Written by Max Sharp.
Disappointing is perhaps the best word to describe this performance, which followed up a 23-point winning margin from the first test. Though the All Blacks were able to hold a 53% possession rate for the Dunedin audience, they had just 36% territory, while their tackle percentage and ruck win percentage, were both worse than Ireland's. 2 yellow cards and one red, sealed the team's fate, as their first-half losing margin of 7-10, finished in a 12-23 defeat. So, how did this happen? Let's read through the players from jersey number 1 through to 23 and rate the All Blacks.
The All Blacks sing "God Defend New Zealand" ahead of the first test against Ireland. Photo: Max Sharp.
All Blacks Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - George Bower (8/10)
The All Blacks won all 7 scrums off their own feed, while Bower was able to win them a scrum penalty. 7/9 tackles could be improved upon, though with 13 metres, 2 defenders beaten and 1 clean break off 3 carries, he definitely should have got more ball.
Hooker - Codie Taylor (5/10)
With 17 metres off 9 carries, Taylor couldn't quite get the same front-foot ball as Bower. Guilty of a few mistakes at the breakdown, as well as losing one of the team's lineouts. With 7/9 tackles, Taylor had a very average performance.
Tighthead Prop - Ofa Tu'ungafasi (4/10)
Yellow-carded, perhaps unfairly, but due to his replacement's red, Tu'ungafasi had to play 70 minutes and it showed. His turnover was important, as was 9/10 tackles, though his single missed tackle had dire effects. Just 6 metres from 5 carries, while he also conceded too many penalties. Not his best work.
Lock 4 - Brodie Retallick (5/10)
Some made a case for Retallick being Player of the Match due to his 9/9 tackles and 1 turnover, but he was completely outmuscled in the ruck. Just 10 metres from 7 carries as well, so this wasn't much more than slightly above average.
Lock 5 - Scott Barrett (4/10)
Let's just say his 50th test wasn't the best. Confined to just 6 metres off 4 carries, Barrett's decoy lines were well read by Ireland; nothing resulted from his 6 passes. He must be moved back to flanker next week.
Blindside Flanker - Dalton Papali'i (4/10)
Parachuted into a jersey he isn't suited to, by a coach who failed to research the opposition. Papali'i did his best, running 14 metres and beating 1 defender from 4 carries, though he made just 5 tackles and was outplayed in the rucks. A bad performance, but not his fault.
Regardless of how he performs, Sam Cane (right) will remain captain. Photo: Max Sharp.
Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (7/10)
Captain Cane had one of the better metre-per-carry rates, with 10 metres from 5 carries. Though his decision-making as a captain didn't particularly stand out, Cane can be commended for his running and 14 tackles, the most of the team.
Number 8 - Ardie Savea (No rating)
With Aidan Ross having to come on due to both tighthead props being carded, Savea was taken off the pitch in the 31st minute; not being allowed to return due to Ta'avao's red card. Having made just 6 metres off 2 carries, 4 passes and 3 tackles, Savea won't be rated. Whoever failed to inform Cane that Savea wouldn't be allowed back on though, should be barred from match-day logistics. Savea is the best player in the world, enough said.
Halfback - Aaron Smith (4/10)
Having to run the attack himself due to the negligence of his halves partner doesn't excuse Smith's predictable passing. He continued to select the same area of a flat pod at what seemed like every phase and was rightfully substituted.
First-Five - Beauden Barrett (2/10)
Though Barrett won't be faulted for just 6 tackles due to the All Blacks' high possession rate, or his try, he has been wearing a black jersey for far too long. Just 2 carries, for 6 metres and 1 defender beaten and just 11 passes, compared to Smith's 64. Contrast that to his opposite, Johnny Sexton, who made nearly half as many passes as Jamison Gibson-Park, Ireland's halfback. Time for Barrett to get the long-overdue boot from the 10 jersey.
Left Wing - Leicester Fainga'anuku (4/10)
A tough time for the number 11 under pressure. Yellow-carded for his late charge down on Mack Hansen, it would have been appropriate to take Fainga'anuku off instead of Savea. Just 16 metres off 3 carries and 1 tackle too. Hopefully this won't harm his confidence.
Second-Five - Quinn Tupaea (5/10)
Parachuted into a jersey he isn't ready to wear at test level yet. Though Tupaea's crash-ball running was a proper success, with 19 metres from 4 carries, his 6 passes could have been more, while he doesn't yet have the confidence to bring his kicking game to a match. Havili was needed as an extra game managing option. Tupaea should wear jersey 23 next week.
Centre - Rieko Ioane (5/10)
One of just two backs to exploit space, Ioane was still able to run 64 metres despite just 5 carries. Though he was able to complete all 6 of his tackles, Ioane definitely loses marks for his mere 2 passes and an offside late in the match; this resulted in Sexton's winning kick.
Right Wing - Sevu Reece (7/10)
Though you'd look at his stats assuming he was poor, Reece's 9 metres and 2 defenders beaten off 4 carries, 1 pass and 3/3 tackles were worth it for Reece's kicking game, work under the high ball and 2 turnovers. Must start at 11, with Jordan at 14 next week.
Fullback - Jordie Barrett (7/10)
Those who spoke negatively on Barrett's performance simply didn't pay attention to all the work he did to diffuse high balls. Though Barrett's own kicking wasn't the best, he did run 51 metres and beat 4 defenders off 8 carries and make 9 passes, stepping up as a distributor.
All Blacks Fullback, Jordie Barrett, lines up a kick at goal. Photo: Max Sharp.
Reserve Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (7/10)
Added a massive impact when coming on in the 57th minute, running 21 metres and beating 1 defender off 6 carries. Tauke'iaho became just the second forward on the pitch to give his backs front-foot ball and has now overtaken Taylor as the country's best hooker.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Aidan Ross (6/10)
On in the 33rd minute for Savea, for the sake of the scrum's health and safety, until Tu'ungafasi's return. Ross then came on for Bower in the 64th minute for a solid test debut, he provided the ruck speed needed, held the scrum and made 3 tackles.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Angus Ta'avao (1/10)
With Tu'ungafasi in the bin, Ta'avao came on for Dalton Papali'i in the 26th minute and had been on the pitch for just 5 minutes when he clashed heads with Garry Ringrose in an upright tackle. The referee ruled Ta'avao at fault, red-carding him as he finally stood up for an HIA.
Reserve Lock - Patrick Tuipulotu (No rating)
Played just 14 minutes in his emergency return from Japan, but functioned as a reliable lineout jumper. With 6 metres from 2 carries and just 1 tackle, Tuipulotu can't be fairly rated for the 2nd test, but must start in the 3rd test, over Retallick, should Whitelock be fit.
Reserve Loose Forward - Pita Gus Sowakula (No rating)
Beat a defender ahead of dropping Mo'unga's kickoff into touch, while making just 1 tackle in his 11 minutes. Sowakula didn't play enough to be rated either.
Reserve Halfback - Folau Fakatava (6/10)
Despite a bad kick to begin his debut, in just 18 minutes, Fakatava's game management made a huge difference. His 22 passes gave a huge amount of variety for pods to attack with. Had Fakatava been given more support by the locks in the ruck, his game management could have won the game.
Reserve First-Five - Richie Mo'unga (6/10)
Made 7 passes in 23 minutes, compared to Barrett's 11 from 57. Mo'unga held onto the ball like a proper 10 and did not once kick the ball away inside Ireland's half. With 7 carries off 2 metres and 4/4 tackles, perhaps the losing margin would have been smaller had Mo'unga started. Not that it will happen in the 3rd test or anything.
Reserve Outside Back - Will Jordan (7/10)
Found wanting under the high ball by Ireland, Jordan is still best-suited to wing. Effective in his 4 carries however, Jordan was able to run 37 metres, beat 1 defender and make 2 clean breaks, as well as score a consolation try. Starting him at 14 next week will be of service.