New Zealand continued their unbeaten run this year with a comprehensive 54-6 victory over a competitive Japan side in Tokyo on Saturday. The visitors eased into the match and in typical All Blacks fashion, wore down their opponents then piled on the points.
Japan, who host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, looked an improved outfit as they competed well in the opening half hour. It took the All Blacks ten minutes to score their first try, through Charles Piutau.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen felt that his side weren’t up to scratch, and demanded more.
“I’m disappointed with some of the players and I’ll tell them. They had to get up for a game we were expected to win and some didn’t manage to do that.
“We got caught occasionally trying to play Japan’s game, which they play better than we do, a helter-skelter game. There were some lessons to be learned. But we scored eight tries so we can’t grumble too much,” Hansen added
The home crowd of 26 000 appeared pleased with the 28-6 halftime score. In 1995 when the two sides met the final score was 145-17, and in 2011 it was 83-7, so by the time the final whistle blew at 54-6, progress seemed to have been made.
That said, it was a changed, somewhat experimental New Zealand side ahead of their European tour. They play France this coming weekend in Paris, then England and Ireland on consecutive weekends.
“I don’t think it’s going to take too much to change the mindset for Paris. Next week is going to be a hell of a match so it won’t take much to turn the screws,” said skipper Richie McCaw.
Below are highlights from the match and following the Live Stream from Saturday, you can watch the full match replay here (geo-blocked in some territories).