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'Even Beauden Barrett taking deep breaths': Pace of Japan Top League surprises in Barrett's debut despite lopsided scoreline

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett has kicked off his first Top League campaign with a mammoth win over the Mitsubishi Dynaboars as Suntory Sungoliath piled on a cricket score to win by 75-7.


The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year’s debut has been a long time coming, with the Top League postponing its season for a month after three clubs – Suntory, Toyota Verblitz and Canon Eagles – suffered a COVID-19 outbreak within its squads.

The Blues pivot scored one of his side’s 11 tries, while former Highlander Tevita Li was the main beneficiary for Suntory, dotting down five times. Despite the lopsided scoreline, the pace of the match seemed to be frantic.

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James O’Connor post match
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James O’Connor post match

Renown Japanese rugby journalist Rich Freeman noted that after 60 minutes ‘even Beauden Barrett’ was taking deep breaths as the fast-paced game took its toll on the players.

Barrett kicked eight goals for a total of 21 points. His try came with the Dynaboars desperately defending their own line with the Sungoliath hot on attack.

Quick service from Japan’s halfback Yutaka Nagare gave Barrett the space to crash over from short range, slicing through the defence after a deft left foot step.


Barrett was back in his preferred number 10 jersey for Suntory, a position he mentioned before the season he would like to pursue when he returns to New Zealand.

He will not feature for the Blues in this season of Super Rugby Aotearoa, but will be available for All Blacks selection should Ian Foster believe his form warrants.


In other Top League fixtures, Michael Hooper joined Kieran Read at Toyota Verblitz in a tight 34-33 win over Toshiba Brave Lupus while All Black TJ Perenara also squeaked victory for the Red Hurricanes over Canon Eagles 26-24.


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