The All Blacks churned out an energetic and inspired performance this morning to claim the biggest playoff win in Rugby World Cup history.
The 62-13 defeat over France was their biggest win at the 2015 tournament, and alleviated all fears that the All Blacks haven’t been performing at their best.
Clinical execution, strong discipline and unparalleled skill left the French scratching their heads at every moment of the game.
While some experts might be hesitant to dish out the all elusive 10/10, some deserved it tonight. Below are the player ratings for all 23 players.
1. Wyatt Crockett – 5/10
Unfortunately, Crockett was the only player not to stamp his mark on the game. A few errors at the breakdown as well as giving away an easy penalty right in front of the sticks caused Steve Hansen to sub the tighthead prop after just 28 minutes.
2. Dane Coles – 8/10
Once again, Coles was electric. Quick hands out wide, commitment to the ruck and the ability to break tackles. A brilliant turnover that led to Savea’s third try and the heart of a champion. Having the pacey hooker out wide has proved very successful for the All Blacks.
3. Owen Franks – 8/10
Franks stepped up. First to the breakdown, cleaning out the French every time and allowing Aaron Smith more time and more clean ball. Also proved heavy in the scrum and made a few darts from the ruck.
4. Brodie Retallick – 9/10
What a performance. The young lock has continued to cement himself as the best in the world for his position. A beautiful first try off the back of a chargedown, a few key turnovers in the lineout as well as key support play for the rest of the forwards. Outstanding.
5. Sam Whitelock – 8/10
Whitelock, like Retallick, was everywhere. Solid in the lineouts, good on the kickoffs and a crucial player at the breakdown. Hard to fault his performance at all.
6. Jerome Kaino – 9/10
Kaino had a blinder. A try just after half-time capped off a brilliant game all round. He ran well, supported the forwards and won a few key turnovers.
7. Richie McCaw – 8/10
Richie once again lead from the front. Strong with ball in hand, disrupting the ruck at every opportunity and allowing his backs more time with the ball.
8. Kieran Read – 7/10
Not a bad outing from Kieran at all. A few dropped balls and miss-timed lineouts worked against him, but a great try under the sticks and great support play showed that he still has some left in the tank.
9. Aaron Smith – 9/10
Smith was unlucky not to grab a try this morning, but his performance was just as rewarding. Quick, fast ball to the backs, solid decision making and silky feet meant he set up more than just a few tries. Maybe not making the final pass, but he was involved in all but two of the All Blacks tries.
10. Dan Carter – 10/10
Carter was at his absolute best. Taking on the line, breaking tackles, offloading the ball and kicking well. 7 from 9 on conversions and kicking for touch with purpose. Carter is back.
11. Julian Savea – 10/10
Savea was unbelievable. The young winger scored another hattrick, his second of the tournament, and was duly named Man of the Match. He scored one of the tries of the tournament, if not of World Cup history and was everywhere on the park. Absolutely flawless.
12. Ma’a Nonu – 8/10
Nonu is looking as dangerous as ever. He broke the first tackle on almost every one of his runs. Unlucky not to score a try at the end but a good effort setting up his teammates, and his kicking game continues to improve.
13. Conrad Smith – 7/10
Classic Smith. Wasn’t a standout on the scoresheet, but was everywhere on the park. Strong running, good ball retention and the ability to give his outside backs some more space.
14. Nehe Milner-Skudder – 8/10
Electric as always. Nehe scored a scintillating try, further demonstrating his unparalleled speed and skill as he danced his way to the try line. Unlucky to come off at half-time with an injury, but looking dangerous and will be back for South Africa next weekend.
15. Ben Smith – 7/10
Smith was solid under the high ball. Something the All Blacks have struggled with over the course of the tournament. He supported well and always made sure he was in the right place at the right time. An error at the beginning which almost cost a try, and one or two positional errors means he doesn’t quite get a higher score.
16. Kevin Mealamu – 7/10
Not a bad showing from old Kev. Strong off the bench, good lineout throwing and some impressive tackles made him the perfect substitute for Coles.
17. Joe Moody – 9/10
Moody was phenomenal. Coming on after just 28 minutes, the young Cantab, flown over just days prior, played 50 minutes of unbelievable rugby. An amazing offload to Kerr-Barlow for an All Blacks try proved his talent, and his strength at the breakdown was nothing short of amazing.
18. Charlie Faumuina – 8/10
Faumuina was faultless. Coming on at the 51 minute mark, Faumuina made his presence known. A few big hits, strong physical presence at the breakdown, and a beautiful run and pass to set up Kieran Read under the sticks.
19. Victor Vito – 7/10
We only got to see 15 minutes of Vito, but his performance was solid. A few good tackles and some good runs.
20. Sam Cane – 8/10
McCaw’s worthy replacement. Cane came on and continued to apply the pressure at the breakdown. A few key tackles and a turnover that led to an All Blacks try.
21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow – 9/10
Substituting Aaron Smith is a hard task. Couple that with the questions surrounding the All Blacks depth at halfback, and Kerr-Barlow had a challenge on his hands. However, he slotted in perfectly. Scoring two tries and getting to the breakdown with speed, Kerr-Barlow proved his worth as an All Black.
22. Beaudan Barrett – 7/10
Not a terrible performance by Barrett, but certainly not his best. Two kicks that failed to gain many metres when the All Blacks were pinned back in their own 22 made things tough. Solid defense however and good support play.
23. Sonny-Bill Williams – 8/10
SBW at his finest. A beautiful offload to Nonu on a set play led to Kerr-Barlow’s first and another offload to Ben Smith which almost resulted in a try on the wing. Some sound tackling as well proves that Sonny-Bill is a real threat off the bench.
Team Rating – 9
A complete team performance that saw many questions answered. If the All Blacks can churn out another showing like that against South Africa, and carry that into the final, its hard seeing anyone being able to stand in their way.