Player Ratings: Fall of the empire
OPINION: The All Blacks have finished their 2021 international season with another loss, going down to France 40-25 at Stade de France in Paris. It was also their second loss in as many Tests after going down to Ireland last weekend.
France got off to a great start, scoring their first try just two and a half minutes into the contest. Their aggression in attack allowed them to control the opening half, leading 24-6 at the break.
The All Blacks did manage to fight their way back in the second-half, with tries from Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane and Ardie Savea seeing them trail by just two with 20 minutes to play.
But a yellow card to Savea and an intercept try proved to be the difference, with the All Blacks unable to do enough on the night with France worth all of their 15 point winning margin.
It’s an interesting result between two rivals, with France set to host the All Blacks at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Finn Morton rated the New Zealand players
1. Joe Moody – 6.5/10
There weren’t a lot of scrums in this Test, certainly while Moody was on the park, so it’s somewhat hard to comment on the 33-year-olds strong efforts at the set-piece. While he didn’t have a carry in the first-half, the prop had made the equal most tackles of any All Black at the break with eight. A solid shift from Moody.
2. Dane Coles – 7
As he often is, Coles was one of the best on ground for the All Blacks. The 34-year-old was consistent throwing into the lineout, hitting all six of his targets. Except for Ardie Savea, Coles had the most carries of any All Blacks forward, running the ball six times for 18 metres. On the other side of the ball, he also made four tackles and won one turnover.
3. Nepo Laulala – 6
While there weren’t too many scrums, the All Blacks arguably had the advantage over the French forwards in this battle, and Laulala deserves a mention for that. He otherwise seemed to struggle to get involved, finishing with four carries and three tackles on the night.
4. Brodie Retallick – 7
Retallick was impressive despite the result. He put plenty of pressure on the French lineout throughout the Test, notably winning two lineouts against the throw in the first-half. He made the most tackles of any All Black with nine, and was a target at the lineout four times.
5. Sam Whitelock – 6.5
Named as the captain for this Test in Paris, Whitelock seemed to struggle to make an impact. He was only looked to as a target at the lineout once, and otherwise had four runs and made two tackles. It was Whitelock who helped the All Blacks turnover the ball in the leadup to the Reiko Ioane try.
6. Akira Ioane – 6.5
Ioane had a quiet start to the Test but had some good moments as the Test went on. Notably, Ioane was looked to as one of the leading options at the line-out, targeted the second-most of any New Zealand player. With 5 runs for 15 metres, Ioane did have an impact when he got his hands on the ball.
7. Sam Cane – 5.5
I think it’s fair to say that this wasn’t Cane’s best Test in an All Blacks jersey. The flank didn’t have a carry in the first-half, and only had two in the second. Those carries both came early in the second in the leadup to the Jordie Barrett try. Cane was putting his head in and around the breakdown throughout the Test and managed to secure two turnovers. One came in the 68th minute in what was a crucial stage in the Test, but his efforts went unrewarded for the All Blacks, with France scoring through an intercept almost immediately after.
8. Ardie Savea – 7.5
Very early on in the Test, Savea made a trademark run from the backrow. After Dane Coles gathered an overthrow, Savea got the ball around halfway, but managed to fight his way close to the French 22 as only he can. But the second-half overall was arguably an improved showing from Savea. Most notably he crossed for a try just short of the hour mark, with his leg drive and desire getting him to the try-line. A yellow card shortly after though was a massive turning point in this Test.
9. Aaron Smith – 6.5
The All Blacks largely benefited from Smith’s return to the matchday squad, but that’s not to say he was anything close to perfect. While some passes were accurate and fast, others weren’t and led to errors. Smith had a try assist in the 47th minute, with a flat and quick cut-out pass to Jordie Barrett sending the fullback over for a try.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 6.5
Mo’unga arguably didn’t have the impact that was needed from an All Blacks flyhalf in such a tight test. A missed tackle on his opposite 15-minutes in saw Romain Ntamack cross for their second try.
11. George Bridge – 7
There was a period in the first-half where Bridge was the best player for the All Blacks. After some opportunities after receiving the kick-off, it seemed to build his confidence and the visitors benefited. He finished with seven runs for 21 metres.
12. Quinn Tupaea – 7.5
Tupaea ran the ball well and held his own in defence in the Test against France. The 22-year-old had 7 runs for 29 metres, and he also beat one defender in this match. Rieko Ioane may have not scored his try in the second-half had it not have been for Tupaea’s work in the leadup, straightening up the attack to allow for his centre partner to run through a gap on his way for the score.
13. Rieko Ioane – 8
The All Blacks best player. Ioane was fantastic in attack, having had 12 carries on the night which was the most of any player from either team. His biggest highlight was by far his try with just under 30-minutes to play, slicing through the French defensive line from nearly 60-metres out. On the other side of the ball, Ioane also had a try saving effort in the 27th minute, getting between Melvyn Jaminet to stop the fullback from potentially gathering the ball.
14. Will Jordan – 5.5
An uncharacteristically quiet Test from Will Jordan who struggled to make an impact. While he made a clever yet short burst through the heart of the French defensive line 15-minutes in, he otherwise seemed to go missing.
15. Jordie Barrett – 7
Once again, Barrett was a good off the kicking team although he wasn’t perfect. The fullback scored a try in the 47th minute, with an Aaron Smith pass helping him score from mere metres out. Barrett finished the night with 15-points, and ran for 20 metres from seven runs.
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 7
Was one of the All Blacks’ most impactful players despite coming off the bench.
17. George Bower – 6
18. Ofa Tuungafasi – 6
19. Tupou Vaa’i – 6
20. Shannon Frizell – 6.5
21. Brad Weber – 6.5
22. Damian McKenzie – 5.5
Struggled to have an impact. Finished with negative metres from two carries.
23. David Havili – 6.5
Run runs for 22 metres. A moment to forget in a crucial moment in the Test, throwing an intercept which proved to be a telling moment.
By Finn Morton, Rugbypass