An experimental New Zealand side scored eight tries to beat Japan 54-6 in Tokyo on Saturday.
While Richie McCaw and Dan Carter started, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen used this match to give his fringe players some game time. As expected, the world champions were still far too strong for a Japan team ranked 15th in the world.
The All Blacks, though, led just 7-6 after 25 minutes in a period that saw them concede seven penalties, two of which were slotted by Ayumu Goromaru. Earlier, Ryu Koliniasi Holani dropped a bomb from Beauden Barrett that allowed Charles Piutau to pick up the loose ball and get his first Test try.
But the visitors soon stepped up a gear, scoring three tries in a six-minute purple patch. Sam Cane grabbed his seventh try in 14 Tests following a burst from Carter, Ben Smith scored under the posts after Piutau had bumped off two defenders, and McCaw, playing at No 8, went over from a 5m scrum. Carter kicked all the conversions, which saw his side lead 28-6 at the break.
The second half was a messy affair, with the All Blacks giving their substitutes a run and Japan showing some good commitment on defence.
Jeremy Thrush and debutant Frank Halai went over from close range in the third quarter for their first Test tries. Tawera Kerr-Barlow's excellent left-footed grubber was then chased down by Barrett, before Piutau scored his second try after Francis Saili had booted the ball up-field. With Carter having been replaced by Tom Taylor, Barrett kicked both conversions.
The hosts finished the match well, though, and came close to scoring a try when Kenki Fukuoka went over in the left corner in the last play. But TV replays showed he had gone into touch first, much to the disappointment of the capacity crowd.
Having seen off the Japanese without too much fuss, the All Blacks will now head to Europe to take on France, England and Ireland over the next three weeks.
Japan – Penalties: Ayumu Goromaru (2).
All Blacks – Tries: Charles Piutau (2), Sam Cane, Ben Smith, Richie McCaw, Jeremy Thrush, Frank Halai, Beauden Barrett. Conversions: Dan Carter (5), Barrett (2).
Japan – 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Toshiaki Hirose, 13 Male Sau, 12 Craig Wing, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani, 7 Michael Broadhurst, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Shoji Ito, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Subs: 16 Yusuke Aoki, 17 Yusuke Nagae, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Luke Thompson, 20 Takashi Kikutani, 21 Kosei Ono, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Yoshikazu Fujita.
All Blacks – 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Richie McCaw (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images
Faf stood tall for Springboks
Faf de Klerk's heroics in Port Elizabeth prevented the Springboks from suffering a home series loss to Ireland, writes MARK KEOHANE in Business Day.
Boks must share kicking load
The Springboks’ ability to find grass with their attacking kicks will hinge on their communication as much as their decision-making and execution, writes JON CARDINELLI.
What we’ve learned
What we’ve learned from the past weekend's Test matches, according to CRAIG LEWIS.