Ben Smith and Richie McCaw crossed four minutes apart in the first half on Saturday as the All Blacks trounced Japan 54-6 in New Zealand’s first official test in Japan.
Winger Charles Piutau scored his first of two tries for New Zealand before two early penalty kicks by Ayumu Goromaru cut the visitor’s lead to 7-6, but that was as close as Japan would get.
Sam Cane scored the All Blacks’ second try in the 26th minute to make it 12-6 before Smith and McCaw ran in, allowing Steve Hansen’s team to take a comfortable 28-6 lead at the break.
We got up mentally for an opposition that we knew, with the greatest of respect, we were always going to beat
“It was a very good game for us in a number of ways,” Hansen said.
“We got up mentally for an opposition that we knew, with the greatest of respect, we were always going to beat.”
The second half was more of the same with Jeremy Thrush, Frank Halai, Beauden Barrett and Piutau all scoring tries, with Barrett adding two conversions and Dan Carter one.
Japan, currently 15th in the world rankings, was forced to play Saturday’s match without head coach Eddie Jones who is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke last month. Technical adviser Steve Wisemantel took over in his absence.
Crusaders lock Dominic Bird and Blues winger Halai made their All Blacks debut in the match played before a sold-out crowd at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground.
World champions New Zealand stretched their winning streak to 11 games and set themselves up nicely for their tour of Europe where they will play matches against France, England and Ireland.
Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and are eager to improve but Saturday’s match underlined the vast differences between the Asian nation and an elite team like New Zealand.
“The first 20 minutes were very good and we did very well,” Wisemantel said.
“The next step is to maintain that against that type of team for 50 minutes to keep the pressure on.”
Japan 6 (Ayumu Goromaru 2 penalties). New Zealand 54 (Charles Piutau 2, Sam Cane, Ben Smith, Richie McCaw, Jeremy Thrush, Frank Halai, Beauden Barrett tries; Dan Carter 5 conversions; Barrett 2 conversions). HT: 6-28.