All Blacks player ratings: Forward pack steps up in first test against Ireland

Aaron Goile is a Stuff senior sports reporter.

OPINION: The All Blacks have come up trumps in their opening test of the year against Ireland.

After losing to the Irish last year, and in three of their previous five, the men in black were intent on revenge, and they sure got it.

Here they are Stuff’s All Blacks player ratings from Saturday night’s 42-19 win at Eden Park.

* The All Blacks beat Ireland 42-19 on the back of an emphatic finish to the first half at Eden Park
* Israel Folau limps off on test rugby return in Tonga’s 36-0 loss to Fiji
* How long Covid sidelined Highlanders utility Ngane Punivai indefinitely

Jordie Barrett: Had some nice touches and runs early, rewarded with first try when burrowing over. Into No 12 in final quarter. One kick-out-on-full mistake. Slotted 6/6 off the tee. 7

Sevu Reece: Sizzling 80-metre runaway effort for second ABs try. Always a threat with hot feet, but stout defense was a big key in this one. 8

Rieko Ioane: Two try-saving tackles in one minute round the hour-mark. Not much ball in space but tidy with what he got. 7

Quinn Tupaea celebrates his try after latching onto Beauden Barrett's grubber.

Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

Quinn Tupaea celebrates his try after latching onto Beauden Barrett’s grubber.

Quinn Tupaea: Good strong carrying to get ABs over the advantage line, coupled with plenty of sound defending. Fine try following through grubber. Replaced at the three-quarter mark. 7.5

Leicester Fainga’anuku: Fine debut. Nervous first touch, slipping over kick clearance to touch, but went on to show his wares. Carried strong in contact, got stuck into rucks, plucked an intercept, traysaving tackle late on. Will go again, for sure. 7.5

Beauden Barrett: Enjoyed a better ride thanks to ABs pack stepping up. Trysaving intercept early on, beautiful grubber for Tupaea try. Back to fullback in final 20. 7

Aaron Smith: First game in six weeks after groin injury and lit it up in an outstanding 60 minutes, pulling all the right strings, highlighted by brilliant snipe from ruck and chip and chase and bat back for final first-half try. Off with 20 to play. 8.5

Ardie Savea was outstanding for the All Blacks in the first test win over Ireland.

Phil Walter/Getty Images

Ardie Savea was outstanding for the All Blacks in the first test win over Ireland.

Ardie Savea: Great nous to dive on a loose ball to finish off Smith’s super work, then scored his own stunner to get ABs rolling in the second stanza. Won fair share of lineout ball at the front, too. Took over captaincy late on. 9

Sam Cane: Had to check all his ribs were there when smashed early by Ringrose, but put on a huge hit himself later in a solid defensive effort. Off with 13 to play. 6

Scott Barrett: Exactly what Foster wanted to see in his big call to pick him at No 6. Every time he touched the ball he went head-down and barged over the gainline to give the ABs front-foot ball. Made a game-high 20 tackles. 9

Sam Whitelock: Surpassed Keven Mealamu to be second-most capped AB of all-time and continued his fine recent form, including nice link play for first try and memorable turnover win. And 17 tackles to boot. 7.5

Brodie Retallick: Muscled up with some crucial tackles and clean outs. Copped a big bang under the eye but straight after got up and snaffled an Irish lineout for a maul turnover. Made way in the final quarter. 8

Ofa Tuungafasi: On his haunches after an early knock, but soon after won a key scrum penalty with ABs under the pump, and kept that pressure on. Off after 55 minutes. 7

Cody Taylor: Will be feeling the pressure from Taukei’aho for starting role. First lineout went astray, had a messy maul transfer which turned the ball over, gave away a lazy early second half penalty. Off with 20 to go. 5

George Bower: Got around the park well and got down to business at scrum time. Replaced on the hour. 7


Samisoni Taukei’aho: Brought on in the 55th minute and immediately made tough meters on the carry and threw himself into a heap (13) of tackles. 7

Karl Tu’inukuafe: He in the 60th minute and first scrum was a beauty near his own line. Sin binned in the 79th minute with ABs on a warning. 6

Angus Ta’avao: Injected in the 55th minute and kept the scrum dominance up, along with nice hands and carries. 6.5

Pita Gus Sowakula: Got 17 minutes on debut, at No 8. Dropped first pass but soon later got the ultimate of rewards, surging off the back for the tastiest of meat pies, then got up and stole a lineout, too. 7

Dalton Papalii: He in the 67th minute and got into some decent defensive work. 6

Finlay Christie: He for the final quarter and let it up straight away with a wide attack from deep scrum, and was a real bundle of energy. 7

Richie Mo’unga: On for the last 20. Played No 10 in reshuffled backline but didn’t see a lot of ball. 6

Braydon Ennor: Played final 13 minutes, swatted off by surging Henshaw then bumped through by Aki for late try, though got a big hit on Keenan. 4

Leave a Comment