New Zealand scored eight unanswered tries as they thrashed Japan 54-6 on Saturday to kick their November tour off in impressive style.
New Zealand scored eight unanswered tries as they thrashed Japan 54-6 on Saturday to kick their end-of-year tour off in impressive fashion.
As expected, the All Blacks were dominant but Japan did not disgrace themselves even though they failed to score a try.
The All Blacks opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Charles Piutau was quickest to react after Ayumu Goromaru dropped a high kick from Beauden Barrett. Piutau gathered the loose ball and outpaced the cover defence before scoring his first Test try.
Dan Carter added the extras but, despite that try, the All Blacks battled to gain control during the early stages. The world champions battled to get going and had already made seven uncharacteristic errors by the 25th minute.
Goromaru made up for his earlier indiscretion by kicking two penalties and although they were coming off second-best in most departments, Japan would have been satisfied with the 7-6 scoreline.
All that changed, when the All Blacks scored three tries – by Sam Cane, Ben Smith and Richie McCaw – within the space of ten minutes to pull away from the Brave Blossoms.
Smith's effort in the 30th minute was the best of the match. Piutau laid the groundwork. He gathered a pass from Smith before bumping off two defenders, down the left flank, and threw an inside pass to Smith who scored under the posts.
New Zealand upped the ante after the break and were rewarded with four further tries.
Jeremy Thrush also got his first Test try, 10 minutes after the restart, when he burrowed his way over from close quarters after Japan did well to halt the All Blacks from scoring from a drive at a line-out on the home side's five-metre line.
Carter, who had a perfect record from the kicking-tee, succeeded with the conversion before being replaced by Tom Taylor.
Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen and Luke Whitelock joined fellow debutants Frank Halai and Dominic Bird off the replacements bench and Halai also left his stamp on the match when he scored in the left-hand corner. Tawera Kerr-Barlow was initially stopped just short of the line after combining with McCaw from the back of a scrum.
The floodgates were well and truly open by now with Piutau crossing over for his second, five minutes before the end, after Beauden Barrett – who took over at fly-half and the goal-kicking duties from Carter – also dotted down five minutes earlier.
Japan tried gallantly to score a try in the game's closing stages but, despite going close on a couple of occasions, they could not breach the All Blacks' defence.
The world champions' only blemish came during this period when Sam Cane was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul close to his try-line.
It wasn't the All Blacks' most eye-catching display but their coach Steve Hansen will be especially pleased with the performances of his inexperienced players and that of captain Richie McCaw at number eight.
Pens: Goromaru 2
For New Zealand:
Tries: Piutau 2, Cane, B. Smith, McCaw, Thrush, Halai, Barrett
Cons: Carter 5, Barrett 2
Yellow card: Cane
Japan: 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Toshiaki Hirose, 13 Male Sau, 12 Craig Wing, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani, 7 Michael Broadhurst, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Shoji Ito, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Aoki, 17 Yusuke Nagae, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Luke Thompson, 20 Takashi Kikutani, 21 Kosei Ono, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Yoshikazu Fujita.
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Richie McCaw (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Ryan Crotty.