn’t take hold of the first high ball of the game but was safe as houses for the remainder of the match. The game would have been lost without his security at the back. Chased down Pieter-Steph du Toit to prevent a long-range try. Initially shifted to the left wing when his brother entered the game in the final quarter but largely resorted to fullback when the All Blacks went down to 14 men.
16. Codie Taylor – 5
On in 56th minute. Only made one error at the lineout and threw himself in the breakdown and mauls.
17. George Bower – 4
On in 52nd minute.
18. Fletcher Newell – 4
On for his debut in 55th minute.
19. Tupou Vaa’i – N/A
On in 78th minute.
20. Akira Ioane – 5.5
On in 60th minute. Sturdy off the bench but not game-changing.
21. Finlay Christie – N/A
On in 69th minute.
22. Beauden Barrett – 3
On in 60th minute. Was handed a yellow card for a pretty egregious tackle off the ball.
23. Quinn Tupaea – N/A
On in 69th minute. A relatively safe pair of hands.
By Tom Vinicombe, @RugbyPass