Written by Max Sharp.
While many New Zealanders have united over the talking points surrounding Ian Foster as the All Blacks coach, this was a timely reminder that though Foster has severely damaged the team's reputation, this nation probably has it easy compared to Wales, who are now sitting with a win percentage below 40, with Wayne Pivac as the Head Coach, a far cry from the heights of 2019, when they ranked as the world's best team. The match started off as a grind in the tight channels, though the half-time lead of 22-13 finished off as a phenomenal 55-23 win, in which the All Blacks proved a superior side. Let's read through the players from jersey number 1 through to 23, to see how each individual rated.
Codie Taylor's performance at hooker left plenty to talk about. Photo: Max Sharp.
All Blacks Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Ethan de Groot (7/10)
A typical performance from the number 1, who produced strong work to keep the All Blacks in the game. Didn't see much ball, with 3 metres off 3 carries, but with quick ruck speed and 7/7 tackles, de Groot still kept the energy for big pushes in the scrum before being replaced.
Hooker - Codie Taylor (9/10)
While Taylor, of course past the peak of his career, has copped an unfair level of criticism since a loss to Argentina, he showed no signs of poor form. Got the team some go-forward with 8 metres off 7 carries, but was rewarded for his 14/15 tackles and accurate lineout throwing, with two close-range tries, both off picking-and-going.
Tighthead Prop - Tyrel Lomax (7/10)
After disappointing off the bench against Japan, Lomax muscled up and confirmed a starting jersey is a better role for his big frame. Made the most metres of the tight-five with 19, off 9 carries, also making as many tackles. Strong scrummaging as well, will be in his prime for the World Cup.
Lock 4 - Sam Whitelock (7/10)
Shut down on attack, but made good decisions as the captain, while being an integral lineout option. Clocked up 15/15 tackles in his 80-minute display, winning 1 turnover to go with that. Played his 141st test, so is now just 8 tests away from being the most-capped All Black.
Lock 5 - Scott Barrett (6/10)
With Whitelock guarding the fringes of the ruck, Barrett did the dirty work to provide front-foot ball. Made 9 metres off 4 carries, while also providing 5 passes. Won a well-worked turnover, but was the only forward to miss multiple tackles, with a rate of 7/9.
Blindside Flanker - Shannon Frizell (8/10)
Provided some robust hits with ball-in-hand, as well as on defence. Frizell's 10 carries saw a total of 22 metres and 2 defenders beaten, while delivering a count of 13/13 tackles in an ongoing string of strong performances.
Openside Flanker - Dalton Papali'i (9/10)
Handed just his third start of the season but didn't look out of place at all, using his piston-like leg drive to eat up 34 metres, beat 3 defenders and make 1 clean break off just 3 carries. Papali'i also completed 14/15 tackles and won 1 turnover in a classy defensive showcase.
Number 8 - Ardie Savea (10/10)
Just as the season comes to a close, the world's very best made a timely reminder ahead of the World Rugby Awards announcements. Deservingly won Man of the Match off a stat chart showing 1 try, 39 metres, 6 defenders beaten, 10 carries, 11 passes, 2 offloads (including a try assist for Aaron Smith), 10/10 tackles and 2 turnovers. Simply phenomenal.
Halfback - Aaron Smith (9/10)
Became the most-capped All Blacks back and did so in style by turning the clock back to 2013, with his running game. With 2 tries, 35 metres, 4 defenders beaten and 2 clean breaks off 4 carries, that was a highlight reel to remember. Got stuck in on defence too, with 11 tackles and 1 turnover, while doing a superb job at the basics of his position.
First-Five - Richie Mo'unga (5/10)
Opening the scoring with a penalty, Mo'unga secured himself a 13-point haul all up, then taking his chances with 22 metres off 4 carries. While also winning 1 turnover and making 4/4 tackles (including a try-saver), Mo'unga's game management left much to be desired, with the other backs not being given enough quality ball; Mo'unga made just 5 passes.
Left Wing - Caleb Clarke (4/10)
Was one of the many backs who didn't get his hand on the ball enough; only managing 12 metres and 1 defender beaten off 4 carries. While Clarke is indeed a valuable clean-out option for the breakdown out wide, he needs to be used by his team, to score tries and put spectators back into stadiums. This rating certainly isn't Clarke's fault.
Second-Five - Jordie Barrett (6/10)
In his second test with 12 on his back, Barrett certainly showed his athleticism scoring his two tries, still getting to use his boot. While Barrett made 39 metres and beat 4 defenders, making a clean break from 11 carries, he simply isn't built for this style of play, let the audience continue to see beautiful tries such as his first one, rather than waste that height and vision that is so adept to the back field.
Centre - Rieko Ioane (7/10)
Hardly had a handle of the ball in the first half, before finally getting a decent crack after moving to 14. Topped the team's metre count with 56, also beating 2 defenders and making 1 clean break from 5 carries. Stayed involved with the first half by tackling hard, for 8/8.
Right Wing - Sevu Reece (No rating)
Reece was on the pitch for 58 minutes, yet only got given the ball for a single carry. While most have claimed Reece was poor, he clearly did his best with 8 tackles. A single carry isn't a realistic way to rate a winger, so Reece won't receive one due to his lack of action.
Fullback - Beauden Barrett (6/10)
The team got a real boost from Barrett's distribution, including 5 passes and 1 offload, while he assisted strongly with organising the team, working to great effect. Not much to show on attack with 10 metres off 6 carries though, while with 4/6 tackles, his accuracy was the lowest of the backs. Fortunate not to have given Anscombe a try as well, following a charge down. His brother's vision was missed from the back.
Reserve Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (8/10)
In a 1-2 punch reminiscent of Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu, Taukei'aho built off Taylor's work with some vicious 8 carries, totalling 39 metres and 3 defenders beaten. Kept the lineout steady as usual, earning the test's final try in the 81st minute as a reward.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Ofa Tu'ungafasi (7/10)
Those who only see the stat sheet aren't going to think much, but Tu'ungafasi's ruck speed and scrummaging were certainly the impact off the bench that was required. Celebrated his 50th test match in style (becoming Northland's second-ever to do so), exactly how a prop would want to.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Fletcher Newell (7/10)
Was certain to get game time after missing the Japan test and performed above the expectations with 14 metres off his single carry, while providing 3 tackles and fitness that continues to improve. A great experience for Newell's ongoing development.
Reserve Lock - Tupou Vaa'i (No rating)
Replacing Scott Barrett with 10 minutes to go, Vaa'i was only able to make 3 carries and 2 tackles, so did not play enough to get a rating.
Reserve Loose Forward - Akira Ioane (6/10)
Though it was unfortunate not to see Billy Harmon debut, Ioane came on to do the basics well in his 20th test. With 13 metres off 4 carries and 4 tackles, the second-most of the substitutes.
Reserve Halfback - Brad Weber (No rating)
Though Weber only played the last 13 minutes, not enough to get a rating, it was a great sign to see him out there, having not played a test in 2022 until now.
Reserve Utility Back - David Havili (No rating)
Havili came on with 10 minutes left, so won't be rated for the same reasons as Vaa'i, having made just 3 tackles.
Reserve Midfielder - Anton Lienert-Brown (No rating)
On for Reece in the 58th minute, with Rieko Ioane moving to 14. Lienert-Brown suffered the same lack of opportunities as the other backs, so won't be rated either.