The All Blacks finished their preparations for the World Cup by handing Tonga a 92-7 lashing in their final warm-up in Hamilton on Saturday, reports DYLAN JACK.
A half-time score of 54-0 to the All Blacks tells its own story about the nature of this contest. So one-sided was the match that the All Blacks were racking up more than a point a minute. It was also their second-highest points tally in a first half other than their 145-17 win over Japan in 1995.
It is hard to judge what, aside from a massive confidence boost, the New Zealanders really gained from the match as it is unlikely that they will come up against as porous defences as the Tongans’ in Hamilton. In fact, the scoreline was so flattering that the All Blacks took centre Ryan Crotty off in the second half and did not replace him, deliberately playing with 14 men when the game was already won.
Unfortunately this has been the only Tongan highlight so far. pic.twitter.com/0TJgjd6fzi
— FOX SPORTS Rugby (@FOXRUGBY) September 7, 2019
Aside from a 76th-minute try from captain and centre Siale Piutau, there was very little for Tonga to get excited about, as their lack of preparation time before the World Cup was evident.
The All Blacks had all the early possession and capitalised with Sevu Reece scoring his first try of the match in just the eighth minute. While Tonga tried to hit back and worked hard to grind down the All Blacks’ defence, they found themselves behind their posts again when Ardie Savea won a turnover and shifted the ball to Ben Smith, who sprinted from inside his own half to score New Zealand’s second try.
Codie Taylor grabbed the third try minutes later after a break from George Bridge, before Bridge went over to score in the corner. Kieran Read, TJ Perenara and Ryan Crotty added further tries, with Smith scoring his brace just before the break to take the home side into a 54-0 half-time lead.
The All Blacks handed a debut to Josh Ioane at half time and the 24-year-old took just seconds to effect an assist as his restart was grabbed by Bridge, who sprinted clear for his brace.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 7, 2019
The wing then sealed his hat-trick, following tries from Matt Todd and Ardie Savea, but was not done by scoring a fourth as the All Blacks looked set to bring up a points century. Things unbelievably got worse for Tonga as they lost lock Sam Lousi to a yellow card for a late hit on Ioane, with Crotty bringing the All Blacks into the nineties.
New Zealand – Tries: Sevu Reece, Ben Smith (2), Codie Taylor, George Bridge (4), Kieran Read, TJ Perenara, Matt Todd, Ardie Savea, Ryan Crotty. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (6), Josh Ioane (4).
Tonga – Try: Siale Piutau. Conversion: Piutau.
New Zealand – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Ardie Savea, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ofa Tuungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Jordie Barrett.
Tonga – 15 David Halaifonua, 14 Cooper Vuna, 13 Mali Hingano, 12 Siale Piutau (c), 11 Viliami Lolohea, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Tane Takulua, 8 Ma’ama Vaipulu, 7 Fotu Lokotui, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Leva Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 Siua Maile, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.
Subs: 16 Sione Anga’aelangi, 17 Vunipola Fifita, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Dan Faleafa, 20 Zane Kapeli, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 James Faiva, 23 Afa Pakalani.
Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images