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Player Ratings: Bledisloe Three

Player Ratings: Bledisloe Three

It’s a bit late but here they are — the player ratings from the third and final trans-Tasman clash of 2012.

What a game it was. If you’re one of those people who think you need tries to have entertainment, give yourself an uppercut.

The Wallabies were rank outsiders and no one expected them to get close, let alone draw the game. Even watching those last 10 minutes again a few days later was intense. At the time it was heart attack material. The intensity, the scoreline, the defence and the passion were what Test rugby is all about.

I could pretend that Saturday’s game has left us all at G&GR so breathless that we couldn’t possibly get around to watching it again without fear of aneurysm. The truth is I said I would do it and then promptly forgot. I guess you get what you pay for.


Player Rating  Comments
Benn Robinson 7 Really coming back to his best after a fairly quiet 2012. Scrum looked good with him on and while he’s not the most mobile, that’s not his job.
Tatafu Polota-Nau 6 Played almost another full game (72min), and played hard. Doesn’t get enough credit for the minutes he plays and the style he plays them. Lost the ball in contact too often and one lineout almost lost the game for the Wallabies.
James Slipper 6 Looks like a solid starting option rather than a second-stringer. Would not be surprised to see him retain his spot for the Spring tour.
Sitaleki Timani 6 Didn’t play a huge amount, going off with a hamstring (?) complaint. Has improved a lot this season but didn’t have a chance to show a whole lot in this one.
Nathan Sharpe (c) 7 Sharpie is a leader and has shown it time and time again this year – it’s no coincidence some of the Wallabies’ gutsiest wins have been with him at the helm. Still gets through a huge amount of work with the only blot being a couple of penalties and high carries.
Scott Higginbotham 6 Good again, and while he got cited twice he got under Richie’s skin – and putting McCaw off his game is key to rattling the ABs. The method wasn’t subtle but it worked.
Michael Hooper 6 Probably his worst game, but still not bad. His breakdown work was nullified but he made a lot of carries and is always strong in contact. Getting sent off for a late hit was pretty dumb but he’s young and won’t make the mistake again.
Wycliff Palu 6 Didn’t look like he hadn’t played in three months. Real solid hitout and got over the advantage line and even chucked in a sidestep for good measure. Now just please stay fit!
Nick Phipps 6 Gets widely panned but isn’t as bad as some think. His instinct is to play quick at the expense of accuracy. Not all bad but still lacking in polish and a big step down from Willy G.
Kurtley Beale 8 Growing into his role at 10 and looking like getting back to his best. Took the right option almost every time and came close to busting the AB line a number of times. A few more games and he could well be at 10 for good.
Adam Ashley-Cooper 7 Didn’t get much chance with the ball, but made good tackles, had great line speed and chased kicks hard. Could have scored after 20 seconds with a charge down. Only blot was dropping a sitter of a high ball.
Pat McCabe 4 Not his best game. Dropped a few balls and didn’t run as straight as he usually does, sliding just a bit too much. Something to be said for swapping him and Tapuai.
Ben Tapuai 6 Fairly quiet but for a couple of very good runs. Still has close to zero Test experience and has shown glimpses of what he’s capable of.
Nick Cummins 6 The Honey Badger was fired up! Had the crazy eye going through the haka and maintained the rage. Put solid hits on and, like Taps, showed enough to deserve another shot.
Mike Harrris 8 Probably his best game in gold. Slotted goals from everywhere and made some good runs. Getting points on the board is so, so crucial in these games and Mikeymike did everything that was asked of him. For that he gets G&GR Man of the Match.
James Hanson 5 Had a short but sweet debut, only had about 10 minutes but didn’t put a foot wrong.
Sekope Kepu 4 First game back for a while and didn’t look too bad except for giving away the penalty that snuffed out our chances of winning. A bit harsh, but hard to overlook.
Kane Douglas 7 Unsung hero in this Test, was key to getting the ABs on the back foot at the breakdown, shifting bodies like Dan Vickerman and showing the mongrel we often lack. More experience will mean more better.
Dave Dennis 5 Gets through a lot in tight, and ended up in the second row with Gill and Hooper on. Would’ve preferred to see him at no. 6 with Douglas and Sharpe at lock.
Liam Gill 5 Did well in his stint, but I’m still not sure about playing two opensides – do we play three when Poey gets back?
Brett Sheehan 7 Didn’t play too much but showed spark, secured a turnover from a held-up maul and rescued the ball a couple of times in the Wallabies’ 900 phase attack at the death.
Drew Mitchell 5 Got stuck in with the forwards in the final five minutes but had little chance to do much else. Great to see him back in gold again.

The patented G&GR ratings guide:

10 – A legendary performance to go down in the history books
9 – Outstanding performance: Man of the match shoo-in
8 – Excellent all-round game
7 – Good game with a few sparkles
6 – Solid performance
5 – Average – ho hum
4 – Below par
3 – Had a bad game
2 – Tell your story walking pal
1 – A complete joke

How did you see it?



All Blacks

Writing and editing for G&GR since 2010.

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