Rugby World Cup 2011
New Zealand’s All Blacks sounded an ominous warning to other cup hopefuls with a crushing 83-7 win over Japan in Hamilton on Friday.
Despite fielding a virtual second string side, the hosts and favourites for the trophy turned in a superlative performance to blow away their opponents. From the moment Conrad Smith opened the scoring after three minutes the All Blacks never looked back. Richard Kahui, Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu, Andy Ellis and Colin Slade also crossed in the first half as the hosts opened up a 38-0 lead.
In the second half Kahui, Sonny Bill Williams (2), Isaia Toeava, Andrew Hore, Ma’a Nonu and Adam Thomson all added further scores. Slade endured a mixed day as he struggled to cope with filling the boots of Dan Carter, with the young fly-half adding nine conversions. Japan, though, deserve credit for their display as they attempted to take the game to New Zealand. However, despite throwing the ball around and showing a willingness to attack from deep, they lack any real penetration.
Hirotoki Onozawa, though, did cross the whitewash in the second period and Murray Williams converted to reward Japan’s never-say-die spirit. New Zealand had opened the scoring after just three minutes with Smith finishing after Japan had coughed up possession at the breakdown. Victor Vito made the initial hard yards, before Ma’a Nonu and Isaia Toeava combined to free Smith. Slade converted. Slade, in for Dan Carter, failed with a regulation penalty effort seven minutes later – continuing the theme of kicking errors throughout the World Cup.
Slade was also wayward with a conversion attempt after Kahui had acrobatically gone over in the corner. A catch and drive move drew in the defence before quick hands put Kahui free. Having scored the opening two tries through the backs flanker Kaino got in on the act when, after a series drives on the Japan line, he burrowed over. Slade, once again, missed his kick at goal.
Japan, though, refused to crumble and had their moments – including a spell of 15 phases in the New Zealand half. Unfortunately they lacked the cutting edge to breach a solid defence. And stand-in Mealamu captain made the Cherry Blossoms pay as he secured the bonus point in only the 31st minute. Slade found his range with the extras.
The fifth try came just two minutes later as Ellis strengthened his claim for the No.9 shirt by supporting Smith’s initial break. Slade added the conversion.
And Slade made it 38-0 when he converted his own try, with Toeava and Ellis creating the opening. Kahui added his fourth try of the tournament after the break as he took the pass at pass and broke through one tackle to score. Slade converted. Replacement Williams ghosted through from a scissors move to bring up the half-century. Slade made no mistake with the extras.
A couple of decent breaks from Michael Leitch gave Japan hope of a consolation score, unfortunately from turnover ball Ellis chipped ahead and Kahui and Sam Whitelock kept the ball alive for Toeava to score. Slade, with his new-found confidence, made it 59-0. However the Cherry Blossoms finally got the try their display deserved when Onozawa snaffled an interception try from Slade’s attempted off-load. Williams converted.
Japan’s joy was short-lived, though, as Hore found himself free on the wing to cross.
The pick of the tries came minutes later when Sonny Bill Williams danced his way through the Japan defence before releasing Nonu for a simple run-in. Slade missed his second successive conversion. Thomson became the 11th All Black to score following Jimmy Cowan’s break, while Williams added his second in the final minute, with Slade converting both.