All Blacks player ratings vs Tonga | Steinlager Series
Who exactly caught the eye the most will differ from person to person, but here are our ratings of the All Blacks’ performance against ‘Ikale Tahi in their first match of the year:
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe – 7.5
Muscled up well at scrum time but was pinged midway through the first half for not releasing the ball in what was one of only a few poor moments by the All Blacks. Off in the 47th minute.
2. Dane Coles – 7.5
Eager to get the ball in his hands from the get-go and even managed to snaffle a turnover from a tackle shortly after the first lineout of the match. Butter fingers on the stroke of half-time but can hardly be faulted for his first half effort. Fronted up well on defence. Off in the 47th minute.
3. Angus Ta’avao – 7.5
Made probably the flashiest try assist of his entire career as he flung a one-handed offload to set Brad Weber away for his second try, which came after he broke the line to find himself in acres of space. Like Tu’inukuafe, was solid at the set piece but gave away a penalty or two. Off in the 47th minute.
4. Scott Barrett – 7
Not a performance for the ages, but went about his work with due diligence. Good lineout steal early in the second half. Off in the 63rd minute.
5. Sam Whitelock (c) – 8
An absolute menace on the defensive side of the ball, where he made a match-high 15 tackles without missing any. Was penalised four times however, at least two times more than anyone else on the park. Hustled well to disrupt Tonga’s first lineout in the 12th minute and picked off another one at the midway point in the second half. Led the way through his actions.
6. Akira Ioane – 7.5
Being pinged for a high tackle on a Tongan player in the first quarter of the match was probably the most notable thing Akira Ioane did in the first half, but he sprung to life in the second stanza. Made one eye-catching clean break that set Richie Mo’unga away for his try. Still a work in progress, but promising signs from this performance.
7. Dalton Papalii – 8.5
Scored a breakaway try in the opening five minutes. Showed immense strength to rip the ball away from a lineout maul right by his own tryline on the half hour mark. Was rewarded as he streaked away down the left-hand sideline for his second meat pie of the evening. Off in the 53rd minute.
8. Luke Jacobson – 9
Immense work rate with ball in hand. Strong bustling run in the opening passage of play. Followed that up with a similar effort in the lead-up to Papalii’s try just a moment later. Was rewarded for his monstrous ball carrying with a try in the opening couple of minutes in the second half. Is a truly frightening figure when unleashed on the opposition’s defence. Finished the match with two try assists. Also put in a decent shift with 10 tackles to his name, trailing only Whitelock in New Zealand’s defensive count.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 3, 2021
9. Brad Weber – 8.5
Scored New Zealand’s third try in the seventh minute through good support play. Bagged his second try nine minutes later thanks to continued good support play. Finished off his hat-trick with yet another try that came through fantastic support play. Three runs, three tries. Also finished with two try assists. A great example for youngsters, and aspiring halfbacks, to always stay in support of the player with ball in hand. Off in the 55th minute.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 7.5
Strolled over for a try in the 54th minute thanks to the work of Akira Ioane, but his wayward goal-kicking will be a point of concern. Directed play well enough, though, and dished up Will Jordan’s second try on a platter right in front of the posts. Off in the 55th minute.
11. George Bridge – 8.5
Perplexed how he didn’t score inside the opening couple of minutes as tried to run over the top of a Tongan defender rather than around them. Redeemed himself with an assist for Weber’s try in the seventh minute. Coughed the ball up right on his own tryline but was saved by Tu’inukuafe’s powerhouse scrummaging ability from the ensuing set piece. Was put into space many a time and racked up of seven clean breaks, three defenders beaten and 108 running metres. Scored his side’s 16th and final try of the night and bagged himself two try assists.
12. Quinn Tupaea – 8
Settled the nerves early as he defused a defensive bomb hoisted up by Tonga but was guilty of a few mishaps as the All Blacks cantered into gear early on. Excellent handling skills to keep his side’s attacking continuity in the lead-up to Papalii’s second try. Acquitted himself very well for a young man that many thought might have been a tad too raw for his test debut. Off in the 63rd minute.
13. Rieko Ioane – 8
Showed some nice link up play to set Bridge away to then set up Weber for his first try. Not at his game-breaking best, but there was plenty to like about how he set up those outside him and opened up space where possible. Flung one wildly forward pass that was called back to deny Will Jordan his fifth try. Linked up well with Tupaea for his try in the 61st minute.
14. Will Jordan – 9.5
Started the game with two tries in two tests. Finished it with seven tries in three tests. Equalled Jeff Wilson for the second-most tries scored by an All Black in a single test and was one try short of Marc Ellis’ long-standing record. Used his evasive skills to full effect in the lead-up to his first try. Got his second with perhaps the easiest finish he’ll ever get in his test career. Completed his hat-trick with a try that came in similarly simple circumstances thanks to the effortless catch-pass game of his inside backs. Same stories for his fourth and fifth tries. Made six clean breaks, beat seven defenders and ran for 150 metres. Outstanding stuff.
15. Damian McKenzie – 9
Jordie Barrett is still yet to have his crack at fullback, but on the basis of this performance, he has a challenge on his hands to overtake Damian McKenzie. Bagged his first try in the opening couple of minutes via some good heads up play. Showed off his impressive footwork to evade a defender deep inside his own half as Tonga looked to apply pressure. Superb tactical kick to peg ‘Ikale Tahi well inside their own 22 early in the second half. Jordan credited him in the post-match presser for setting up most of his tries in simple fashion. It’s no surprise, then, to see McKenzie had three try assists, the most in the match. Stellar effort.
16. Asafo Aumua – 7
On in the 47th minute. Was busy defensively but never really got to see his barnstorming ability with ball in hand.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 3, 2021
17. George Bower – 7
On in the 47th minute. Held his own at the set piece in his first piece of test rugby, which was good to see. Was guilty of a couple of infringements, though.
18. Tyrel Lomax – 7
On in the 47th minute. Mixed bag in his first two scrums, as he helped Bower demolish the first one, but folded in the next. Applied himself well on the defensive side of things, though.
19. Patrick Tuipulotu – 7
On in the 63rd minute. Scored a try in the dying stages of the contest with a charging run that allowed him to storm past a couple of Tongan defenders and cross the line with ease.
20. Ethan Blackadder – 7.5
On in the 53rd minute. Tremendous impact upon his maiden induction to the test arena. Has a big ticker and finished with 25 running metres and six tackles, which isn’t a bad effort for a 27-minute cameo.
21. Finlay Christie – 8
On in the 55th minute. Picked up from where Weber left off by running a great support line to put Jordan away for his fourth try in his first touch of test rugby. Cracking sniping run to kickstart the breakaway that led to Jordan’s fifth try. Could have scored one of his own but the impetus he provided on debut won’t have gone unnoticed by the All Blacks selectors.
22. Beauden Barrett – 7
On in the 55th minute. A welcome return to rugby in New Zealand after his sabbatical in Japan. Took the line on plenty of times and showed some variation that contrasted well with Mo’unga’s style of play. Got stuck in on defence, too.
23. Jordie Barrett – 7
On in the 63rd minute. Thrust into the action at second-five and showed plenty of physicality on defence to turn the ball over via a held up tackle. Perhaps his brief showing in the midfield is a sign of things to come over the coming weeks.
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