Ireland's 23 men deserve each and every plaudit with the utmost legitimacy in a Test for the ages from Chicago. The All Blacks played their part in the grandstand second half finish, so who was their best?
Ben Smith 7/10
Made good use of the ball and coolly finished a crucial try to keep his side in the contest. Suffered from Ireland’s canny use of the boot and couldn’t get into the game as he’d like. Safe and steady.
Waisake Naholo 5.5/10
His early break aside, was well contained for the most part. A handful of inaccurate moments and subbed after an hour.
George Moala 6/10
A mixed bag including a try and the missed tackle on Rob Kearney for the Stander try. Was up against it once Crotty left and cruelly left the field with what looked like a broken arm. Couldn’t and didn’t impose himself. Good work rate.
Ryan Crotty 7/10
Was leading the defensive line well until a seemingly innocuous moment tore his hamstring.
Julian Savea 5/10
Julian Who in the first half and like Naholo was snuffed out brilliantly by the Irish cover. One of those days he looked sluggish and unlikely to trouble.
Beauden Barrett 6/10
Struggles on the back foot and was a non-entity in the first half. Didn’t have the platform to do his business early and was then neutralised by the hounding defence in the second spell. Kicking gets a pass mark though.
Aaron Smith 5/10
His crisp pass was one minute a sight for sore eyes then at times an eyesore. Couldn’t get himself into the game and not his dominant self.
Kieran Read 4/10
At his best when he takes the ball for himself and leads from the front but was missing in the first half. Buttoned off his lineout takes and didn’t demand the ball in phase play. Rallied his troops somewhat but one of his poorer Tests.
Sam Cane 8/10
A lone ranger in the horror first forty. Man on the spot to make the tackles and first at the breakdown. Needed some help from his fellow forwards to win the breakdown when he cannonballs in and didn’t get it.
Liam Squire 7.5/10
Too loose in the first half but a man possessed thereafter. Huge presence during the comeback period with ball in hand. Perhaps tried too hard if there is such a thing.
Patrick Tuipolotu 7/10
Positive signs early with his mobility, defensive and breakdown work, blighted slightly with his handling. Suffered for not having a bonafide senior lock next door.
Jerome Kaino 3.5/10
Rare sight of seeing Kaino being outmuscled at two mauls, struggling at lineout time and subbed after 45 minutes. Some big hits only thing to write home about.
Owen Franks 6/10
Slightly bettered in a handful of scrums, couldn’t impose himself at the breakdown but did his part on defence making his fair share of offensive tackles.
Dane Coles 5.5/10
Poor combination with unfamiliar lineout hurt the AB’s and was a major contributor to the lack of parity. Fixed it in the second half and got his running game going, an offload beauty kicking off the comeback. Like Samson, will improve once his facial hair returns.
Joe Moody 3.5/10
Becoming a liability as he racked up another yellow card that threatened to become a red in the second half. Would have pulled earlier had Crockett been on the bench.
Codie Taylor n/a
Invisible. Handful of minutes on the side of the scrum as the All Blacks became the walking wounded.
Ofa Tu’ungafasi 6/10
Core job well done and like Faumuina stuck to the plan to improve the lineout and breakdown.
Charlie Faumuina 5/10
Began by dropping the ball and never got anything special going. Helped to build the continuity during the big comeback.
Scott Barrett 8/10
A shining light on debut. Scored a ripper and made metres with the ball. Importantly allowed the lineout to improve. In line to start in seven days time.
Ardie Savea 6.5/10
Burst into the game with a textbook No.7 turnover then injuries forced him onto the wing where he languished, his flailing attempt at Henshaw summing up the match for his team.
TJ Perenara 8/10
One of the key instigators in the revival. Used his support game, increasingly rapid pass and barking to great effect. One huge turnover as he masqueraded as Richie McCaw. Has he edged in front of Smith??
Aaron Cruden 5/10
Had little impact against a rabid and efficient Irish D. Barrett played with more playmaking authority from fullback.
Malakai Fekitoa 6/10
Some nice runs to straighten combined with his distribution. More of a passenger than play maker though.