All Blacks, Japan both entertain in Tokyo try-fest

All Black first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga looks to make a break backed up by replacement  loose...
All Black first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga looks to make a break backed up by replacement loose forward Gareth Evans in Tokyo on Saturday, while coming across to defend is Japanese replacement hooker Yusuke Niwai. Photo: Getty Images
A second-string All Black side featuring eight new caps crushed Japan 69-31 in a thriller of a try-fest in Tokyo on Saturday, centre Ngani Laumape running in a hat-trick for the world champion.

First five-eighth  Richie Mo’unga scored one of New Zealand’s 10 tries and kicked a penalty and seven conversions for 22 points as it taught next year’s World Cup host a lesson in front a record crowd for a rugby match in Japan of 43,751.

Hooker Dane Coles nabbed New Zealand’s first try on his return to the side after almost a year out with injury, while winger George Bridge scored a brace, including one with his first touch as an All Black.

Japan was lively in attack and scored five tries to contribute to the 100-point tally for the match, but could not contain the All Blacks in defence, missing 25 tackles on the way to an overwhelming defeat.

"There was a fair amount of risk going into this game but we felt that the rewards were going to be a lot bigger than the risk if we got things right," New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen said.

"A number of players tonight have done themselves very proud.

"People keep asking us how we keep finding the talent. It’s the programmes back home and also because we give them opportunities.

"We have learnt a lot about people this week."

A close-to-capacity crowd at the Ajinomoto Stadium was allowed to dream of an improbable victory when lock Samuela Anise charged down Jordie Barrett’s kick and scored the first try of the game after five minutes.

However, the new-look All Blacks soon surged into gear and, after Coles went over in the corner following a fine pass from Laumape, the All Blacks were in control.

Mo’unga broke through a Japanese tackle to score his first All Black try on 20 minutes, before Laumape opened his account to give New Zealand a 24-7 lead after half an hour.

Tries from Japan No8Hendrik Tui and centre Timothy Lafaele either side of Laumape’s second and a maiden score for All Blacks halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi meant the home side  kept the halftime score respectable at 38-19, though.

Bridge, a halftime replacement, scored the try of the game with his first touch as a test player, following a quick break from Mo’unga.

The influence of Japan’s assistant coach, former Highlanders boss Tony Brown, was evident in much of the attacking play from the home side.

This was no more apparent than when Jamie Henry, who was making his test debut for Japan, ran on to first five-eighth Yu Tamura’s kick through to score in the corner to reduce the All Blacks’ lead to 21 points with a little under 30 minutes to go.

However, tries from winger Waisake Naholo and centre Matt Proctor, and further scores from Laumape and Bridge, piled on the points to give a fair reflection of New Zealand’s dominance.

The home crowd was treated to the final try of the match, a second from Lafaele with 10 minutes remaining, as Japan amassed its highest points tally against the All Blacks.

During its three previous meetings with New Zealand, Japan had lost by an average of 84 points, so the margin of defeat was perhaps a sign of improvement one year out from the World Cup, where on this display it will threaten any defence.

Hansen can now head to England and link up with his senior players for their three-match tour knowing he has plenty of depth on call. 

 

New Zealand v Japan
The scores

New Zealand 69

Dane Coles, Richie Mo’unga, Ngani Laumape 3, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, George Bridge 2, Waisake Naholo, Matt Proctor tries; Mo’unga 7 con, pen; Jordie Barrett con

Japan 31

Sauela Anise, Hendrik Tui, Tim Lafaele 2, Jamie Henry tries; Vu Tamura 3 con New Zealand 69

Halftime: 38-19

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