AN insignificant speed bump or an empire in decline?
Here’s how the All Blacks players rated in the shock 23-18 Bledisloe Cup loss to the Wallabies at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
Damian McKenzie — 6.5
Decent shift from the pint-sized fullback, who moved to five-eighth in place of Lima Sopoaga on the hour mark.
Wasn’t able to break through for a defining play but got plenty of touches, made some quality kicks and was largely sound under the high ball.
Had no chance of stopping Marika Koroibete with the tryline in sight.
Waisake Naholo — 7.5
Dangerous in limited opportunities but went looking for work when possible.
Scorched in for a try and is also hard to move over the ball.
Surely did enough to retain his spot on the right wing with so many other options unavailable.
Ryan Crotty — 5
Disappointing night from one of New Zealand’s most reliable performers.
Some handling errors as the backline often looked out of sync with Beauden Barrett missing.
May have opened the door for Anton Lienert-Brown?
Sonny Bill Williams — 8.5
Silenced the critics with one of his best games of the season.
Williams was in a punishing mood both with ball and without and gained revenge on Kurtley Beale with one massive hit in particular.
Also got his offload game going with one dud kick his only regret.
Rieko Ioane — 6
Stunning speed to score a try but will be disappointed with his overall performance.
Dealt with kicks just fine and admittedly it wasn’t a night for wingers but Ioane could have tried to inject himself more often than he did.
Still, at just 20 the world is his oyster.
Lima Sopoaga — 5
Has waited a long time for his second Test start but won’t remember it fondly.
Sopoaga never really asserted his authority on the match and got too kick happy.
His fumble led to Reece Hodge’s early try and he was substituted on the hour mark.
Aaron Smith — 6
Played OK and his passing was mostly crisp but didn’t quite have his usual spark.
Didn’t have the zest for his trademark quick taps and the All Blacks’ tempo lifted upon TJ Perenara’s introduction.
Kieran Read — 6.5
Got through plenty of work and had a few classy touches but the Wallabies’ back-row had more edge than New Zealand’s.
The All Blacks also had some discipline problems while Read was unable to get his side to play with their usual patience and precision.
Sam Cane — 7.5
A strong overall game although he will be kicking himself for a soft knock-on with time up.
Not a massive man but hits hard and with unerring accuracy.
Put plenty of pressure on the Wallabies breakdown.
Liam Squire — 6
Relished the contact as per usual but didn’t make the gamechanging plays of which he is capable.
Still the All Blacks’ best option at No 6 with Vaea Fifita and Jerome Kaino still waiting in line.
Scott Barrett — 5.5
Has a huge future but this wasn’t his best game as Australia’s pack played with more desperation and urgency in the second half.
Brodie Retallick was missed.
Sam Whitelock — 6
Another solid shift from the Crusaders captain, who was seen laying down the law passionately in the All Blacks’ post-game huddle.
Would have been fascinating to hear what he was saying.
Nepo Laulala — 6
Has stepped in seamlessly for the injured Owen Franks but the Wallabies were able to halt a previously dominant Kiwi scrum at Suncorp.
Had a couple of good carries but the coaching staff will still want to see more output in general play.
Dane Coles — 5.5
One botched throw and Coles hasn’t been making his usual X-factor plays in the black jersey since making his return from a long spell on the sidelines with concussion.
Confrontational and involved in a running battle with the Wallabies bruisers.
Kane Hames — 5
Left the field and didn’t return after a head knock.
Up until that point his performance was neither here nor there.
Codie Taylor — 6.5
Looked sharp off the bench and is starting to pressure Coles for the No 2 jersey.
Wyatt Crockett — 5
Put himself about but lacked accuracy in his work.
Ofa Tu’ungafasi — 6
Is growing more comfortable in the Test arena and made some huge hits but also gave away a crucial penalty.
Patrick Tuipulotu — 4
An error was his most memorable contribution.
Ardie Savea — 5
Has fallen down the pecking order and wasn’t able to spark a come-from-behind win.
TJ Perenara — 7
Terrific energy off the bench and deserves another start in the not too distant future.
Anton Lienert-Brown — N/A
David Havili — N/A