Player Ratings: Back With vengeance
OPINION: The All Blacks have capped their 2018 season with an emphatic 10-try 66-3 victory over the Azzurri in Rome.
Sam Warlow rates the New Zealand Players
1. Ofa Tuungafasi – 6.5
A little patchy with ball in hand but did some fine work in the scrum, forcing his opposite Simone Ferrari to concede a penalty and applying pressure every time the sides packed down.
2. Dane Coles – 8.5
Dane Coles was back to his attacking best against Italy. Made an immediate impact by sidestepping Italian wing Luca Sperandio and finding a pair of looping teammates to set up the opening try. Showed other impressive flashes as a carrier and was close to impeccable at lineout time.
4. Patrick Tuipulotu – 7.5
Got through plenty of work in a busy 80-minute shift. Hands let him down a couple of times but otherwise an incredibly reliable metre maker. Finished with 53 metres, five defenders beaten and a try assist but also conceded three turnovers.
5. Scott Barrett – 6.5
A relatively quiet shift from a player that has made a big impact of late. Made six tackles and was handy in the lineout. Didn’t get much ball and was penalised early to surrender Italy’s sole three points.
6. Vaea Fifita – 9
Arguably the All Blacks’ most impactful forward. Devastating with ball in hand, athletic freak Fifita turned five carries into 60 metres, beating three defenders and making a line break. He also finished as the All Blacks’ top tackler, making 11 without a miss. An impressive performance and nice finish to the year for a player that has had a tough season.
7. Ardie Savea – 7
A typical pest at the breakdown. Counter rucking put pressure on the Italians and he managed to eventually snaffle a turnover. Less impact on attack in a short 47-minute shift.
8. Kieran Read – 8
Finished with eight tackles, missing on two occasions. Excellent in the lineout. Showed great skill and hands in lead up to two tries, notched one try assist to Ngani Laumape and put Patrick Tuipulotu through a hole to set up one of Damian McKenzie’s tries. Lowlight was getting manhandled by Italian flanker Jake Polledri.
9. TJ Perenara – 8
Great support running to pick up a try, had another taken away after a forward pass. Delivered lightning quick service all night and made his tackles.
10. Beauden Barrett – 9
Beauden Barrett was excellent in pulling the strings for the All Blacks against Italy. Scored a try after picking off an overthrown lineout near halfway and taking it to the house. Set up two more with a perfectly weighted grubber for Damian McKenzie and a cross-field kick for brother Jordie. Loses marks for a few errant passes. Accurate off the tee.
11. Waisake Naholo – 7
Didn’t see much ball come his way but made the most of his opportunities and went looking for work. Was largely untested defensively.
13. Anton Lienert Brown – 8
Reliable with ball in hand, often able to straighten play and make metres. Finished with 83 run metres and a clean break, and kept the ball alive constantly with a game-high five offloads. Made all five of his tackle attempts.
14. Jordie Barrett – 9
Might be in for a few more shifts on the wing after bagging four tries. Showed off an array of skills in doing so. Most impressive may have been claiming his brother’s cross-field kick on the stroke of halftime. Finished with a game-high 138 run metres – Italy notchd 161 as a team -with six defenders beaten and three line breaks. Also set up and try and offloaded three times.
15. Damian McKenzie – 9
McKenzie flourished and helped open up the game from fullback. Outrun only by Barrett with 136 metres, McKenzie scored three tries and made two line breaks with five defenders beaten. Simply made things happen for the All Blacks. A good note to end his campaign.
Brodie Retallick wasted no time in breaking the line after replacing Scott Barrett. Young loose forward Dalton Papalii came on and made an impact defensively, making five tackles and winning two turnovers.
Richie Mo’unga threatened the Italian line and showed flashes of some fine tactical kicking as well as setting up a try.
By Sam Warlow, Rugbypass