Ranking the five best performances from the All Blacks in 2023

In the 2023 Rugby World Cup final, the All Blacks lost by a single point, but the year had many other unforgettable matches.

After winning the Rugby Championship, Bledisloe Cup, and Freedom Cups to begin the season, they were in high spirits. However, during a warm-up Test match against the Springboks at Twickenham, they experienced some turbulence.

They were defeated by France on the opening night of the Rugby World Cup, which resulted in their first-ever pool stage loss. Nevertheless, they bounced back to make a run for the major prize, the William Webb Ellis trophy.

Even though they defeated the Springboks 12–11 in the championship game, their performance does not rank among the best of the year.

They still should’ve won but didn’t, with many key areas lacking despite completely dominating the Springboks at the lineout and throughout the entire second half.

Here are the five best performances from the All Blacks in 2023.

5. All Blacks 41-12 Argentina at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza

Prior to their first Test of the year and their first Test in Argentina since 2019, there was a sense of unease among the All Blacks.

Argentina was expected to produce something similar, helped by their home crowd, after they had lost to Los Pumas at home in 2022.

Rather, the All Blacks went on an early rampage, hushed the crowd at the Mendoza football stadium. The game was virtually over at halftime, with a score of 31-7.

In his first start at No. 10 for the All Blacks in a long time, Damian McKenzie made an impression, Emon Narawa, making his debut, scored a goal with a brilliant finish, and Jamie Barrett, securing his spot as the starting midfielder, was outstanding at No. 12.

It was a professional display that

4. All Blacks 35-20 Springboks at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

They easily defeated the Springboks at Mount Smart to follow up their victory in Mendoza. The opening 20-minute blitz will always be remembered for Shannon Frizell’s dominating try over Willie le Roux in the corner.

A worn-out Springbok side that had flown out early to New Zealand to prepare for the Test was completely destroyed by the All Blacks. In the end, a lot of the South African players were woefully underdone and hadn’t participated in a game in months after concluding their club seasons in Japan.

After unleashing a world-class bench, the Springboks battled back in the second half, but under Richie Mo’unga’s leadership, the All Blacks weathered the storm and pulled away once more with late tries to Will Jordan and Mo’unga.

This performance would rank higher on the list but for the Springboks playing mind games. They clearly didn’t start with their best side and didn’t compete at one lineout for the entire game. It was a shadow-boxing affair of sorts.

The All Blacks first 20 minutes was incredible but there were large stages of the game where they lost ascendency and therefore this ranks fourth on the best performances of 2023.

3. All Blacks 38-7 Wallabies at the MCG, Melbourne

With Eddie Jones, the new Wallabies head coach, stirring things up with the New Zealanders months before the Test, the first Bledisloe Test of 2023 was much anticipated.

In an unforgettable press conference a few days prior to the Test, he declared that if the All Blacks lost, New Zealand’s economy would collapse. 80,000 spectators crammed into the MCG for the spectacle, and they were treated to an All Blacks victory based primarily on outstanding defense.

Carter Gordon, a young player making his debut at flyhalf, led the Wallabies in some strong attacking play during the first half hour. They took many opportunities to capitalize, but not enough of them.

An attempt atThe Wallabies led by Rob Valetini, but in the end they were defeated.

In the second half the All Blacks did what they do best as the Wallabies ran out of puff. Losing tighthead prop Taniela Tupou didn’t help as Eddie Jones’ power game couldn’t break the All Blacks’ goal line defence.

One of their best All Blacks tries of the year came to Rieko Ioane from a Mark Telea offload after a long passage of play that began back inside their own half.

Telea again was phenomenal, finishing with five line breaks, nine defenders beaten, one try and one try assist.

2. All Blacks 44-6 Argentina in the Rugby World Cup semi-final, Stade de France Paris

It was said that this match was unfair, but that criticism ignores the fact that it was a Rugby World Cup semifinal. As far as the All Blacks were concerned, it was as good as it gets in a game with such high stakes. Any day of the week, any team in the world would accept this low-stress outcome in a semifinal.

Will Jordan scored three goals, one of which was an incredible long-range shot using his go-to chip and chase move. Had Richie Mo’unga made the game-winning pass late in a play, he would have tied the record for most tries at a Rugby World Cup with nine. Rather, he misjudged and was tackled, which put Jordan on eight.

The All Blacks booked their place in the Rugby World Cup final pretty much by half-time and were able to voluntarily finish the game down a man, opting not to put Scott Barrett back into the contest after his yellow card.

1. All Blacks 28-24 Ireland in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final, Stade de France Paris

Defeating the best team in the world in one of the greatest rugby matches ever witnessed was unquestionably the highlight of the year for the All Blacks.

This quarterfinal had incredible intensity and was ultimately decided by the narrowest of margins.

The All Blacks had to put on an incredible show, and they did. After taking an early 13-0 lead thanks to two penalties from Richie Mo’unga and a try from Leicester Fainga’anuku, they maintained the lead for 77 minutes.

Bundee Aki’s try pulled Ireland back into the game, bringing the score to 13–10, but Ardie Savea extended the lead once more before halftime.

A piece of Richie Mo’unga magic to set-up Will Jordan for a big strike added another buffer heading into the final twenty but Ireland kept coming, always closing the gap to within one score.

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