Player ratings: Dogged defence

Sat, 19 Nov 2016 20:15
Large malakai fekitoa celebrates all blacks try 800

OPINION: They may have come into the match claiming the underdog tag but it was the amount of fight they showed on defence that enabled them to bag a 21-9 victory over Ireland in Dublin.

It was just reward after losing their winning streak to the same opponents in Chicago a few weeks ago but they were made to work hard for it.

Most of their attacks were foiled and were on the back foot for long periods but they maintained their discipline and kept cool heads to grind out the all-important victory.

Tauriq Ebrahim rates the New Zealand players!

15 Ben Smith
Attacking chances were few but he crossed the advantage line more often than not. He may have fumbled a few balls but he sure knows how to tackle.
6/10

14 Israel Dagg
His awareness of his positioning on the field is second to none as he consistently manages to keep the ball alive despite being under pressure most of the time.
7/10

13 Malakai Fekitoa
Got sent to the naughty chair for a high tackle but was otherwise pretty decent on defence to go with a few clean breaks which led to two tries.
7/10

12 Anton Lienert-Brown
Had some rare chances to carry the ball and proved just how strong he is to maintain possession. The one thing that stood out though was that he can hold onto his tackles.
7/10

11 Julian Savea
He may not have been at his try-scoring best on the night but he certainly made his impact by bulldozing a few Irishmen.
6/10

10 Beauden Barrett
He is quite simply the complete package. Perfect passing, excellent judgement on kicks and an elusive runner.
9/10

9 Aaron Smith
Showed an immense amount of determination to make up for receiving a yellow card by putting in the hard yards on defence, although he could have maybe been a bit more creative on attack.
6/10

8 Kieran Read (captain)
He may not have had a massive attacking game but he certainly made up for it with a massive defensive performance and strong work at the breakdown.
7/10

7 Sam Cane
Spent just 16 minutes on the field before leaving with an ankle injury.

6 Liam Squire
He must have a vice grip as he never let one tackle slip through his fingers and when you combine that with his ability to slow the opposition's ball down at the breakdown, he is quite the player.
7/10

5 Sam Whitelock
Defensive performance worthy of praise and a general all-round workhorse effort.
7/10

4 Brodie Retallick
Not only did he make a nuisance of himself at the line-outs but his work rate on defence was outstanding.
8/10

3 Owen Franks
It was in all probability a match he would like to forget and come tomorrow, he would know just how much of a fight he was in.
5/10

2 Dane Coles
He continues to change the way people view the role of a hooker as he keeps on transforming the
8/10

1 Joe Moody
He was certainly not afraid to get stuck into the opposition as he was basically forced to play off the back foot.
6/10

Replacements:

16 Codie Taylor (on for Coles, 68th min)
Not enough time to be rated.

17 Wyatt Crockett (on for Moody, 49th min)
It was pretty tough having to come on and play a defensive role, although he was not really in the thick of things.
4/10

18 Charlie Faumuina (on for Franks, 52nd min)
He looked to impose himself on proceedings but it failed to materialise effectively.
4/10

19 Scott Barrett (on for Squire, 68th min)
Not enough time to be rated.

20 Ardie Savea (on for Cane, 18th min)
What a revelation he has been and on a night where had to stand in early in the game, he was in the thick of it all for the majority of the game. Strong on the ball, yet silky at the breakdowns.
7/10

21 TJ Perenara (on for Smith, 58th min)
Can be an elusive runner when given a little too much space and was influential in handing Fekitoa his second try.
6/10

22 Aaron Cruden (on for J Savea, 58th min)
Stood up to the defensive challenge and was instrumental in keeping the team calm in a high pressure environment.
6/10

23 Waisake Naholo (on for Smith, 73rd min)
Not enough time to be rated.

By Tauriq Ebrahim
@Tauriq365
@rugby365com