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Wallabies player ratings vs All Blacks | Bledisloe Cup

By Finn Morton
Australia faces the haka during The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australia Wallabies at Forsyth Barr Stadium on August 05, 2023 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Peter Meecham/Getty Images)

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 at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

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With a vibrant crowd of more than 28,000 waiting in the stands on Saturday afternoon, 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.

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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.

Here’s how the Wallabies rated.

  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.

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The front rower 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
5
Draws
0
Wins
0
Average Points scored
36
20
First try wins
20%
Home team wins
40%

  1. 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.

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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 flanker made six stops in defence and only ran the ball three times. McReight was replaced by Rob Leota in the 59th minute.

  1. 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 backrower on a mixed night for the Australians.

  1. 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 at 2.29 pm NZST. McDermott was ready, and so were the Wallabies.

Once the Test got underway, McDermott played a key role in the Wallabies’ phase play. The N. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Mark Nawaqanitawase – 7

The man known as Marky Mark was good without being great. As a winger, 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.

  1. 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.

Replacements:

  1. Matt Faessler – 7 – Faessler made his Test debut for the Wallabies this afternoon and put in a solid shift after coming on early.
  2. James Slipper – 7
  3. Zane Nonggorr – 6
  4. Will Skelton – 7.5
  5. Rob Leota – 5
  6. Nic White – 5
  7. Quade Cooper – 6 – Clutch penalty goal with less than 10 minutes to play.
  8. Izaia Perese – N/A
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Comments

22 Comments
M
Michael 349 days ago

As an AB have to say "never in doubt" after Richie kicked the last penalty 😃 I never believed the hype that we would trounce the Wallabies. It was always going to be a very tight game, given all the changes Fozzie made.

I must congratulate the Wallabies for turning up and showing that they can be a threat. Perhaps not a realistic chance to win RWC23, but I believe the reality is RWC23 is a distraction for Eddie and the Wallabies - the real focus will be the Lions in 25 and a home RWC in 27. Of course Eddie cant say that to the 23 team.

I do believe Foster et al would have learned a lot from this game - Mo'unga showed he IS the first choice fly half. McKenzie showed that when under pressure he is unable to lead and kick well.

Stephenson showed his defensive frailities, he did do some good things, but not sure he did enough to play himself to Paris.

While I am a Blues fan, I hope the ABs choose Smith, Webber and Roigard at scrum half. I am just not convinced by Christie he does some good things but his pass is slow.

Cane again didnt win one turn over, and missed a lot of tackles - in the past games he has shown good tackling and leadership but he was average in this game.

Nepo Laulala showed again that he is 3rd choice tight head

M
MitchO 350 days ago

Bell is a dynamic runner first but has talent at scrum time particularly against taller tight heads like mahlerbe. Learning his scrum craft.
Slipper and nongorr struggled in the scrum and it was a problem for us.

j
john 350 days ago

I'd write Koribete down as a 6. He's becoming a liability.

m
mitch 350 days ago

McReight was the best Wallaby by a mile, not sure what he was watching. Every break McReight was there in support or to clean out, organised the defence, made cover tackles and worked tirelessly. That first half performance wouldn’t have happened if we had a big plodding 7. McReight was everywhere, so important to that first half performance.

C
Clarc 350 days ago

ABs showed they know what their first xv is, and it wasnt today. The three Barretts were sorely missed, Finlay Christie isnt a first choice halfback nor probably a first choice bencher, and Dmac fans will be a little quiet. Good to see ALB get some time but wont oust Reiko or Jordie as first choice. Glad they blooded Stevenson but showed what I think was expected, defence a little 'frail'. Wallabies again showed they can fight for 20mins here and there but need to put 60plus mins together. Wouldnt write them off from causing an upset or two in the world cup if they can get it right.

e
edward 350 days ago

those ratings are way too superlative for a team that gave up a 14 point lead

P
Pecos 350 days ago

Losing the 2nd half 3-20 about sums up the Wallabies. Didn't fire a shot after HT against a very inexperienced ABs (who had about 19 changes player & positional from Bled #1).

Sure, some great stuff in 1st half, well deserved lead 17-3, new 9 & 10 combo is a keeper. But seriously!!?!!

J
Jmann 350 days ago

ABs just too good in the end. It was a brave choice starting a bunch of guys who haven't played in many weeks and it almost came undone. NZ missed Mo'unga and all three Barrett's. But in the end NZ played a compelling 2nd 40mins and took a well-deserved win.

D-Mac fans will be quiet. Under pressure he did what he always does; went sideways and put a soft shoulder into defence. Stephenson showed why the ABs coaches are worried about his defence with both tries going down his wing. But his attacking game and kicking game were actually pretty good. Hard to see anyone putting pressure on the first choice players except Faiganuku and obviously Newell is a shoe-in.

Foster would have learned plenty from this game

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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