HAMILTON, New Zealand (Reuters): Winger Richard Kahui and Sonny Bill Williams scored two tries each as an All Blacks side with a patch-work look about it ran in 13 tries in total to crush Japan 83-7 in their rugby World Cup Pool A match at Waikato Stadium on Friday.
The All Blacks had five players unavailable for the match due to injury and several played out of their normal position but they were simply too clincial for the Pacific Nations Cup champions, becoming the first side in the 2011 World Cup to rack up more than 50 points in a match.
“I think the big thing for us was wanting to improve,” said New Zealand captain Keven Mealamu. “We wanted to put out a good performance for them and I’m pretty pleased with it. “We have been trying to work on …getting the structures of our game down pat. We have improved on that but we still have got a few things that we can keep working away at.”
Japan wing Hirotoki Onozawa grabbed a consolation try when he intercepted a loose pass by Slade to race 30 metres to score and receive the biggest cheer of the game. Murray Williams added the conversion.
The crowd at Waikato Stadium observed a period of silence before kickoff to remember the victims of the Feb. 22 earthquake that struck Christchurch and the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated north-eastern Japan.
“It was our honour to play the All Blacks,” said Japan captain Takashi Kikutani. “It was a hard game for us, but the boys are sore. The All Blacks are a great team.
“Both countries suffered from big earthquakes. This game meant a lot for us, I hope we can (come) together as one.”
Backing up from his man of the match performance against Tonga a week ago, where he scored two tries, Kahui was again in the thick of the action against an overwhelmed Japan side.
It was a dominant performance from the All Blacks against the “Brave Blossoms” desperate to erase memories of a record 145-17 defeat by the All Blacks in the 1995 World Cup. Japan coach John Kirwan made 10 changes to he he team to face New Zealand and perhaps a lack of cohesion contributed to their flatness as the All Blacks racked up a four-try bonus point inside 29 minutes.
Outside centre Conrad Smith opened the scoring in the second minute of the game, setting the stage for the point-a-minute half. Wing Richard Kahui scored the first of his two tries in the 15th minute.
Kaino crashed over from a metre out for the All Blacks third try and a try from stand-in captain Keven Mealamu ensured New Zealand had the bonus point inside half an hour.
Two further tries in the space of two minutes to scrumhalf Andy Ellis and flyhalf Colin Slade ensured the All Blacks had a 38-0 halftim lead. Kahui had his second try in the 43rd minute and Sonny Bill Williams, who had come onto the wing for Cory Jane early in the second half, got the crowd cheering when he crossed in the 50th minute for his first try in the black jersey, bringing up 50 points for the All Blacks in the process.
Further tries to Toeava, Hore, Nonu, Thomson and a second for Williams in the 78th minute completed the scoring as the tournament hosts ran in 13 tries.
The All Blacks were forced to reshuffle their team for Friday’s game following injuries to captain Ritchie McCaw and Mils Muliaina on Wednesday. They joined Dan Carter, out with a sore back, already on the sidelines. This was to be McCaw’s 100th test and he would have been the first All Black to reach the milestone.