Wales 10-33 New Zealand: Player Ratings

15. Leigh Halfpenny – 6
Coughed up one off-load in the first half, but Halfpenny looked more dangerous with ball in hand than he has over the past fortnight, displaying skillful link-play when joining the line. A last-gasp tackle on a rampaging Julian Savea deserves mention, too.

14. Alex Cuthbert – 5
Bad positioning saw the Cardiff Blue trip over the touchline from a routine New Zealand clearance and there were some hapless moments in defence as Conrad Smith snaked into space ahead of him. That said, Cuthbert remains an exceptional attacker and, aside from his late score, there were glimpses of speed as he looked for work in fractured play.

13. Jonathan Davies – 5
A tale of Jekyll and Hyde befell Davies on his return to the international fray. One delicious clean break brought Cardiff to its feet in the first period and his elusive running was very welcome after the bluntness of Wales’ recent defeats. However, the Scarlet’s tackling was a different story – five misses is simply not good enough.

12. Jamie Roberts – N/A
Worryingly, Roberts departed early once more, this time due to a hip problem. He needs to stay fit to be considered for the trip to Australia.

11. Liam Williams – 5½
Williams’ flowing locks channel JPR, and a couple of wholehearted hits in the opening minutes did, too – especially the one that stopped Israel Dagg in his tracks. Admirable enthusiasm and verve with ball in hand as well, although shaky under the high ball.

10. Rhys Priestland – 4
The cheer that erupted upon Priestland’s substitution was cruel – in the brief moments he was on the front foot, there were some decisive moments. Even so, infuriating lapses in composure remained. A pair of missed touch-finders was almost embarrassing.

9. Mike Phillips – 6
If Phillips lacked a bit of subtlety around the fringes – getting caught at the base a couple of times by the All Blacks’ razor-sharp back row (who had Craig Joubert in their pocket) – he made up for it with ferocity in defence and a whole lot more, including a couple of surprise line-out takes.

1. Paul James – 5
Knocked on comically with New Zealand in trouble and had a couple of scrumagging problems opposite Owen Franks, but James is a big-hearted bruiser that Warren Gatland can rely on. Injured himself whipping out a dive-pass in the third quarter, which aptly sums up his effort.

2. Matthew Rees – 4
Largely accurate throwing could not mask Rees’ lack of dynamism around the field, something that was underlined further the energy that Ken Owens brought from the bench.

3. Aaron Jarvis – N/A
A victim of the visitors’ aggression at the breakdown, tighthead Jarvis was denied a chance to test himself against the best after twisting a knee in the opening stages.

4. Bradley Davies – N/A
Davies’ evening ended swiftly thanks to a sickening cheap-shot from Andrew Hore. His burly power was missed.

5. Luke Charteris – 5
The Perpignan giant so often splits opinion and this was another occasion that failed to convince, despite consistency at set-piece and the odd contribution in the loose. Easily out-played by the pairing of Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano.

6. Ryan Jones – 4
Simply overwhelmed in the face of New Zealand’s menacing pack, Jones was forced backwards in all facets of play upon moving to lock following Davies’ fate. The autumn absence of Dan Lydiate has been costly.

7. Sam Warburton – 6½
Much better from the skipper, who figured prominently in the positive aspects of Wales’ performance. Whether passing, taking line-outs, carrying hard, or scavenging on the deck, Warburton was far more influential. Wrongly pinged by Craig Joubert for a first-half penalty and overrun by Richie McCaw, but made a step towards redemption. May get flak for kicking to touch from penalties, but that was the only way Wales were going to get close – it wasn’t his fault that Priestland hoofed it dead.

8. Toby Faletau – 6
Many more clashes with the world’s best lie in wait for this impressive 22 year-old. Made 80 of the hardest metres in town and tackled his heart out. Can hold his head high and hope for a final flourish against the Wallabies.

Replacements: With the Millennium Stadium surface resembling a battlefield full of fallen soldiers throughout, each of Gatland’s back-up men were called upon. Most enhanced their reputations, too – Scott Andrews was industrious, Owens effective and Aaron Shingler persistent. Direct running lines meant Scott Williams was the best of the bunch, though, with the centre also benefiting from a bizarre 13-man line-out to notch Wales’ opening try.

New Zealand

15.Israel Dagg – 8½, 14. Cory Jane – 6, 13. Conrad Smith – 8, 12. Ma’a Nonu – 7, 11. Julian Savea – 8, 10. Aaron Cruden – 7½, 9. Aaron Smith – 8; 1. Tony Woodcock – 6, 2. Andrew Hore – 7, 3 Owen Franks – 7, 4. Luke Romano – 7½, 5. Sam Whitelock – 7, 6. Liam Messam – 8, 7. Richie McCaw – 9, 8. Kieran Read – 7.

On his 115th appearance in black, Richie McCaw grabbed the loudest plaudits. There are absolutely no superlatives left to attach to the peerless openside, and Saturday evening featured another all-action masterclass – albeit helped by his familiarity with Joubert’s whistle-blowing style.

Elsewhere, the All Blacks’ tight-five were teak-tough, allowing Liam Messam to roam around spoiling Welsh attacks. At halfback, Aaron Smith and Aaron Cruden produced spark and skill in equal measure, while Conrad Smith was superb outside of that, bringing his exceptional back three into the game. Combining to devastating effect, Israel Dagg and Julian Savea will terrorise the Test arena together for the next decade.

By Charlie Morgan (@CharlieFelix)

38 thoughts on “Wales 10-33 New Zealand: Player Ratings

  1. Fair scores. I was at the match and if we’d played like that in our last two games we’d have won them. We were much more energetic at the breakdown, we kicked away less ball and we started crafting moves. Basic execution still let us down, our confidence is at an almighty low, those little pops rarely go to hand when everyone is up tight.

    However, playing decently enough was always going to make us look distinctly 4th best against the ABs.

    Have to mention it – the Kiwi’s are, what, 20% better than everyone else right now? So why do they feel the need to make up about 5% of that from being the dirtiest cheats I’ve seen on the field in a long time. Late hits, lying on the ball, sly digs, petulance. All helped by the comically inept officals and Kiwi Joubert. The passage of play where they knocked on, he called advantage, they got the ball off us so he shouted advantage over, then we knocked and they got the scrum summed up a lot about his game. And the linesman who missed the assault on Davies needs to be sacked. None of this (well … would playing against 14 men for 79 mins made any difference?) changed the final result, so this isn’t “we were cheated out of a win” whining, it’s just calling it straight that the Kiwi’s are both the best and the dirtiest team in world rugby.

    1. “It was ever thus” Brighty. Yes I don’t see why they need to cheat, when they are so superior. Like I said in a previous post, with the way NZ play rugby they should be rugby’s version of Brazil – a team you love to watch, and would support if they aren’t playing your team. There’s “dirty” and then there’s “cheap” – they are often both – I recall Mealamu headbutting a prone Lewis Moody a few years back – but he had a “good record” (i.e. had not been caught before) so was virtually let off!

      I thought Joubert just hated England? But considering your comments and the w/c fianl clearly hates all NH teams!

      1. The AB played to the ref, if they are not penalised then any Team including Wales would do the same – can’t blame the AB or does the defeat seem better if we do

        1. Getting away with punching a man in the head from behind isn’t playing to the ref. You can actually blame the ABs for cheating – the ref not seeing it does not make it blameless. Nobody thinks it makes the defeat any easier to take, we’re just discussing talking points in the game, and one of them is the amount that the ABs cheat when they are already the best team on the park. It’s interesting. It does cheapen them, makes them dis-likable, creates bad feeling – none of this makes the result any different but it is part of watching sport. If you are going to be dirty (and the emphasis here is on the dirty) cheats then you’re going to get called as such, regardless of whether you are also brilliant at rugby.

          1. Would we as a nation complain if we won the World Cup and ranked 1 in the world by using the AB tactics and playing the ref to their advantage -SW needed to be more vocal for a start

  2. Liam Williams is a world class player. I hope he does better in the Australia game. He put in some heavy hits even though he was the lightest guy on the pitch. It’s a shame that he was shaky under the high ball.

  3. I think Wales were better than their previous games, but not a lot. Halfpenny and Faletau were the only players that stood out for me again.

    Poorly officiated though, both ways. Too many times did I see players – from both sides – lying on the ball, diving into rucks, in at the side. I saw Warburton deemed a cheat at one end of the park for covering the ball on his knees at a ruck and a hero for doing it under his own posts when you have to be looking for a yellow. Remarkably though, this is the first time in memory I’ve watched New Zealand play and not spent the entire time swearing that McCaw is constantly offside cheating.

  4. Wales were much better in this game, and I agree that if they’d played like that in the last two, they probably would have won. However they didn’t!

    On that showing I would think that Cuthbert, Halfpenny, Davies and Williams will all be in the Lions squad, although of the pack, only Warburton (better game) and Faletau deserve to go. Rees might go due to lack of other options, especially with Tom Youngs being found out for his lineout throwing.

    Can’t see how Hore can get a 7 when pure thuggery could have left his team with 14 men for most of the match. At least England won’t have to face him. Agree with Brighty that AB’s are the best team in the world and also the dirtiest. They quite often seem to come into a game and target a key player of the opposition and try to take him out early on. Refs (and linesmen) need to wise up to this.

    1. “However they didn’t!” – and how frustrating is that. Can Gatland being back for 6 days really have made that much of a difference?

      It’s also a shame that Hook came on so late – did that make the difference for us in attack or was it (and I tend towards this) just the usual thing of us finally nicking one or two at the end because the other team are relaxing as they are home and dry.

      So given the slight improvement I think this weekend coming is the game that’ll sum up the AIs for us. Win this and we’ll have seen us sink but then climb back up somewhat. Lose it and we’ve got a long winter to wait through – I can’t wait for everyone to keep telling me how the Grand Slam champs are overrated, lucky, have worse players than Ireland, etc. :-) The proof is in the winning – we’ll find out who the best NH team is next 6 nations, not before.

      1. The Grand Slam champs are overrated! ;-)

        Sorry, couldn’t help myself. However trying to be relatively objective, I think we can have a fair gauge as to where teams are by their performance against common opponents. Next weekend will give us a fair idea where England and Wales stand against each other. Can’t make my mind up about Ireland, but they’ve definitely unearthed some younger talent, so I think that they are going to be there or thereabouts in the 6N. Scotland and Italy will battle it out for the wooden spoon (probably) despite me thinking that both had improved and France are France. Capable of beating the best one day and then capable of beating themselves on another.

        1. Staggy, I think some conclusions can be drawn but it too often goes over the top e.g. the type that always starts with “See, I told you Wales have been overrated for years and that Ireland/England/Scotland are actually better…” is always daft because, for example, Ireland haven’t won anything in the last two years, nor got as far as Wales in the WC (and Wales got that far by beating Ireland). I know I’m opening myself up for abuse here but this weekend for example, are Ireland really 40 points better than Wales given what they did to Argentina? Can Argentina’s performance this weekend (17 missed tackles in the first half!) compare what what they did to us? I think the truth is muddier – right now Wales are in a rut, Ireland aren’t, but if we played each other I know who I’d be backing.

          1. As you know, I’m not one of the ones to say that Wales have been overrated generally as I thought that they deserved to get where they did in the WC and they did enough to win the 6N.

            However in 6 months or so they have slipped from the level that they were playing at. Some of it loss of form (Warburton/Roberts/Phillips), some of it injuries (too many to name), and some of it coaching (Howley). I’m not saying that they can’t win the 6N as most of the above can change and Wales will play better, but at the moment if 6N was played now, I can’t look beyond France winning, with Wales, Ireland and England in the mix for the runners up spot.

          2. I agree, France top team in the NH right now. I’m not so sure about Scotland and Italy being sig. behind though? Tonga could have been a blip, the 3 tries against NZ could show some optimism? Similarly the Italy score against Aus on the weekend…

  5. We should get over being slated for “sour grapes”, “chips-on-our-shoulders” etc. once and for all. Anyone who seriously believes we’re playing on a level field is deluded, and we can’t expect the winning side to point out what’s not fair. I say let’s carry on “whingeing” and to hell with them.

    New Zealand are miles better than us. They deserved to win handsomely on Saturday. If they had played fair – or if the officials had done their jobs properly and impartially – then the All Blacks would have still won handsomely, by something like 26-17, and we’d have nothing to whinge about. So, it wouldn’t even cost anybody anything to shut us up!

    1. Rob, agree with you completely. Be careful though, the Kiwi’s employ a crack team of internet search agents to uncover any online disparaging of their team. I can’t wait to be called a “whinging pom” :-).

          1. I’m sure that the original POM’s were British although it did occur to me that you might have pointed out that most people use the term Whinging poms for the English! Another unfair stereotype from all those countries that we successfully colonised and made part of our long gone British/English Empire!

          2. Staggy, but when you say colonised there are a few of us down West who include us in the “colonised” category rather than the “colonisers” – hence our assumption that pom is English as we’re just as oppressed by them as all of the other colonies ….

            (I do hope everyone realises that this is all light hearted ribbing and doesn’t start some awful argument).

  6. What on earth happened to Priestland to leave him playing so badly?

    Thought Joubert had a very poor game indeed.

    Loved the 14 man Welsh line-out. Fantastic

  7. Enjoyable game. When there is no second row cover on the bench made the attack on Davies appear as premeditated as the Lions BOD takeout. Sadly the depth of the player pool in NZ means a ban is no penalty to the team.

    A real shame Priestland had a shocker, particularly the missed kicks to touch as I think the 13 man lineout thing is the sort of tactic that could have unsettled the ABs if deployed earlier.

    Hope the Welsh can turn the Wallabies over next week, who appear to be the new French as we have no idea which side will turn up at the moment.

  8. Wales are a class team they have no problem beating northen hempishere sides but when it comes to the big sides they miss out ever so slightly (Australia 3 test matches). To be grandslam champions you need to play very well when competing against Ireland, England and France but do the nations have what it takes to beat these sides, im sure in a couple of years we will be able to compete properly, Wales have great new players which everyone is waiting to see the squad against Australia as its always close, i have been to watch these 2 sides in action on shanes tribute day, it was awsome to watch it wont disapoint, but we expected nothing different against new zealand it was just a chance to develop their skills. Good ratings

  9. And did anyone notice the foul?
    i mean the one where hore hooked bradley davies.
    Hore hooks davies= red card
    it had to be, the ref could easily got that off the sideline ref. It wasnt like it was unseeable it literally was knocked out cold and if i had to rate him he would be a 2.Wales are having too many injuries latley and this isnt helping!!!

  10. Not sure what game you were all watching, Wales were inept again, poor tactical play, appalling tackling at crucial times, not taking points on offer, poor ball retention, knock on rate pathetic – where was the improvement. As for the AB cheating then that’s the ref and linemen to sort out, you play to the ref – lets blame others for our poor performance and then we can pretend we are a ok side – we are far from it.

    1. Amathus … and yet despite being inept we lost to the best team in the world 3 tries to 2. A margin of 23 points. Unusual for us to have missed our conversions as well…

      So I think we were better than we have been. Nowhere near good enough but better than we have been. Nobody has even dreamed of blaming the ref so I do not know where you are getting that from. We all know that with a bit of decent reffing, linesman spotting the cheap hit, it might have reduced the deficit to 12 or 15 points instead, but still a large deficit.

      Nobody pretends we are ok, but we’re not going to come on here every week and try and say we did nothing decent.

      1. Blighty,As Grand Slam winners and some pundits rating this Team as world class i expected alot more from the last 5 games, Howley certainly has not helped neither have the performances of our 4 regions but i still expected this Welsh Team to have more of a back bone, be competent and show flair and be tactical aware. I fear if we continue on this downward spiral we could quite easily be bottom of next 6 Nations – it seems to be history repeating itself and =raising it’s ugly head again in it’s 2-3 yr cycle.

  11. A better performance but still lacking in intelligent creative attacking. The All Blacks are the best in the world at the moment but kicking the ball and giving them possession is inviting counter attack. Priestland should be “rested”. I was impressed by Liam Williams attitude and Charteris also earned another start.

    1. i’d have called that as a red card TBH, it caused a far more serious injury than many recent contentious red cards…

  12. Bradley Davies will think twice about running interference again. Hore should have realised that it was a Pom he was whacking so should have held back a bit. For that error of judgement and on the basis of what has been dished out to Ritchie McCaw over the years anything more than a week or two off would be manifestly unfair for Hore. Get over it. “It ain’t tiddly winks”.

    1. Bingo! As predictable as an early NZ exit in a non-NZ world cup, we get the old “man up!” argument. Yep, Hore’s a real man clocking Bradley from behind. I pity a country who has fans that think it’s hardman style to hit people from behind. Doesn’t surprise me though having seen a lot of NZ rugby.

      “Dished out to Richie McCaw” – oh, the poor love. How does he cope? Ha hah ha.

    2. What an idiotic comment. Does this mean that we can KO any AB that runs “interference” in a game of rugby. The Ab’s wouldn’t have anyone left by half time given their record. Hope you put this comment up for a laugh to see what reaction you got!

      1. This will be one of those pointless circular arguments we cannot win – we know it was thuggish and cowardly behaviour, but simply by saying that we, in the eyes of NZ fans, confirm that we are big jessies who do not understand that it is “not tiddlywinks”.

    3. Hore is a real man isn’t he – can’t even apologise for such a cowardly act, even your NZ press are condoning his actions as shameful – cowardly and are slating his actions more then the british press – maybe you lot need to “man up” and go “toe to toe” but problably a little to manly

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