The All Blacks are back to their unstoppable best with a first half performance of frightening quality, defeating the Wallabies 54-34 in Sydney on Saturday.
Australia looked completely shell-shocked but managed a decent second half performance by which time the score was already out of reach.
Here are how the players fared in another memorable Bledisloe Cup match.
1. Scott Sio 5
Good start in the scrum and a few bulldozing runs but tends to go missing for large chunks of the game and faded badly. Talented but inconsistent.
2. Stephen Moore 3
Such poor discipline from a man with over 100 caps giving away two stupid penalties in the first half.
Had no impact in the loose and was subbed off at half time for the more dynamic Polota-Nau. A pity to see a great like Moore have such a poor game.
3. Alan Alaalatoa 5
Almost identical impact to Sio. A good start and then blended into the background as the Aussie pack got dominated. Sekope Kepu offered much more around the park.
4. Rory Arnold 4
Tried hopelessly to imitate the All Black lock duo. For a big man he offered very little grunt as their pack was blasted out of the way in the first half. Has potential but needs a bit more fire and snarl going forward.
5. Adam Coleman 6
Lasted the full 80 and is another one who improved as the game went on. Punched a few holes around the fringes but will be disappointed that Retallick and Whitelock had so much influence in the first half.
6. Ned Hannigan 5
Missed a key clear out on Brodie Retallick when Australia were in a key position and looks too lightweight at this level. Worked hard clearing out rucks but offered very little with ball in hand. Will need to carry more to take the weight of Michael Hooper’s shoulders.
7. Michael Hooper 6
The usual intensity and work rate but looked desperate as the deficit grew. You could see the frustration in his eyes as the All Blacks dominated the Australian pack. Always give 100 per cent and never lacks for trying.
8. Sean McMahon 5
A worryingly quiet game from McMahon who when on form can be a powerful ball carrier. Completely anonymous in the first half to the point that it is hard to mention anything of note. Perhaps a move to number six with Timani at eight will give Australia more ballast.
9. Will Genia 6
Very clean service and when they had the ball he was sharp. Not at fault for the horrible first half defensive display but Phipps added more energy and urgency in the second half.
10. Bernard Foley 5
Was to blame for some poor restarts which didn’t allow his side to retain the ball after conceding and that was almost all we saw of him in the first half.
Marginally better in the second half as Beale, Kuridrani and Folau started to make inroads around him.
11. Henry Speight 7
Looked a bit lost defensively and came out of the line a couple of time. However, he grew into the game and had two decent breaks in the second half breaking 6 tackles. Such a hard runner but needs to come off his wing a bit more in order to be more effective.
12. Kurtley Beale 7
Has to be blamed for the defensive problems in midfield but had some lovely moments in the game. One fizzing line off Israel Folau and a try are proof that he is still a potent weapon for the Aussies.
13. Samu Kerevi 3
A horrible game for the youngster. Some bad defensive lapses that cost his team.
Caught In two minds on more than one occasion and was replaced by Kuridrani very early. Far too raw and needs to sort out his defence badly.
14. Curtis Rona 5
His try aside, this was an unconvincing debut from the league convert. Fell off a few tackles and didn’t offer himself enough. Will be lucky to start next week
15. Israel Folau 8
By far the most threatening Wallaby with ball in hand. A few great takes, always eats up metres and he is impossible to stop when he gets up a head of steam.
One of the best players on the pitch despite the score line. However, he will not want to watch back Rieko Ioane’s first try, burnt for pace.
1. Owen Franks 6
Had a few early wobbles at scrum time which will upset him but otherwise he was his usual industrious self, clearing out rucks and making sure Aaron Smith had the quick ball required.
2. Cody Taylor 6
Busy as usual in the loose and his hands are great for a hooker. Overshadowed by a few of the huge performances around him but will be happy with his days’ work. His throwing still looks a little shaky as the Lions found out, but no major issues.
3. Joe Moody 7
A seriously underrated player. Moody gets very little praise but his support work and endurance make him a key cog of the Kiwi pack. One uncharacteristic break in the first half was a sight to behold. Will be disappointed with a silly late penalty but a solid game from the Crsuaders prop.
4. Brodie Retallick 9
Absolutely monstrous first half. Made 2 handling errors later on in the game but that would be knit picking. Hard carries, soft hands, turnovers, the man is a beast. Another full 80-minute performance that had everything and shows why he is the best forward on the planet.
5. Sam Whitelock 7
Retallick’s partner in crime was on equally bestial form today. Retallick tends to grab the headlines but Whitelock is just important to the All Black machine. A high volume of carries, never misses a tackle and works his socks off. The pair are unstoppable.
6. Liam Squire 8
Carried with real intent and pumps his legs hard in the tackle. A spiky customer who made huge metres and did the dirty work as well. The intensity dropped a tad when he left the field which is testament to his performance.
7. Sam Cane 6
One of the quieter men wearing black today. Ensured the backs had quick, clean ball as always but seemed to go missing when the Aussies mounted their comeback. The debate over the seven shirt has not been put to bed and Ardie Savea is still a far more dynamic option.
8. Kieran Read 7
You know you are getting composure, leadership and decisiveness with Read but today we saw a little extra aggression and physicality. His thundering hit on Kurtley Beale was an example of the added bite in his performance today. Perhaps guilty of complacency in the second half as performance levels dipped.
9. Aaron Smith 9
The perfect pace setter. Knows exactly when to speed up the tempo and his flat pass to Crotty before half time was a thing of beauty. Two assists and immaculate service. Between him and Conor Murray for the best 9 in the world tag.
10. Beauden Barrett 7
Normally Barrett is the main attraction but today he took a back seat role as some of the men outside him flourished. Kicked his goals and did very little kicking out of hand as he realised that spreading it wide was the right thing to do against the porous Aussie midfield.
11. Rieko Ioane 8
Absolutely lethal. Frighteningly quick and looks like he is going to score every time he gets the ball. Slowly becoming the best finisher in the world and the more he scores the more the hype builds. Speight definitely had the more impressive second half but by that time the damage was done.
12. Sonny Bill Williams 8
Back to his brilliant best today. Generally lauded for his offloading ability, people tend to forget just how hard he is to handle in the contact area. A couple of breaks and a try to his name show that he has put the red card against the Lions behind him. Had much less fun dealing with Kuridrani once Kerevi left the field but his first half performance was of sheer quality.
13. Ryan Crotty 8
Looks more and more like Conrad Smith with every game in an All Black shirt. Content with supporting the blockbuster names around him, Crotty is becoming an excellent link man in the Kiwi midfield, not to mention scoring 2 tries himself. A top class showing and New Zealand will hope is injury is nothing to worry about.
14. Ben Smith 7
Another neat performance today without standing out. The normal ridiculously low error count was on show once more and his knack for knowing exactly when to step off his wing and when to offer support is why he is world class. A tidy performance.
15. Damian McKenzie 8
Made over 100 metres with ball in hand and trusted his attacking instinct. The game suited his style perfectly and when he gets his running game going he is a nightmare to handle. Electric as usual, it will be interesting to see if the Boks will target him more in the air. A big tournament ahead.
Max Hamid, Pundit Arena
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