Updated: Aug 14
Written by Max Sharp.
The All Blacks have won a test match. It feels like a long time since I typed that sentence, so there's no doubt most will be incredibly pleased with that result. After a 15-10 half time score, victory definitely wasn't an easy feat to manage at Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, particularly thanks to the tenacity of the Springboks' backline. After a small lead change during the second half, late tries to David Havili and Scott Barrett may have just saved Ian Foster's job. Let's have a run through of the players from jersey number 1 through to 23 and see how the All Blacks went!
Could the pressure on Ian Foster (pictured at Eden Park), continue despite the loss for South Africa? Photo: Max Sharp.
All Blacks Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Ethan de Groot (7/10)
The stats may initially trick some into believing he was anonymous, but de Groot was anything but. 2 metres off 3 carries and 2 tackles don't appear much, but his ruck speed was massive. Winning 100% of our rucks in the first half was huge, credit to de Groot for this.
Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (8/10)
Played a big part in getting front-foot ball, making 20 metres and beating 2 defenders off 10 carries, scoring a try too. Gave some strong ruck speed, while distributing 4 passes and 2 offloads. Taukei'aho was no defensive slouch, completing a modest 6 tackles.
Tighthead Prop - Tyrel Lomax (6/10)
Lomax may not be the world's best scrummager; the All Blacks won 3/5 scrums, but his mobility was very impactful. With 3 metres off 2 carries, attacking chances didn't come his way, though 6 tackles was all in a day's work under difficult conditions.
Lock 4 - Sam Whitelock (9/10)
In his 136th test match, the big Crusader was a monster on defence, with 7 tackles and a match-high 3 turnovers. Struggled to get front-foot ball, but opened the attack with 6 passes and 2 offloads, while remaining rock solid in the lineout and mauls. Is definitely on his way to become the most-capped All Black.
Lock 5 - Scott Barrett (7/10)
Assisted the props with providing his backs clean ball, while rattling the Springbok lineout. Had a strong performance in the tight spaces with 12 metres off 6 carries and 1 turnover. 4 tackles could be improved on, but that last-minute try was the icing on the cake of victory.
Blindside Flanker - Shannon Frizell (7/10)
Made the most of the space that was given, taking no prisoners up front. Frizell's 1.95m and 108kg frame to run 41 metres off just 5 carries, while his 8 tackles were robust hits that stopped the Springboks in their tracks. His best test match in a very long time.
Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (7/10)
Captained with authority, though not pushing the ref. Ran in for the game's opening try, while also gaining 16 metres and beating 1 defender off 5 carries. Cane also amassed 11 tackles, the most of any All Black. Successful performance.
Number 8 - Ardie Savea (8/10)
World Player of the Year should just be handed over to him already. Made an amazing 44-metre break to begin the match, finishing off with 58 metres, 2 defenders beaten and 1 clean break off 10 carries. Made 8 passes and 3 offloads to his team, while putting in a powerful defensive display with 5 tackles and 2 turnovers.
Halfback - Aaron Smith (7/10)
Perhaps the halfback's best performance of the season. Given quality ball to work with at the Highlanders all season, the vintage passing we've known Smith for has finally come back! Also good to see 2 offloads, his game management was superb.
First-Five - Richie Mo'unga (9/10)
The world's best 10 was finally given a proper shot at test level for 2022 and boy was it worth the wait. 16 metres and 2 defenders beaten from 6 carries wasn't a crazy amount, was lovely to see his massive tackle on Willie le Roux and 21 passes though. World class team management and 15 points to go with that.
Left Wing - Caleb Clarke (5/10)
Plenty of praise is going towards the good Clarke did on attack as usual, 62 metres, 4 defenders beaten and 2 clean breaks off 5 carries was important. On the negative, Clarke's lack of kicking ability and defensive mishaps from this test, may prove a target for opponents in tests to come.
Second-Five - David Havili (7/10)
Combination with Ioane was initially patchy, while there was an early knock on. Havili's game management became strongly apparent as the test wore on, while his try, 40 metres and 4 defenders beaten were off a few crash-ball plays. Only passed from hand 6 times, but had a superb kicking game. Hopefully this will quieten some haters...
Centre - Rieko Ioane (9/10)
Shook off some early mistakes to make 8/10 tackles in his best test of 2022. Ioane ran 102 metres, beat 4 defenders and made 1 clean break off 9 carries, making for a highly entertaining Man of the Match performance.
Right Wing - Will Jordan (8/10)
A couple of defensive errors, but rose to the occasion for plenty of high balls in the second half. Jordan's running game was elite as usual, this time running 96 metres and making 2 clean breaks from 6 carries. 8 passes were a fair few for a winger too.
Fullback - Jordie Barrett (6/10)
Barrett's lone tackle was an incredible try-saver on Willie le Roux, while he handled the South African kicking game brilliantly. Not too many attacking opportunities with 34 metres off 8 carries, but enough to retain his spot in the 15 jersey against Argentina.
Reserve Hooker - Codie Taylor (No rating)
On for Taukei'aho in the 55th minute and didn't make much impact, with just 1 tackle, so won't be rated.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - George Bower (4/10)
Penalised in the scrum twice and had slower ruck speed than de Groot. Made more metres than carries (3 metres from 2 carries), but 1 tackle seems a bit low for the amount of time Bower was on the pitch.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Fletcher Newell (4/10)
Not the debut you'd want scrum-wise, but Newell will be deservedly stoked to win the Freedom Cup. Ruck speed was acceptable, while he made 2 passes, 1 offload and 2 tackles.
Reserve Lock - Tupou Vaa'i (No rating)
Made 3 metres off 1 carry, having played just 2 minutes off the bench. Got close to a try, but didn't play enough to be rated.
Reserve Loose Forward - Akira Ioane (5/10)
Possibly the most to contribute off the bench, with 13 metres off 3 carries and 2 passes. Filled in Frizell's place at rucks too, a starting role is one that better suits Ioane though.
Reserve Halfback - Finlay Christie (No rating)
Similarly to Vaa'i, Christie didn't play enough to be rated, coming on in the 67th minute.
Reserve First-Five - Beauden Barrett (3/10)
A bit of a reshuffling took place when Barrett replaced Caleb Clarke, to play at fullback, though he was yellow-carded for tackling Jaden Hendrikse off the ball just 6 minutes after coming on; this easily could have tipped the game in South Africa's favour.
Reserve Midfielder - Quinn Tupaea (6/10)
On for Sam Cane in the 67th minute, packing down in the scrum until Beauden Barrett's return. Tupaea's run at 7 was rather interesting, he ran 10 metres off 2 carries, 2 passes, 2 offloads and 1 tackle, before moving to 13 when Barrett came back on.