All Blacks continue unbeaten streak
Tokyo – New Zealand continued their unbeaten run this season with an eight-try 54-6 victory over a combative and tenacious Japan side in their rugby Test match at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Charles Piutau (two), Sam Cane, Ben Smith, Richie McCaw, Jeremy Thrush, Frank Halai, Beauden Barrett all scored tries for the All Blacks, who efficiently put away their scoring opportunities but were let down by messy patches.
Flyhalf Daniel Carter added five conversions while Barrett added two late conversions.
Japan fullback Ayumu Goromaru slotted two first half penalties for the home side, who were hemmed inside their own territory for much of the game.
The match was significant for being the first outside of a World Cup between the two sides, with the All Blacks having recorded victories of 145-17 and 83-7 and few had expected the result on Saturday to be any different.
The world champions had said they wanted to use the match to introduce some of their less experienced players to Test rugby, with nine players sent directly to Paris to prepare for their clash with France next week.
Steve Hansen gave starts to Dominic Bird and Halai and also introduced Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen and Luke Whitelock off the bench to bring the total of new caps to 21 since he took over following the 2011 World Cup.
Japan had a troubled build-up with coach Eddie Jones hospitalised with a stroke last month and assistant Scott Wisemantel taking over the reins for their November Tests.
The 'Brave Blossoms' had been buoyed by their first win over an inexperienced and depleted Wales side in June and Wisemantel said the rare meeting with the All Blacks was a chance to show the world they were improving.
That was only too evident in the gloomy and wet conditions where the Japanese were combative at the scrum, despite a significant weight disadvantage, and clinical at the lineout where they also contested on New Zealand's throw.
The visitors superior ball handling at pace, however, proved the decisive factor with the All Blacks striking from deep, running into space and exploiting the home side's mistakes inside their own half to record the comfortable scoreboard victory though Hansen will have come concerns.
The All Blacks, who have now won all 11 of Their tests this year, head to Paris to meet France on Novmeber 9, while Japan will play Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. – Reuters