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All Blacks player ratings: Dane Coles, Finlay Christie shine amongst Italy gloom

OPINION: The All Blacks made hard work of what was expected, even for their second-stringers, to be a walk in the park against Italy in Rome.

Eventually the visitors prevailed 47-9, but not after a frustrating, error-filled, opening half hour.

Here are Stuff’s player ratings from the contest at Stadio Olimpico.

Damian McKenzie: Mixed time of it under the high ball and an awful dropped pass as ABs were hunting an opening try. Got into first receiver more later, but no chances to dazzle out wide. 5

Sevu Reece: Forced to play a clean-up role for a while, and scrambled well, before finally getting an attacking chance and making the most of it with a speedy finish. Off at the 67th minute. 6

Braydon Ennor: Endured a horror start, with two dropped balls either side of throwing a forward pass, and never recovered. Replaced at the 58th minute. 4

Quinn Tupaea: Hardly a touch for a while, then coughed up a ball with the line close, then a nice break but too cute an offload. Involved more later and ended as ABs’ top metre-eater with 98 (12 carries), but was mostly just battering. 5

George Bridge: Desperately had to prove he still has something to offer, and showed some touches without ever being put in space himself, making a game-high 14 runs. 6

Richie Mo’unga: None of the magic attack we’ve been accustomed to, aside from one silky try setup. A couple of good defensive plays to force errors, some nice penalty touchfinders and 6/7 off the tee (well, one drop-kick), but Beauden Barrett should be feeling very comfortable of retaining the No 10 jersey. 6

Brad Weber: Bloodied nose and off for an HIA in ninth minute which he didn’t return from. N/R

Hoskins Sotutu went over for a first test try in a busy showing at No 8.

Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Hoskins Sotutu went over for a first test try in a busy showing at No 8.

Hoskins Sotutu: Huge lineout presence, and won one against the throw with ABs under sustained early pressure. Surged down left touch for a first test try late in the piece. 7

Sam Cane: Welcomed back to the captaincy fold in frustrating fashion, as he watched the error toll mount. Put head down and went the 80 in first start of the year, showing some skilful pieces of handling and making a team-high nine tackles, along with winning a late ruck turnover. 6

Luke Jacobson: Good lineout steal straight after being harshly penalised, but apart from getting stuck into some strong maul work, a very quiet 52-minute outing. 5

Josh Lord: Industrious display by the 20-year-old in first test start. Big covering tackle on Braam Steyn on Italy’s breakout and also added a lineout steal. Off at the hour-mark. 6

Tupou Vaa’i: Full of errors, with two drops in tackles and a lineout spill as ABs finally got an attacking chance, along with being pinged three times among Karl Dickson’s 31 penalties and also being dragged into some off-the-ball stuff. 4

Tyrel Lomax: Couple of quality charges and in the thick of the big boys’ collective driving displays. Off at 52nd minute along with fellow front-row comrades. 7

Dane Coles marked his first test start in four months with an impressive display.

Alfredo Falcone/Photosport

Dane Coles marked his first test start in four months with an impressive display.

Dane Coles: First start since season-opener and marked it by leading the haka as well as scoring two lineout-drive tries. Could have had a hat-trick but was held up. One of the few who looked right on song. 8

George Bower: Part of a strong scrum showing, which led directly to visitors’ first try, and did core roles well as he continues to grow into test footy. 6

Reserves

Asafo Aumua: Mirrored Coles’ two-try effort, getting on the back of a couple of lineout drives for first test points. First throw was not straight, but showed nice mix of power running and soft hands. 7

Ethan de Groot: Put his hulking frame to work, albeit without much scrum fun to have. Good control at maul time for Aumua to then score. 6

Ofa Tuungafasi: Got involved in his stint and produced a good carry and offload to lead to Reece try. 6

Sam Whitelock: On for final quarter and if anything provided extra leadership as men in black scored four of their seven tries. 6

Shannon Frizell: First appearance since second test against Fiji on July 17. On in 52nd minute and made strong charge with first touch and also won the ABs’ first ruck turnover penalty. 7

Finlay Christie: On early for Weber and gave away silly offside scrum penalty with first involvement. But then impressed to give Ian Foster some thinking for the next fortnight. Smartly taken first test try as ABs finally opened their account in 28th minute, some energetic covering tackles, and a great setup of Reece try. 8

David Havili: On in 58th minute and had limited chances, before helping the low numbers out in getting in the maul for Aumua’s double. 5

Jordie Barrett: Saw the final dozen minutes, sent down a few long kicks and got involved with a few carries and a nice offload. 6



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