The conjecture in the lead up to the bronze play-off match in Tokyo was that nobody wanted to play the game and nobody was too interested in the result.
It’s a good thing that the game did go ahead, however, as fans were treated to an array of easy-on-the-eye tries. It was also an important match to send off a number of the All Blacks‘ stalwarts who were playing their final Test match.
New Zealand led the game from start to finish after scoring in the first five minutes and were good value for their 40-17 win. Who were the All Blacks’ best performers in their final game under the control of Steve Hansen? RugbyPass rates the players:
1. Joe Moody – 7/10
Showed good gas to score a well-taken try, running 20-odd metres. Continued an excellent run of matches for the All Blacks, in both attack, defence and in the set-piece. Off in 56th minute.
2. Dane Coles – 5
Busy early on defence. Not really sighted on attack before he had to take his leave in the 25th minute.
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3. Nepo Laulala – 6
Conceded one penalty at scrum time and then immediately helped his pack win one back. Looked more dynamic than he had been in previous weeks and often used as a dummy ball carrier. Had his busiest game of the tournament on defence. Off in 56th minute.
4. Brodie Retallick – 7
Nice offload to send Moody away for his early try. Won his side a penalty right before half-time which gave New Zealand the platform for Ben Smith to score his second try. Heavy workload for a man still returning to full match fitness. Off in 56th minute.
5. Scott Barrett – 7.5
Made a poor decision at the breakdown to tackle half-back Tomos Williams before the ball was out of the ruck. Minutes later, Wales had three more points. A huge day at the office on defence, with a couple of big shots and 18 tackles in total. Probably a better option than Sam Whitelock at this stage. Off in 61st minute.
6. Shannon Frizell – 6
Bad miss on Dillon Lewis gave Wales the territory they needed to score their second try. Was ever-present in the first half on attack and defence but fell away as the game went on. Off in 61st minute.
7. Sam Cane – 6.5
Massive early on. Made a huge tackle and secured a penalty for the All Blacks when Wales were hot on attack in the first play of the game. Fell off a few more tackles than we are used to seeing. Got stuck into plenty of breakdowns. Threw a couple of passes to no one.
8. Kieran Read – 7.5
Nice linebreak and offload to send Retallick away in the early stages of the match, leading to Moody’s try. Got his hands free on more than one occasion and was always looking for a supporting runner. Worked exceptionally hard on defence, too, with a game-high 21 tackles. A worthy final game for one of New Zealand’s best.
9. Aaron Smith – 8
Made a nice break down the left-hand side from a back-pedalling scrum but probably made a mess of the opportunity when he put in an average kick. Made amends from ensuing the attacking possession, throwing a lovely inside ball to Beauden Barrett to create the second try. Expert cut-out ball created Ben Smith’s second try. In general, controlled the game well. Off in 56th minute.
10. Richie Mo’unga – 7.5
A mixed game from the young ten. Seemed to know when to kick but couldn’t always execute well. Put one particularly nice flat chip through shortly after half-time that put pressure on Wales inside their own 22, which eventually resulted in some attacking possession and then a score for Ryan Crotty. A lovely dart and chip with ten minutes to go yielded his own try a few phases later. Bad penalty miss early on but then found his radar. Run over a few times in defence.
11. Rieko Ioane – 5
Had a game very typical of present-day Rieko Ioane. Popped up on the wing a few times and looked like he might scamper away, but was never able to break free from tackles. Ghosted on defence. Spent the final quarter at centre where he looked hungry. Often got his hands free but had no one on his shoulder – might have been better utilised one spot in at twelve?
12. Sonny Bill Williams – 7
Set up a try for his midfield partner immediately after the break and then sent another superb offload out to the wing moments later. The ensuing try was unluckily ruled out. Made the most tackles of any New Zealand back during the time that he was on the field. Off in 56th minute.
13. Ryan Crotty – 6.5
Ran a nice line off SBW’s shoulder to help himself to a relatively easy try. Added a bit more direct intent in the midfield which may have been useful against England. Off in 56th minute.
14. Ben Smith – 7
Made a slow start to the game but stamped his mark late in the first half with two well-taken tries, the first from a trademark jink and jive in Wales’ 22 and the second after the half-time buzzer from an excellent cut-out pass from his half-back. Almost had a hat-trick shortly after the second stanza began. Not quite as solid on defence. Wales’ first try came on the back of Smith rushing out of the line and leaving a gap in the All Blacks’ defence. However, chased every kick with intent and managed to reclaim the ball once.
15. Beauden Barrett – 7.5
Showed great explosive pace to break away from the congested ruck area and score his team’s second try. Looked safe at full-back and came into the first receiver role regularly and effectively. Didn’t have an exceptional game by any standards but still ran hard and chewed through some metres.
16. Liam Coltman – 7.5
On in 25th minute. New Zealand’s top metre-eater in the forwards. Nice breakaway from a lineout in the 32nd minute. Earned the All Blacks a breakdown penalty moments later. Lineout throwing was straight, but not always on target. His best game in the black jersey.
17. Atu Moli – 6
On in 56th minute. Called into action on defence as soon as he jumped on the park.
18. Angus Ta’avao – 6
On in 56th minute. Like Moli, made plenty of tackles.
19. Patrick Tuipulotu – 5.5
On in 61st minute. Made one big tackle and hit a few breakdowns.
20. Matt Todd – 5
On in 61st minute. Little more than a cameo role.
21. Brad Weber – 6
On in 56th minute. Continued where Smith left off, zipping around the field, but threw one average pass.
22. Anton Lienert-Brown – 6
On in 56th minute. Gave the crowd something to cheer about in the final minute but for all the wrong reasons.
23. Jordie Barrett – 6.5
On in 56th minute. Nice take from a kick-off and spread his wings a few times on attack.
WATCH: RugbyPass gets the post-match reaction outside the stadium in Tokyo
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