All Blacks player ratings: Ardie Savea, Jordie Barrett stand up in Springboks loss
OPINION: The All Blacks have finished their Rugby Championship campaign with a late 31-29 loss to the Springboks on the Gold Coast.
In a see-sawing test, the All Blacks scored three tries but found themselves under pressure against the bruising South African pack
Here are Stuff’s player ratings from the 101st test between the fierce rivals.
Jordie Barrett: Almost the matchwinner again, in more ways than one. Nailed another late penalty under huge pressure – just seconds after he had won the ball back from an All Blacks restart, as he had done for most of the night. Hit the line hard on counterattack, and he has taken ownership of that No 15 jersey. 9
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Sevu Reece: Outstanding finish in the 12th minute that showed his explosive qualities. As they did in the 2019 Rugby World Cup encounter, the All Blacks identified space out wide with the crossfield kick. Reece looked sharp, but saw too few opportunities. 6.5
Anton Lienert-Brown: Denied what would have been a stunning try when tackled just before the line after an excellent Jordie Barrett break. Not at his sharpest after a spell out, and outpointed by opposite Lukhanyo Am, who produced one of the great offloads in the first half. 5
David Havili: Wild early pass to Codie Taylor put the hooker under pressure, and the Springboks pounced to score the game’s first try. Found Springboks strongman Damian de Allende a handful, especially in direct one-on-one physical contests. Tough night, and was replaced after 66 minutes. 4
Rieko Ioane: His time in the midfield has made him a more complete player, but this performance showed once again he is most effective on the left wing. Produced a great offload to set up Savea’s first-half try, but like Reece he didn’t get enough of the ball. 6.5
Beauden Barrett: Some of his early high kicks – dare we call them Springboks-esque? – caused opposition No 15 Willie le Roux nightmares, and then he unleashed his running and offload game to brilliantly engineer the All Blacks’ second try. Largely excellent, but made a bad kick error as the pressure built in the second half, and was replaced by Mo’unga with 15 minutes to go. 7.5
Brad Weber: This was a big test from the Chiefs halfback. Was extremely quick to the ruck and his distribution was just as fast. Picked up a crucial first-half try from a Springboks error and really put his hand up for a start in the big tests to come in the northern hemisphere. 7
Luke Jacobson: Good 50 minutes. Delivered in spades on the defensive side of the game and a nice pick and drive was one of the few moments that the All Blacks forwards made some metres up the middle. 6.5
Ardie Savea (c): Outstanding – the pick of the All Blacks alongside Jordie Barrett. Incredibly tough over the ball and explosive from the back of the scrum when he moved to No 8 in the second half. Didn't deserve to lose, and the hurt was obvious in his gracious post-match speech. 9
Akira Ioane: Started very well, but was fortunate that a missed a tackle on rampaging Boks hooker Bongi Mbonambi didn’t result in a try. An improvement from last week with more impact around the paddock and excellent lineout work at the tail to initiate Ardie Savea try. However, the breakdown belonged to South Africa. 6.5
Scott Barrett: For the second week in a row, the All Blacks locks were tested to the absolute limit – and perhaps beyond – by the formidable South African pairing of Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth. Barrett lost his share of battles, although his aerial work at the restarts was clean, and he disrupted the Springboks lineout to assist Brad Weber’s try. Off at halftime. 5.5
Brodie Retallick: The big man found the yards hard to make up the middle against the green wall. The All Blacks also struggled at the lineout, maul and breakdown, so the spotlight will go again go on the tight five, where Sam Whitelock’s absence is being keenly felt. Emptied the tank, but plaudits must go to the South Africans. 6
Nepo Laulala: Still attracts the odd unnecessary penalties, and wasn’t as prominent with the ball in hand as he has been in previous tests. Missed a couple of tackles as well as the Springboks pack got on top. 5
Codie Taylor: All Blacks pack struggled to assert itself, and Taylor was rarely seen in the wider channels. Suffered by comparison to Springboks man mountain Malcolm Marx, who made a huge difference off the bench. 4.5
Joe Moody: Made a handling error when the All Blacks were in a great position, while the scrum was under pressure at times on the Springboks’ feed – particularly when the Springboks rolled on an entirely new front before halftime. 5
Asafo Aumua: Looked OK with ball in hand, but the All Blacks’ set-piece was under enormous stress in the second half. Learning experience against Marx, possibly the world’s best, and conceded a crucial late penalty. 4.5
George Bower: Won an important ruck penalty, and offered a bit more than Moody around the paddock during his 23 minutes. Still, the set-piece pressure can't be ignored. 4.5
Ofa Tuungafasi: Reasonable last quarter, but the replacements couldn’t wrestle back the momentum from South Africa. 5
Patrick Tuipulotu: Couldn't remedy the lineout issues after replacing Barrett at halftime. Carried hard, but the story of the test was the damage caused by the Springboks’ replacements. 5
Ethan Blackadder: Plenty of energy in his half an hour, and made nine tackles without a miss. 6
TJ Perenara: Replaced Weber after 58 minutes. Threw a hospital pass to McKenzie that ironically led to a fortunate All Blacks penalty, but work wasn’t as snappy as Weber's. 5
Richie Mo’unga: Attacked the line well, and lovely hanging restart allowed Barrett to regain the ball in the dramatic final minutes. 5.5
Damian McKenzie: Found himself on the wing again for the closing stages, but are the All Blacks better with another midfield option on the bench? 5
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