All Blacks rout Tonga in terrible advert for ‘Test’ rugby

Will Jordan scored five tries as the All Blacks ran in a century of points against a woefully understrength Tonga team in Auckland on Saturday.

With this Tonga side filled with club players and devoid of any of their Europe-based World Cup players, the gulf in class between the two teams made a mockery of this fixture, and ultimately resulted in New Zealand freewheeling to a 102-0 victory.

After nine minutes, the All Blacks had scored four tries. After the opening quarter, they led by nearly 40 points. By full time, the hosts had reached triple figures.

At that stage, questions were being asked about whether the Kiwis might progress well beyond triple figures and even threaten to reach their highest-ever total of 145 points against Japan in 1995.

In the end, the All Blacks didn’t quite get there, but the scoreline was no less of an indictment on such a match-up as the ruthless home team piled on 16 tries.

They played to a simple formula of moving the ball wide at a pace the inexperienced Tongans, with 13 debutants, could not match.

It was the ninth time the All Blacks have notched a century of points and equalled their highest score against Tonga set 21 years ago, while Jordan’s five tries were one short of the New Zealand Test record set by Marc Ellis in 1995.

It took just 67 seconds for Damian McKenzie to score the opening try and within 19 minutes the All Blacks were up 38-0.

But when it looked like they could threaten their world record for the highest Test score – 145-17 against Japan in 1995 – they lost their shape for a period and scored only once more in the first half to turn with a 43-0 lead.

For more than a quarter of an hour Tonga kept the All Blacks scoreless and showed at scrum time they would not be easy to push around, but they were never competitive.

Without access to their top players on contract in the northern hemisphere, Tonga’s mix of mainly amateur, New Zealand-based players could not match a fully professional All Blacks unit, hardened by four months of brutal Super Rugby.

The All Blacks were in a no-win situation with the spectators, though, as they faced criticism both when not playing to their full potential and when they embarrassed a hapless opposition by scoring at will.

The biggest cheers came when Tonga twice turned down kickable penalties in favour of an attacking scrum, although both times went without reward.

In the second half, the All Blacks regained their structure and produced a relentless attack with nine further tries as they dismantled Tonga with ease.

In addition to Jordan’s five tries, Brad Weber scored three and Dalton Papalii two, with one each for McKenzie, Luke Jacobson, Richie Mo’unga, Rieko Ioane, Patrick Tuipulotu and George Bridge.

Mo’unga landed seven conversions with four from Beauden Barrett, who came on as a replacement in the second half.

– Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse


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Craig Lewis