Sat, Jun 17, 2017 - Page 16 News List

All Blacks run riot as Lions Test looms

SLOW START:New Zealand shook off some early rust in their first outing of the year to lead 28-0 at halftime, before putting 50 points past Samoa in the second half

AFP, AUCKLAND, New Zealand

New Zealand No. 8 Ardie Savea, left, runs the ball against Samoa at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

The All Blacks ran in 12 tries to demolish Samoa 78-0 in Auckland yesterday, sending a clear warning to the British and Irish Lions ahead of next week’s first Test.

It was a game set up for the All Blacks to clear out any rust before they front the composite team at Eden Park next weekend, and rust there was.

If there were no teething problems in their first run of the season, the score would have been higher as tries went begging.

Tackles were also missed, but New Zealand still kept Samoa scoreless in what ballooned to their second biggest win against them.

The All Blacks led 28-0 with four tries in the first half and added another eight in a sparkling second spell, including one to new cap Vaea Fifita, who came off the bench to score with his first touch of the ball.

“Samoa started out really physical and really tested us,” All Blacks captain Ben Smith said.

“We had to be really disciplined tonight and when we were, we started to profit from that,” Smith said.

“We’ll go away and learn from that and make sure we’re better next week,” he said. “There’s a lot of learning there that will be great for our group.”

There was plenty for the Lions to take note of, especially the control of the All Blacks forwards at the set piece and the audacious offloads. When there was the merest hint of a counterattack opportunity, the All Blacks struck hard.

Aaron Smith justified his return to the starting line-up as he was central to directing play into the gaps.

However, the world champions revived a problem of old when they made a slow start and displayed a creaking defense.

“We just didn’t capitalize on those first 20 minutes,” Samoa captain Kahn Fotuali’i said. “We got down to their tryline and coughed it up too many times.”

“It was tough; they’re not No. 1 in the world for no reason and we knew what we were up against,” he said.

Samoa dominated territory for the opening quarter, with centers Alapati Leiua and Kieron Fonotia carving through the All Blacks backs, where Sonny Bill Williams was twice found wanting.

Despite the pressure, the All Blacks remained calm and when the chance came to counterattack they pounced.

After defending desperately for the first 10 minutes, it took two well-placed Aaron Smith clearing kicks to ease the pressure and once inside the Samoa 22, a pop pass from Beauden Barrett saw Anton Lienert-Brown score the opening try.

In the closing 10 minutes of the half the All Blacks scored three more tries, to Barrett, Ardie Savea and Williams.

Aaron Smith started the second half using turnover ball to spark a 60m move for Israel Dagg to score, before Julian Savea, Codie Taylor, Beauden Barrett, Fifita, T.J. Perenara and Ardie Savea also scored in the second half as the All Blacks ran riot.

In an earlier match at Eden Park, a sole try to Alex Cuthbert and four penalties to Sam Davies steered Wales to a 24-6 win over highly physical Tonga in the rain.

A seven-point penalty try in the last play of the game embellished the scoreline for a much-changed Wales, who were missing Test regulars and their coach because of the Lions tour.

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