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All Blacks player ratings vs Australia | Bledisloe Cup

By Ned Lester
Will Jordan in action for the All Blacks. Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images

The first Bledisloe match of the year has graced our eyes with the All Blacks prevailing in Melbourne in front of 84,000 fans.

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Stoic defence from the Wallabies was let down by some yellow cards and the All Blacks were persistent in their attack, punishing any Wallaby lapses.

The All Blacks’ physicality wasn’t as convincing as it has been in previous weeks but the team fronted up when needed, proving they can win in more ways than just hanging onto leads from a fast starts.

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There was another late burst of scoring from the Kiwi side which pushed the lead to a more convincing tally, no doubt pleasing Ian Foster and co after previous weeks’ performances had raised questions over the quality of the side’s bench.

The 38-7 victory sees the All Blacks win both The Rugby Championship and retain the Bledisloe Cup in a less controversial style than last year’s effort.

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Here’s how the All Blacks rated:

1. Ethan de Groot – 8

The prop had his hands full defending a rampaging Angus Bell who was out to prove a point early. With a lack of scrums to show his chops, de Groot settled for being the second-best defender in a black jersey, lending his shoulder to some heavy contact and clinging on around the ankles in multiple effort plays around the breakdown.

2. Codie Taylor – 8

The Australians were active in their contests at lineout but Taylor’s throwing was up to the challenge, providing his forwards with the platform to get their rolling maul humming early. Taylor is at his best when he’s opportunistic in his carries around the ruck and looked for those holes tonight. Defensively, he was one of the All Blacks’ most active tacklers with a 100% success rate.

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3. Tyrel Lomax – 7

Lomax had limited opportunities to ply his trade at scrum time but won a penalty when he did pack down to start the second half. Eight tackles is a fair reflection of his participation on that side of the ball, not operating in the high-traffic areas but executing when the ball came his way. Quiet in the carry.

4. Brodie Retallick – 7

Retallick is a master in the subtle art of the ball carry, diving forwards into mini gaps to avoid the heavy contact and get his team on the front foot. After an active start with the ball, Retallick’s influence in that area was more subdued as the game wore on but his execution around the ruck remained world-class. 15 tackles on the night makes for an impressive tally but three misses equals a team-high and sees the big man feature in a few too many Wallabies highlights.

5. Scott Barrett – 9.5

This guy had a night for the ages. He couldn’t have asked for a better start to the match, nailing Tate McDermott in a hard tackle that lay the ball on a platter for Shannon Frizzel to score. The lock was consistently winning the collision all night on both sides of the ball and was unrelenting for the full 80 minutes. 16 carries, 42 metres run, four defenders beaten and 11 tackles without a miss. An unreal shift. Expect a big World Cup from the Crusaders captain.

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6. Shannon Frizell – 7

The Wallabies’ physicality looked far more impressive this week and while the All Blacks’ work around the breakdown was strong in the first few phases of attack, beyond that they were caught out early. As the match wore on, Frizell’s involvement picked up and the All Blacks’ phase play looked far better for it. The big blindside’s footwork didn’t feature so much in the carry this week and he struggled to find the outside shoulder to make post-contact metres.

7. Dalton Papali’i – 7.5

The breakdown was far less secure to start the match which didn’t reflect so well on Papali’i given Sam Cane’s work in that area against South Africa. Papali’i’s skills came into their own as a facilitator down the blindside as the All Blacks chewed through ground with some slick passing. The flanker’s physicality didn’t feature so often on defence in the first half as he was stationed wider than the first pod but his relentless wrestling in the rolling maul was impressive throughout.

The Blues skipper’s work on defence and around the breakdown picked up as the game wore on, finding some dominant hits en route to leading his side in tackles made with 25.

8. Ardie Savea (c) – 8

In the face of a big Australian loose forward trio, Savea’s stature looked undersized but that has never stopped the inspirational captain before and he again found ways to get his legs pumping in contact, charging upfield for his side. You can never question the heart Savea plays with and he led from the front tonight.

After 150 first-half tackles, the Wallabies started to falter ever so slightly to end the first period and Savea’s side was rewarded for the persistence shown. The captain has an incredible ability to win turnovers at the breakdown when his side’s back is against the line and did it again tonight. 19 carries on the night led the match.

9. Aaron Smith – 8

A very rare bad pass disrupted the All Blacks’ fast start but a quick-thinking kick just a minute later made amends and led to the opening try of the game. Under pressure early from the Wallabies’ physicality around the ruck, the veteran remained composed and distributed at his usual golden standard. A few snipes around the ruck were easily defused by the Wallabies.

10. Richie Mo’unga – 8

Mo’unga’s boot didn’t feature like it did against South Africa and the All Blacks attack wasn’t as ruthless in the opening stages as it was in previous matches. Once a better platform was set up front, Mo’unga’s distribution skills got a chance to shine and a hot-potato pass to Will Jordan put his side up 12 at the halftime break.

The game opened up late and Mo’unga pulled strings to make the most of the space. Outside of one disallowed try, his runs threatened without clearing the line. Overall, the No 10’s passing maintained the positive momentum and his defence was up to the task.

11. Mark Telea – 9.5

Telea was introduced to Marika Koroibete rather abruptly as the Australian winger read the All Blacks backline move like a book and buried his fellow winger. The Super Rugby standout made good decisions in each of his carries, making the most out of his touches in traffic and spotting an opportunity to score with a quick tap.

The Wallaby backs looked to rip the ball away from Telea in the tackle and the winger adapted by wrapping the ball up with both arms in contact. A superb run off the lineout saw him take on eight Wallabies and make huge metres in the most unlikely of circumstances, as is becoming his trademark. Safe hands under the high ball and strong on the defensive side of the ball throughout. Very efficient in his cleanouts around the breakdown. 126 running metres on the night led both teams.

12. Jordie Barrett – 8

Barrett racked up 10 tackles in the first half alone to lead the backline defensively. On attack, his physical runs were unrelenting. His defence was physical again in the second period but didn’t feature as heavily. The All Blacks’ playmakers had less of a focus on triple threat attack and went about their phase play, keeping ball in hand. This limited Barrett’s influence on the match somewhat as he contributed some physical hit-ups but didn’t feature too much as a distributor.

13. Rieko Ioane – 7.5

There’s fast twitch athletes and then there’s Rieko Ioane. The centre was back to his miraculous try-saving tricks early. There weren’t many opportunities for the speedster to stretch his legs but his decision-making was good and he added some crisp distribution when it was required. A number of runs off the restart saw Rieko take all metres on offer.

14. Will Jordan – 8.5

The Jordan magic found ways to influence the match, working off Beauden Barrett in chasing kicks and finishing the All Blacks’ most impressive phase play effort just before halftime. The combination with his fellow wing Mark Telea proved to have great chemistry and New Zealand profited from it. Jordan’s distribution skills were special on the night, setting up scoring opportunities at will. He wasn’t put under any pressure during his minutes at fullback but he did continue his excellent playmaking, drawing multiple defenders and offloading with ease.

15. Beauden Barrett – 7

Barrett’s vision found holes behind the Wallabies line and Will Jordan was always on hand for a handy chase. That vision in addition to Barrett’s role as a defensive coordinator with his communication is what has secured his role as the All Blacks’ top-choice fullback and while he wasn’t as influential as in previous weeks, he fulfilled his role.

 

Reserves

16. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 9

Taukei’aho didn’t need an invitation to get involved in the game once on the field, carrying time and time again while getting his legs pumping through contact. 11 caries and 12 tackles in his few minutes is an absolutely wild tally.

17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 7

18. Nepo Laulala – 7

19. Samuel Whitelock – 7.5

20. Luke Jacobson – 8

21. Cam Roigard – 8

There was a shift in tempo when the debutant came onto the park and the All Blacks quickly profited on the scoreboard.

22. Anton Lienert-Brown – 8.5

There was no shortage of intent from Lienert-Brown, who hit the Wallabies line like a rocket with every touch.

23. Caleb Clarke – 8

Some determined and opportunistic runs saw the Blues flyer make a solid impact off the bench.

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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