All Blacks Player Ratings vs Scotland (Autumn Nations Series, 2022)
Written by Max Sharp.
Though the All Blacks had a stunning start for the crowd at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland's comeback made me wonder if my prediction of an upset was correct. As the game was a true grind, the half-time score sat at 14-17. With Scotland eventually taking their score up for a 14-23 deficit for the All Blacks, the yellow card to Jack Dempsey proved fatal, with two more tries allowing the All Blacks to win 31-23. While many parts of the match were disappointing, there are also many positives for Ian Foster's men, including extending their win streak to 6. Let's read through the players from jersey 1 through to 23, so we can see how they went in this somewhat mixed performance.
Mark Telea, pictured training at Eden Park, finally made his test debut and scored twice against Scotland. Photo: Max Sharp.
All Blacks Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Ethan de Groot (5/10)
With the Scottish scrum an absolute mess, de Groot had a field day against Zander Fagerson. Though de Groot had similar impact generating front-foot ball at the breakdown, 3 metres off 2 carries and a tackle ratio of just 4/7 does demonstrate fatigue after a long year.
Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (8/10)
Crossed the try line after just 2 minutes, extending his 2022 total to 7 tries from 11 tests. The team got the performance expected from Taukei'aho, who threw all his lineouts on target, while his tackle rate of 9/11 and 16 metres off 7 carries gave Scotland some headaches.
Tighthead Prop - Nepo Laulala (5/10)
One of the few All Blacks to complete every tackle attempt he made, with 7 in total. Laulala scrummaged successfully as usual, while he was busy with ball-in-hand too. Questions still need to be asked about how well his return from injury has gone though, with Scotland winning most of their 6 turnovers in the first half.
Lock 4 - Sam Whitelock (5/10)
Did his best to get involved with the game, though he didn't do so quite quickly enough when cleaning bodies off the ruck in the first half. Did well elsewhere with 14 metres off 4 carries, 4 passes, 1 offload and 11/12 tackles, making this an average performance.
Lock 5 - Scott Barrett (7/10)
Lended his weight to the props as the scrum held well through the match, while scoring a try in the 65th minute. His carry metres of 7 weren't the highest, though he played a strong role in drawing in defenders. Was one of the team's top tacklers, with 8 in total.
Blindside Flanker - Akira Ioane (3/10)
Was able to show improvement at the breakdown with 1 turnover, but had a performance to forget aside from that. Ioane made just 8 metres off 3 carries, while 4/7 tackles isn't a good rate for a flanker at all. With Shannon Frizell continuing to gain more of a percentage in the blindside depth chart, one must start to worry for Ioane's World Cup chances.
Openside Flanker - Dalton Papali'i (9/10)
Acting as a great fringe guard for the breakdown, Papali'i won Man of the Match in a powerful defensive display which added up to a team-high 14 tackles and 2 turnovers. Didn't quite get the opportunities with ball-in-hand but proved his worth as an international 7.
Number 8 - Ardie Savea (9/10)
Added yet another world-class performance to his season resumé, demonstrating the ridiculousness of World Rugby's Player of the Year nominations. Stat sheet displayed 62 metres and 4 defenders beaten off a team-high 12 carries, 8 passes, 2 offloads, 9 tackles and 2 turnovers. The true World Player of the Year.
Halfback - Finlay Christie (4/10)
Played well in the first half, with 14 metres off 3 carries and 5 tackles. As the forwards lost grip over the breakdown though, Christie's passing became slower and he lost his calmness; having a difficult time at regenerating the team spirit. Christie's test-level game management will need to improve in the event Aaron Smith is lost to injury next year.
First-Five - Beauden Barrett (5/10)
With Christie playing poorly from the 20th minute onwards, Barrett found himself to be a far more hands-on 10 than usual, with 23 passes to Christie's 42. Ran 28 metres and beat a defender off 6 carries, but with some poor tactical kicking, couldn't quite rescue the team until TJ Perenara came on.
Left Wing - Caleb Clarke (7/10)
Delivered the goods with ball-in-hand, running in 62 metres, beating 2 defenders and making 1 clean break. Clarke also got involved as a distributor with 4 passes, while showing improvement under the high ball. 2/5 tackles definitely needs working on though.
Second-Five - David Havili (7/10)
While the usuals have called for Havili's axing again, context needs to be considered when discussing the wayward kick (it was recovered) Darcy Graham's try off intercepting a pass by Havili (the All Blacks were down to 14). Proved that with his added weight, he is now indeed a valid crash-ball option; with 28 metres off 4 carries. Havili had made the most tackles of the team, with 11/13, when subbed off. Havili's haters are nitpicking at this point; two simple actions don't define a performance.
Centre - Anton Lienert-Brown (7/10)
The number 13 is indeed rusty (a yellow-card for conceding a penalty try showcases this), but is on the right track. Ran hard in the second half, with 48 metres, 1 defender beaten, 1 clean break and 9 carries. Passed well 7 times, while managing 5/6 tackles and 1 turnover.
Right Wing - Mark Telea (9/10)
While Telea's test debut was a long-time wait, he enjoyed the dream debut. Aside from 1/3 tackles, he was perfect. Telea ran 81 metres, beat 5 defenders and made 3 clean breaks off 11 carries. Came off the wing for work with 3 passes and 2 offloads too. Start him again next week.
Fullback - Jordie Barrett (5/10)
Highlight of the game was a try assist for Telea by cross-kicking. While Barrett's 10 carries allowed for 46 metres and 3 defenders beaten, he was left stranded on occasion, while making just 4 passes and totalling a tackle rate of just 3/7. Foster's wishes to develop Barrett as a second-choice 12 after Havili appears to have left his usually world-class defence from fullback in a rusty state.
Reserve Hooker - Codie Taylor (7/10)
Made a huge difference when coming on to the pitch. The second half possession rate was 61% so Taylor made just a single tackle, though his 5 carries delivered strongly, adding up to 22 metres, 2 defenders beaten and 1 clean break. Nailed it in the lineout too.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - George Bower (4/10)
Conceded the All Blacks' only scrum penalty to Scotland as soon as he came on, leading straight to a penalty goal. Missed his only tackle attempt and managed 5 metres off 3 carries. Tu'ungafasi will likely replace Bower in jersey 17 next week.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Fletcher Newell (7/10)
Is slowly on his way to becoming a world-class prop. Newell's 2/2 tackles are attributable to the lack of possession, though his ruck speed and 4 metres off a single carry made strong impact. Drew a few defenders in before making 5 passes too. His best test performance.
Reserve Lock - Tupou Vaa'i (No rating)
On in the 71st minute of the match, coming on too late to make an impact. A disappointing level of game time was given to him.
Reserve Loose Forward - Shannon Frizell (7/10)
Had the same result as the other forwards who came on in the second half in terms of defence, making just 1 tackle. Hardened the breakdown guarding superbly compared to Ioane, acting as a third lock. Made 4 strong carries for 17 metres.
Reserve Halfback - TJ Perenara (7/10)
After a near certainty he had played his final test this time last year, Perenara is back in the mix. His passing was much crisper than Christie's, while his former Hurricanes combination with Beauden Barrett remains well alive. Also made 1 turnover.
Reserve First-Five - Stephen Perofeta (No rating)
Played just 2 minutes in his third test, having previously played just 1 minute in his first test. With Mo'unga holding near 60% of the 10 depth chart and no clear third-choice option established, this is becoming farcical. Perofeta deserves better.
Reserve Utility Back - Rieko Ioane (6/10)
Indeed took to the field at 13, with Lienert-Brown moving to 12. Didn't do much off the bench aside from beating 2 defenders before offloading to give Telea a second try, but certainly made the most of his time on the pitch by running 12 metres. While the aforementioned midfield mixers used Havili's substitution to feed their narrative, Ioane's addition was important for Lienert-Brown, regenerating his combination-building with both of the established midfielders (Havili and Ioane) in the team.