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 union Test match at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo yesterday.
Charles Piutau (two), Sam Cane, Ben Smith, Richie McCaw, Jeremy Thrush, Frank Halai and Beauden Barrett all scored tries for the All Blacks, who efficiently put away their scoring opportunities.
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 All Blacks 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 forthcoming clash with France.
Steve Hansen gave starts to Dominic Bird and Halai and also brought 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 hospitalized with a stroke last month and assistant Scott Wisemantel taking over the reins for their Tests this month.
The “Brave Blossoms” had been buoyed by their first-ever win over Wales in June and Wisemantel said the rare meeting with the All Blacks was an opportunity 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 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 Saturday, while Japan will play Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.