Player Ratings: One hand on the Trophy
OPINION: Following a controversial finish in Melbourne, the All Blacks and Wallabies both entered their Eden Park rematch with a point to prove.
For the home team, the result last week may have ended in their favour, with the 39-37 win securing them the Bledisloe Cup for another year, but they also played poorly for significant spells in the match and ceded a 17-point lead at one stage of the contest.
On the hallowed turf of Eden Park, the All Blacks were looking to prove they’ve stepped up their game in recent times despite last week’s shakey victory and extend their 22-game winning streak over the Wallabies in Auckland – and that’s exactly what they did.
Will Jordan was the first to score for NZ, before Sam Whitelock, Codie Taylor and Samisoni Taukei’aho all added five-pointers of their own (to go with one team effort penalty try), and while the Wallabies score two in the final quarter, it was too little, too late.
Come to the final whistle, the All Blacks had earned themselves a confident 40-14 victory in what was one of their best performances of the season.
Tom Vinicombe rates the New Zealand players!
1. Ethan de Groot – 7
Strong at the set-piece and did some good work on defence, making nine tackles. Missed his first attempt of the game on Jed Holloway, giving the Wallabies some significant territory to work with. Helped earn his pack penalties at the first two scrums (although the Wallabies were down to seven forwards at the time) but then gave up one of his own for illegal entry at the breakdown. Was free-kicked at the lineout shortly before halftime and was probably lucky not to be punished for a late tackle just before he left the field. Off in the 57th minute.
2. Codie Taylor – 6
A better showing from the veteran hooker. Had a couple of issues at the lineout but was generally reliable. Copped one penalty for not rolling away at the breakdown. Sparked a nice attack with a good run down the left-hand flank off some disrupted ball and was rewarded with a try off the back of a rolling maul. Off in the 57th minute.
3. Tyrel Lomax – 7
Showed good hands inside the All Blacks 22 to offload the ball to the dangermen outside him and generally got himself more involved on attack with his carrying game. Earned one penalty in the second half. Off in the 57th minute.
4. Brodie Retallick – 7.5
A key metre-eater, particularly in the formative stages of the fixture. Snagged a maul turnover when the Wallabies were looking to launch an attack and threw himself into every ruck, maul and lineout. Pinged for shepherding.
5. Sam Whitelock – 6
One of his ‘off’ games, but finished much stronger than he started. Offered next to nothing with ball in hand until he managed to fight his way over the line and somehow – almost impossibly – ground it for the All Blacks’ first try of the second half. Forced one breakdown turnover when the Wallabies were looking likely.
6. Akira Ioane – 6
Was rather anonymous in the first half, making a good number of tackles but struggling to get his running game going. Earned a breakdown penalty in the second half, with the All Blacks scoring from the ensuing maul. 1/1 lineout. Off in 70th minute.
7. Dalton Papali’i – 6
Made a monstrous number of tackles, as is typical of a man wearing the No 7 jersey for the All Blacks, but didn’t stamp his mark on the position in the way he would have wanted.
8. Ardie Savea – 7
It was an unusually quiet night for Savea compared to his usual lofty standards, especially with the ball in hand. Stole the ball from an offside position and was rightly penalised.
9. Aaron Smith – 5
Generally did his job but didn’t stand out. Pinged once for not rolling away at the breakdown. Ran a nice support line off Will Jordan to keep a scoring chance alive. Off in 57th minute.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 6
Kept the scoreboard ticking over and guided his team around the park well but didn’t offer much of a running game. Did well to prevent Bernard Foley from racing away for an intercept try.
11. Caleb Clarke – 5
Collected a couple of high balls in traffic but otherwise struggled to get involved in the first half. Made one nice run in the second but it was generally a quiet outing.
12. Jordie Barrett – 7.5
Offered a big body in the All Blacks midfield and willingly carted up the ball. Shifted to fullback late in the piece but it was a confident first start in the No 12 jersey for the youngest Barrett and worth persisting with.
13. Rieko Ioane – 6
Sparked a couple of nice counter-attacks but probably cost his team a try when he failed to find his supporting runner.
14. Will Jordan – 8.5
Looked dangerous with his first couple of carries and then slipped around his defender to score a very well-taken try at the beginning of the second quarter. Made another dangerous run with a few minutes left in the first spell but the All Blacks couldn’t capitalise. Off in 68th minute.
15. Beauden Barrett – 7
Made a brilliant run in the outer channels early in the match which resulted in a five-metre attacking scrum and slotted into the line when the situation demanded it. Might have convinced the selectors that the dual playmaker experiment is worth revisiting. Saw less ball in the second half. Off in 70th minute.
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 6
On in 57th minute. 2/2 lineout. Grabbed what’s now becoming a customary try.
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 5
On in the 57th minute. Carted the ball up on a few occasions and kept the scrum steady.
18. Nepo Laulala – 5
On in the 57th minute. Won a penalty at the first scrum and made a handful of tackles.
19. Tupou Vaa’i – N/A
On in 66th minute.
20. Hoskins Sotutu – N/A
On in 70th minute. Pinged for some illegal breakdown work.
21. Finlay Christie – 5
On in 57th minute. Was a bit circumspect at times, eventually conceding a penalty after getting trapped at the back of a scrum.
22. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – N/A
On in 70th minute.
23. Sevu Reece – 7
On in 68th minute. Added a nice spark off the bench. Luckily avoided any punishment for a head clash. Stole the ball from under the Wallabies’ noses when they were hot on attack.
By Tom Vinicombe, Rugbypass