Ngani Laumape scored three of the All Blacks’ 10 tries in their 69-31 win over Japan in Tokyo on Saturday.
Most of the All Blacks players who will face England and Ireland in Europe over the next two weeks were not considered for the clash against the Brave Blossoms in Japan. Coach Steve Hansen opted for a largely inexperienced match 23, with as many as eight players making their Test debuts.
The decision to split the squad did little to dilute the All Blacks’ potency in Tokyo. While Japan scored the first try of the match, the All Blacks crossed the line five times before the end of the half and took a commanding 38-19 lead into the break.
Laumape scored twice in the first stanza. After half-time, Hansen introduced a few new players from the bench. Debutant George Bridge scored with his first touch of the ball.
While Japan were outplayed in several areas, they did manage to put five tries past the All Blacks defence. Jamie Henry dotted down for the hosts after collecting a sharp cross-kick in the 51st minute.
The visitors continued to come at the Japan defence in the dying stages, though. Laumape chipped and regathered to complete his hat-trick in the 63rd minute.
Bridge went on to claim his second of the game, and the All Blacks finished the contest with a total of 10 tries.
Richie Mo’unga, who enjoyed a rare start for the All Blacks at No 10, finished the game with a personal tally of 22 points.
Japan – Tries: Samuel Anise, Hendrik Tui, Timothy Lafaele (2), Jamie Henry. Conversions: Yu Tamura (3).
All Blacks – Tries: Dane Coles, Richie Mo’unga, Ngani Laumape (3), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, George Bridge (2), Waisake Naholo, Matt Proctor. Conversions: Mo’unga (7), Jordie Barrett. Penalty: Mo’unga.
Japan – 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Jamie Henry, 13 Will Tupou, 12 Tim Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 8 Hendrik Tui, 7 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 6 Michael Leitch (c), 5 Samuela Anise, 4 Wimpie van der Walt, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Subs: 16 Yusuki Niwai, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Asaeli Valu, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Vaka Nakajima, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda 23 Ryoto Nakamura.
All Blacks – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Luke Whitelock (c), 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Subs: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Dillon Hunt, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 George Bridge.
Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images