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Player Ratings: Australia

OPINION: The Wallabies have fallen painfully short of what would’ve been a drought-breaking win in New Zealand, going down to the All Blacks 23-20 in Dunedin.


With a vibrant crowd of more than 28,000 waiting in the stands on Saturday, both the All Blacks and Wallabies were met with deafening cheers as they made their way out onto the field.

For the second and final time in 2023, New Zealand rugby fans had an opportunity to see their heroes in action before they jet off to Europe. But the Wallabies were eager to shock the rugby world.

Following on from last weekend’s 31-point loss in Melbourne, the Wallabies shot out of the blocks with quick tries to Marika Koroibete and Tom Hooper inside the opening 10 minutes.

The Wallabies were in control. Not many people expected that, except for maybe Eddie Jones.

But the All Blacks fought their way back into the battle during a titanic second term and ended up winning the Test with an 80th-minute penalty goal from playmaker Richie Mo’unga.

Finn Morton rates the Wallabies players:


1 Angus Bell – 8

Prop Angus Bell was picked ahead of Test veteran James Slipper on the second week on the bounce. Bell, who was a shining light for the Wallabies a week ago, is quickly becoming one of the best loosehead props in the world.

Bell makes his money at the set-piece. Much like the likes of Tadhg Furlong and Ellis Genge, execution at the scrum is what separates the professionals from the elites. Bell won a scrum penalty during the first half, and contribute to an otherwise stable Wallabies pack.

The front row also got stuck in around the park, too. Bell, who was replaced about 15 minutes into the second term, finished with nine carries – which saw him beat four defenders as well.


2 David Porecki – N/A

David Porecki may have started the Test quite well, but the hooker wasn’t given an opportunity to sustain that for long enough to warrant a rating. Porecki, who made four tackles and carried the ball once, left the field in the 14th minute for an HIA and didn’t return.

3 Pone Fa’amausili – 7

Following the simply disastrous injuries to Allan Alaalatoa and Taniela Tupou a week ago, Melbourne Rebels enforcer Pone Fa’amausili was thrust into the Wallabies’ starting side. Starting at tighthead prop, Fa’amausili won the first scrum penalty of the Test less than five minutes into the contest. That helped set the tone for the Wallabies.

Fa’amausili was also held up over the try line in the 22nd – if he had scored, the Test might’ve already gotten away from the All Blacks. The prop was solid around the park, but was certainly at his best around the set-piece.

4 Nick Frost – 7.5

Lock Nick Frost put in a massive 80-minute shift at Forsyth Barr Stadium – that can’t be omitted from this summary. Frost was a general at the lineout, and worked tirelessly around the field too. With 11 tackles and more than 30 running metres, Eddie Jones and the Wallabies should be very pleased with the performance from their No. 4.

5 Richie Arnold – 5

This rating might seem a bit harsh, or maybe you agree, but from what I saw Richie Arnold just failed to impress. Arnold, who stands about as tall as the Statue of Liberty it would seem, seemed to go missing for extended periods of the Test. Teammate Nick Frost was the go-to option at the lineout, and other forwards controlled the breakdown battle.

6 Tom Hooper – 8

Tom Hooper was back in the No.6 jersey for the first time since his tough debut against South Africa in Pretoria last month – the young loosie was replaced after 30 minutes with an injury. But Hooper made amends last weekend against the All Blacks, and backed that up with another promising outing in Dunedin.

Inside the opening 10 minutes of the Test, Hooper helped the visitors set the tone for the half with a bulldozing score down the left wing. Hooper ran over – or maybe ‘through’ is a better descriptor – Damian McKenzie in the eighth minute. By half-time, the blindside had run the ball seven times.

With the game in the balance – the All Blacks were leading 20-17 with less than 10 minutes to play – Hooper put his body on the line to win a pivotal penalty at the breakdown. Quade Cooper stepped up and nailed the kick to level the scores.

7 Fraser McReight – 6

To the surprise of many, Fraser McReight was omitted from the matchday squad to take on the New Zealanders at the ‘G last weekend. But the Queenslander was back in Wallaby gold on Saturday and did an admirable job against a physical All Blacks pack.

Compared to some of his teammates, McReight was kept relatively quiet during the opening term. The openside ran the ball a few times and made some solid stops on the defensive side of the ball. But McReight’s speciality is the breakdown, and the former Junior Wallabies skipper made his mark by catching Damian McKenzie out for not releasing just before the break.

It was a similar story after the interval for McReight. The flank made six stops in defence and only ran the ball three times. McReight was replaced by Rob Leota in the 59th minute.

8 Rob Valetini – 8

Is there a better way to describe Rob Valetini than world-class? Certainly, during a dominant first half from the visitors, the rampaging backrower was just that. Valetini had made the second-most tackles and had the second-most carries out of any Wallaby by the half-time break.

This trend continued into the second term with Valetini ultimately finishing with the second-most carries (11) and the most tackles out of any Wallaby with 15. An exceptional shift from the backrow on a mixed night for the Australians.

9 Tate McDermott – 7.5

At just 24 years of age, Tate McDermott became the 86th captain of the Wallabies when he led his team into battle onto the field. McDermott was ready, and so were the Wallabies.

Once the Test got underway, McDermott played a key role in the Wallabies’ phase play. The No.9 looked cool, calm and collected – refusing to overplay his hand as the Australians began to play with some momentum. McDermott’s passing was quick and accurate, although his running game was somewhat absent, and this theme continued throughout most of the Test.

10 Carter Gordon – 7.5

Young playmaker Carter Gordon came under fire following the Wallabies’ disastrous loss in Melbourne. Gordon, who is only 22, failed to fire in front of almost 84,000 fans. The flyhalf was unfairly criticised though, considering it was his first start in the No. 10 jersey at Test level.

Gordon proved any and all naysayers wrong with an improved performance at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Especially in the first quarter of the Test, the Wallabies looked like world-beaters – and Gordon, in the 10 jersey, was leading their attack. Gordon was reliable off the kicking tee, and had some solid involvements around the park as well.

But in the second half, as the Test got away from the Wallabies, Gordon was unable to replicable any heroics from earlier. There were glimpse of promise, sure, but it wasn’t the same. Gordon was replaced in the 65th minute by Quade Cooper.

11 Marika Koroibete – 7

Wing Marika Koroibete is usually one of the best players in a gold jersey whenever the Wallabies enter the fray of Test rugby. So, when the full-time siren sang at the ‘G last Saturday, that was one of the big talking points – the flyer had a quiet night, and was clearly outplayed by opposite Mark Telea.

Koroibete needed to bounce back, and the speedster certainly made a statement inside the opening few minutes. Somehow, Koroibete managed to stay within the field of play as he dived desperately for the try-line. The replays showed – almost beyond belief – that the winger had stayed mere millimetres away from the sideline. Koroibete showed an elite standard of pace, strength and timing to score.

But that’s as good as it got. The ball didn’t really come Koroibete’s way again, at least not in a try-scoring position. It was an improved outing from the world-class wing – there were some positive moments, although they weren’t highlights – but it was far from his best.

12 Samu Kerevi – 8

Every time Samu Kerevi touched the ball – and I speak for everyone in attendance at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and presumably those watching TV – the Wallaby looked like wreaking havoc. The Wallabies were playing with plenty of momentum and front-foot ball during the first quarter of the Test, and a lot of that has to come back to Kerevi’s impact in attack.

This didn’t stop after 20 minutes, either. Even in the second half, when the All Blacks began to take control, Kerevi was still popping up with some incredibly crucial carries. The midfielder will, of course, play a key role for the Wallabies at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

13 Jordan Petaia – 7

Last weekend in Melbourne, Jordan Petaia showed glimpses of brilliance after returning to the Wallabies’ No. 13 jersey. It was much the same story in Dunedin. In the absence of the Wallabies first-choice outside centre, Len Ikitau, Petaia has stepped up and filled that void with both class and skill.

Petaia did miss a couple of tackles, and still has some learning to do. But if we focus on the positives, the Queenslander caused some headaches in attack, and made some solid stops on the other side of the ball.

14 Mark Nawaqanitawase – 7

The man known as Marky Mark was good without being great. As a wing, the ball doesn’t quite come your way sometimes – but Nawaqanitawase certainly went searching for it. There were a handful of occasions where the No. 14 was seen getting busy in the middle of the park.

15 Andrew Kellaway – 7.5

Andrew Kellaway is the Wallabies’ answer at fullback. If there was any doubt as to who should start out the back for Eddie Jones’ team – following the departure of Tom Wright, that is – then that has been answered. Kellaway made some positive contributions tonight, and still has plenty of growth and development left in his game.

The fullback finished with the most running metres out of any Wallaby with 102 from nine runs, and he also beat a couple of defenders and made two line breaks.


16 Matt Faessler – 7
Faessler made his Test debut for the Wallabies this afternoon and put in a solid shift after coming on early.

17 James Slipper – 7

18 Zane Nonggorr – 6

19 Will Skelton – 7.5

20 Rob Leota – 5

21 Nic White – 5

22 Quade Cooper – 6
Clutch penalty goal with less than 10 minutes to play.

22 Izaia Perese – N/A

By Finn Morton, Rugbypass

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