Baby faced All Blacks too strong for Japan | Sunday Observer

Baby faced All Blacks too strong for Japan

New Zealand’s All Blacks perform Haka prior to their rugby union International Test match against Japan in Tokyo
New Zealand’s All Blacks perform Haka prior to their rugby union International Test match against Japan in Tokyo

TOKYO AFP: Fly-half Richie Mo’unga boosted his World Cup hopes Saturday as he sparked a second-string All Blacks side to a 69-31 victory over Japan in Tokyo.

Mo’unga scored a try and went eight-from-nine with the boot in a sparkling 22-point display for the visitors, who ran in 10 tries against the 2019 World Cup hosts.

Ngani Laumape bagged a hat-trick of tries for the world champions, while George Bridge marked his All Blacks debut with a pair after coming on at the start of the second half.

But New Zealand -- resting their big-hitters for November Tests away to England, Ireland and Italy -- were given a workout by Japan, who scored five tries of their own watched by a crowd of 43,000.

“We’ve put a lot of inexperienced players in a Test match against a team that’s been playing very well the last couple of years,” said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who picked a weakened side including eight new caps ahead of next week’s clash with England at Twickenham.

“There’s a few risks involved in that, but the boys have come through and come out the other side with a big tick.” New Zealand had racked up a whopping 282 points in their previous three meetings with Japan, including a World Cup record 145-17 demolition of the Brave Blossoms in 1995.

But Japan stunned the All Blacks by scoring the game’s first try just three minutes in, snaffled by Samuela Anise after he had charged down Jordie Barrett’s attempted clearance.

Hooker Dane Coles marked his return after a year out with injury by grabbing New Zealand’s first try to settle nerves in a side unrecognisable from the one that beat Australia 37-20 last weekend.

The World Cup holders scored quickfire tries as Mo’unga dived over before Laumape latched on to a clever kick from Waisake Naholo to race clear.

 

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