International rugby made a welcome return as the All Blacks took on Australia in Wellington. It was the first of four Bledisloe Cup clashes for 2020.
Both teams had some interesting selections with the long view at the start of the next World Cup cycle; four debutantes for Australia, three on the New Zealand bench.
Australia had a surfeit of possession all match and stormed back well in the second half to snatch the lead with minutes to go but sadly for them the All Blacks managed to peg it back for a 16 all draw.
Here’re the All Black player ratings.
1. Joe Moody – 7
Solid performance at the scrum and busy day in defence with 13 tackles. Off at 57.
2. Codie Taylor – 7
Missed first up tackle early on O’Connor but his skills came to the fore with a sweet inside pass that set up a try for Smith. Off at 57.
3. Ofa Tuungafasi – 7.5
Continued his great 2020 with bossing performance on defence. 15 tackles and a great turnover at 59 minutes after a cluster of hits. Off at 63.
4. Patrick Tuipulotu – 6.5
Was the major source of line out ball in the first half. Conceded a penalty with a no arms tackle on Hooper in the 28th minute. Needs to assert himself more with ball in hand next week. Off at 74.
5. Sam Whitelock – 6.5
Good to have the grizzled performer on the field. Both locks will have to work on the tackle area though as the Aussie tall timber was impressive in the front lines.
6. Shannon Frizell – 6.5
Had a first up fumble but snatched a great lineout steal at 8 minutes. Awesome last pass to Jordie Barrett for the first try. The All Blacks will look to be more offensive at the collision so he should be safe unless the selectors throw Grace into the mix. Off at 63.
7. Sam Cane – 8
Proudly led from the front with a match-high 23 tackles. Penalised in front of the posts after 29 minutes with no release in the tackle but redemption 5 minutes later with a breakdown penalty 3 metres out. Looked disappointed post-match but now the All Blacks know the benchmark is higher than they thought in the Bledisloe world.
8. Ardie Savea – 7.5
Big start with aggressive first up tackles then a turnover after two minutes. Nice runs from a free-kick and an exit play around the 18-19 minute mark. Just loves getting the ball in his hands and has returned to full fitness and dynamism.
9. Aaron Smith – 8
Even though Nic White was probably man of the match Nugget was in his pomp with some accurate box kicks testing Banks in the swirling breeze and solid clearances. Tremendous finish for his try in the 44th minute. Off at 68.
What a start to the second half! A set piece play executed to perfection and finished off by @Te_Nug.
Flick over to @skysportnz for a massive second half RN!
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 11, 2020
10. Richie Mo’unga – 6.5
Looked like the Wallabies were trying to soften him up when the chance arose. To’omua tenderised his ribs in the 14th minute and then a slightly late one from Wilson. In the first half he kicked well to space behind right-wing but misdirected a punt into dead ball area in 38th minute off a penalty. Positioned himself in the pocket for the chance of a dropped goal for a short time at the end but TJ didn’t look on the same page. Has opened the door for Beaudy at 10.
11. George Bridge – 6
Quiet day at the office for Bridge where he had his hands full with his opposite Filipo Daugunu. After Caleb Clarke’s enthusiasm off the bench he may get a rest next week.
12. Jack Goodhue – 6.5
Could be called Jack Good-glue with his solidity and decision making. 14 great tackles.
13. Rieko Ioane – 6
A frustrating day for the talented Blues player. He ran straight and hard all day and made good decisions with ball in hand although didn’t get a chance to show his distribution chops. Was lucky his foot in touch for the first try was missed, and then the NBA dribble as he went for the try grounding just before halftime. Hooked at 56 minutes as the television team fingered him for a defensive error that led to Koroibete’s try.
14. Jordie Barrett – 6.5
Big strong player but there is a suspicion that he lacks the raw pace for a wing against top opposition. In the 7th minute, he was caught by a lock on an outside break. His try was finished but Koroibete was tracking him down quickly. In a day where place kicking was difficult, he punched the ball hard finishing 2 from 5 attempts but all the misses were close. Perhaps he will get a chance at 15 next week.
15. Damian MacKenzie – 7
Great try saving turnover early, unlocked the Aussie defence for the first try after fielding a kick in the backfield. In the 2nd half he did very well under the high ball, emulating his opposite Tom Banks’ work from the first half. Then sadly his clever flick in a breakdown led to Daugunu’s try that levelled the score 13 all. Off at 68.
16. Dane Coles – 7
On at 57 and looked amped as he worked hard like a demonic dodgem car. He may very well get a start next week as he looked reasonably free of injury.
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe – 6.5
Looking trim and got involved. Seemed to be unfairly penalised at a tackle late.
18. Tyrel Lomax – 6.5
On at 63 and did well.
19. Tupou Vaa’i – 6
Rolled up his sleeves when he came on in the 75th minute but was incredibly lucky he wasn’t penalised for diving on a ball that was in the side of the ruck from an offside position. That would have lost the game for the All Blacks.
20. Hoskins Sotutu – 7.5
On at 63 and showed some sharp touches and 6 tackles to his name. Showed he is a genuine test match material.
21. TJ Perenara – 6
On at 63. There will be some debriefing on what the plan was in the last 4 minutes as the All Blacks laid siege to the Aussie line. A dropped goal didn’t seem to be an option which is remarkable.
22. Anton Lienert-Brown – 6.5
On at 56 but found it hard to make his mark on the game. Will probably get a chance next week though.
23. Caleb Clarke – 8
On at 68 and resembled a hungry bowling ball looking for skittles to munch. Odds-on for a start at the Garden of Eden.
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