Player Ratings: The great escape
OPINION: It was a true 80-minute encounter in Melbourne on Thursday with the All Blacks claiming a last-minute 39-37 win over the Wallabies.
While the All Blacks were able to establish a sizeable lead early in the second half, the Wallabies came back strong to win the final quarter 24-7.
That wasn’t enough for the home team to secure a win, however, with Jordie Barrett tumbling over the line with the final play of the game to secure the Bledisloe Cup for another year.
How did the All Blacks rate in the victory?
1. Ethan de Groot – 4/10
Pinged once at scrum time and was monstered at another – as was the rest of the All Blacks pack. Didn’t offer anything in the open field and wasn’t able to make much of an impact at the breakdown. A good lesson for the youngster against some wilier, more experienced operators. Off in 54th minute.
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 8
Grabbed an early try off the back of a rolling maul then almost earned another in similar circumstances shortly before halftime but lost the ball over the line. Did eventually grab his second try with a nice finish down the left tramline but probably should have still given the ball to the unmarked men outside him. Helped force a breakdown penalty in the third quarter. Couldn’t prevent Bernard Foley from getting his hands free to release Andrew Kellaway for a try and departed the fray seconds later. The All Blacks’ biggest metre-eater in the forwards and nailed all 10 lineout throws. Off in 62d minute.
3. Tyrel Lomax – 4
Earned a penalty against the head at the first scrum. Was caught out once at the breakdown when he needed to help secure NZ ball but couldn’t prevent a turnover. Was lucky to avoid a yellow card after a dicey maul clean-out on Folau Fainga’a and was subbed off immediately. Off in 58th minute.
4. Brodie Retallick – 8
Happily trucked the ball up throughout the match, stepping up in his first start after returning from injury and in the absence of Ardie Savea. Threw himself into the breakdown. Smartly delivered the ball to the wider channels in the build-up to the All Blacks’ third try.
5. Sam Whitelock – 7
Carried when needed and led the team around the park for three-quarters of the match. Contributed to a big counter-ruck shortly after halftime that directly lead to an All Blacks try seconds later. Pinged for some illegal movement at the lineout which handed the Wallabies a five-metre set-up – which they scored from.
6. Scott Barrett – 7.5
Industrious on defence, especially when the Wallabies were pounding away at the line in the first half, finishing as the All Blacks’ busiest tackler on the night. Grabbed one lineout steal and general acclimatised well to the blindside flanker role. Certainly worth another look.
7. Sam Cane – N/A
Showed some good hands in the formative stages of the match but wasn’t able to get stuck into the tight work. Left the field in the 24th minute and failed his HIA – seemingly as a result of an earlier head clash with David Havili.
8. Hoskins Sotutu – 7
Showed soft hands in his first Test match of the year – including sending Caleb Clarke away on a great run down the field. Slotted seamlessly into the lineout. Worked with Whitelock to push the Wallabies off the ball for a second-half turnover that resulted in Taukei’aho’s second try. His major blunder came shortly after, kicking the ball away when the All Blacks were hot on attack and he had plenty of men in support. Off in 69th minute.
9. Aaron Smith – 7.5
Buzzed around the park – was always on hand when the ball popped out of the ruck and helped keep the All Blacks’ attack ticking. Off in 75th minute.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 7
Bided his time throughout the match, primarily playing a distributor role but occasionally showing off his dancing feet. Stepped his way around Bernard Foley to grab a well-taken try. Sent one kick-off out on the full but crucially nailed five of his six attempts on goal.
11. Caleb Clarke – 6
Grabbed hold of one Havili chip early but then threw a bullet pass to the kicker which was shelled. Made an excellent break off the shoulder of Hoskins Sotutu and fought his way from one 22 to the other but wasn’t able to link up with any support. A similar event unfolded at the end of the third quarter off a cross-field kick.
12. David Havili – N/A
Tested the Wallabies early with a chip into the 22 – persisting with a tactic that worked reasonably well against Argentina in Hamilton. Left the field in the 14th minute after failing an HIA following some friendly fire from Sam Cane.
13. Rieko Ioane – 7
Pinged for an illegal steal attempt when the All Blacks were under the pump. Made a brilliant try-saving tackle on Andrew Kellaway at the beginning of the second quarter when a score looked all but guaranteed. Probably cost his side a try of their own towards halftime, delivering a poor pass to Beauden Barrett when the All Blacks had an overlap. Broke out from within the NZ 22 early in the second spell but was soon penalised for a marginally high tackle. Wasn’t able to get himself into a good supporting position when Clarke made a break at the end of the third quarter.
14. Will Jordan – 7.5
Forced a breakdown penalty after getting over the ball – but definitely had some hands on the ground in the lead-up. Was lost at sea under one high ball at the end of the first quarter that the Wallabies turned into an attacking opportunity. Made a good tackle on Marika Koroibete from which the All Blacks eventually secured a penalty. His best play came around the 55-minute mark, where he secured a high ball for NZ and then ran onto a Beauden Barrett chip and weaved through the Australian defence to grab his first try of the Rugby Championship. Couldn’t bring Pete Samu to ground when he made a break out wide en route to his try. Drew in two defenders and offloaded for the final try of the match.
15. Jordie Barrett – 7
Ran hard into the defensive line but turned over the ball after heading into a tackle with too upright a frame. Put in an expertly placed cross-field kick to set up a run for Clarke. Shifted to the midfield shortly before halftime after both Havili and Quinn Tupaea were scratched out. Fought his way over the line for the match-winning try.
16. Dane Coles – N/A
2/2 lineout. On in 62nd minute.
17. George Bower – 7
On in 54th minute. Generated some momentum on the carry and the scrum didn’t seem to have the first-half yips upon his arrival.
18. Fletcher Newell – 5
On in 58th minute. Copped one penalty for an early push at the set-piece and wasn’t able to impose himself when he entered the breakdown.
19. Akira Ioane – N/A
On in 69th minute. Carried strongly.
20. Dalton Papali’i – 6
On in 24th minute as (initially) a temporary replacement for Sam Cane then was promptly sent to the sin bin for collapsing a maul. Was secure off the pine and stepped in well for what was a long shift but struggled to impose himself.
21. Finlay Christie – N/A
On in 75th minute.
22. Beauden Barrett – 6
On in 36th minute. Put through a well-placed chip to set up a try for Jordan but didn’t look quite as confident in the fullback jersey as we’ve seen in the past.
23. Quinn Tupaea – N/A
On in 14th minute. Snared a breakdown penalty when the Wallabies were metres away from a score. Went off injured in the 36th minute after a diabolical clear-out attempt from Darcy Swain.