17 Sep 2011

All Blacks thrash Japan

7:31 pm on 17 September 2011

The All Blacks thumped Japan 83-7 in their second Rugby World Cup match in Hamilton on Friday, scoring 13 tries to one.

The host nation led 38-0 at half-time, with centre Conrad Smith scoring the first of their six first-half tries just four minutes into his 50th match for the All Blacks.

Japan were more committed and competitive than the score suggested, but were simply outclassed at Waikato Stadium.

Winger Hirotoki Onozawa grabbed a consolation try when he intercepted a loose pass by Colin Slade to race 30 metres to score and get the biggest cheer of the game. Murray Williams added the conversion.

Despite the injury-enforced absence of key players including captain Richie McCaw, first five-eighth Dan Carter and Mils Muliaina, the All Blacks did not repeat their ordinary second-half showing against Tonga in their opening match.

They kept their structure after coach Graham Henry made changes, including bringing Sonny Bill Williams onto the right wing where he scored two tries. Richard Kahui also scored two, while Colin Slade kicked nine conversions.

"I think the big thing for us was wanting to improve," said New Zealand captain Keven Mealamu. "We wanted to put out a good performance for them and I'm pretty pleased with it.

"We have been trying to work on ... getting the structures of our game down pat. We have improved on that but we still have got a few things that we can keep working away at."

The crowd observed a minute's silence before kickoff to remember the victims of the February earthquake that hit Christchurch and the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in March.

"It was our honour to play the All Blacks," captain Takashi Kikutani said. "It was a hard game for us, but the boys are sore. The All Blacks are a great team. Both countries suffered from big earthquakes. This game meant a lot for us, I hope we can (come) together as one."

The All Blacks previously beat Japan 145-17 at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Japan next play Tonga in Whangarei on Wednesday, while the All Blacks take on France in Auckland on 24 September.


New Zealand - Tries: Conrad Smith, Richard Kahui (2), Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu, Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Sonny Bill Williams (2), Isaia Toeava, Andrew Hore, Ma'a Nonu, Adam Thomson. Conversions: Slade (9)

Japan - Tries: Hirotoki Onozawa; Conversions; Murray Williams

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)