Fairfax Media rugby reporter Marc Hinton gives his opinion on how the All Black players rated against France in New Plymouth.
Israel Dagg: 7
Solid rather than spectacular this week. Positionally sound, just one error under the high ball and carved off some big territory with the boot. Limited attacking chances.
Ben Smith: 9
Another strong test from New Zealand rugby's form player. Continues to look sharp in everything he does, with another busy, secure and high-workrate performance, including a nicely taken try just before halftime and a nice touch with the boot at the end.
Conrad Smith: 6
Enjoyed a chance to play in his old home territory, though wasn't quite at his sharpest. Blew a certain try when he couldn't gather in Ma'a Nonu's chip kick and caught out once on defence. Otherwise solid, and put in one big second-half hit on Wesley Fofana.
Ma'a Nonu: 8
Strong overall performance from a player enjoying being back in the black jersey. Has clearly added the tactical kick to his repertoire and continues to use it well. Saved a try too with a much-needed ankle-tap on Remi Tales.
Rene Ranger: 8
New Zealand's most damaging, and effective, ball-runner, broke tackles, ran into gaps and had a strong start and finish to the game. As Steve Hansen noted afterwards, has made real strides and it's a shame the All Blacks now lose him.
Dan Carter: 6
Bit of a mixed bag from the master playmaker. Had his first kick charged down, missed three shots at goal and had one missed touch off a penalty. But restarts good, general kicking top-notch and made his tackles. Would be better for his first run of the series.
Piri Weepu: 5
Pulled just after halftime after a performance that lacked spark. Cleared solidly and marshalled his troops well. But would have been disappointed not to have made more of his chance to put the heat on Aaron Smith.
Kieran Read: 7
By the skipper's sky-high standards was slightly below par. Made two or three handling errors and never made the impact he was able to a week earlier.
Sam Cane: 6
Took care of the basics well and made one strong run but seemed to get dragged into the tight stuff a lot and got caught with one high tackle. Certainly looks a capable backup at this level.
Victor Vito: 5
If this was his big chance to stake his claim, would have been disappointed he wasn't able to stamp his mark more on the game. Hasn't moved ahead of Liam Messam on this performance.
Sam Whitelock: 6
Lacked the X-factor of a week earlier, but still took care of what he had to and ran hard till the end. Shaded by a top-notch performance from his fellow lock.
Luke Romano: 9
New Zealand's best forward, huge workrate, carried well, showed his range of skills and made a serious statement in terms of his ability to be a factor at this level. One missed tackle on Doussain didn't blight a standout display.
Owen Franks: 7
Penalised a couple of times early at the scrum and wouldn't have enjoyed a night when the French set piece appeared to have a slight edge. Busy in the tight.
Andrew Hore: 6
Got through his core tasks well, but wasn't the central figure at the breakdown he often is. Locked in a three-way battle for the No 2 jersey now.
Wyatt Crockett: 6
Subbed early in second half after fair first 40. Not quite as impressive as he'd been in the first two tests, but overall a strong series.
Tony Woodcock: 6
Played last 38 minutes and contributed to a steadier All Black scrum.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow: 7
Brought real energy and enthusiasm on his introduction soon after halftime and would have been happy he was able to raise the tempo with an extended run.
Keven Mealamu: 6
Played last 16 minutes and took care of what he had to.
Steven Luatua: 6
Nine solid minutes in test debut. Much better to come, for sure.
Charles Piutau: 6
Another to get first test cap late and slipped in one nice run in tidy seven minutes.
Matt Todd: 5
Third of the debutants, played last seven minutes but no chance to shine.
Beauden Barrett: 8
Fast developing a reputation as a superub. Played last two minutes and still managed second try in as many weeks with great run on to Ben Smith's perfectly weighted kick.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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