New Zealand travelled to the south of Japan with the expectation that they would crush Canada – a side that hasn’t come within 50 points of the All Blacks in their last four encounters dating back to 1995.
That expectation was more or less met, with New Zealand cruising to a 63-0 win.
Perhaps no All Blacks were going to catapult themselves ahead in the pecking order on the back of good performances against one of the weakest teams at the World Cup, but that didn’t seem to affect their desire to put on a good showing.
So, how did the players rate?
1 Atunaisa Moli – 8/10
Hit ruck after ruck; has mobility in spades. Played the full 80, with the All Blacks’ scrum being dominant the whole way through. Huge outing for the big man.
2 Liam Coltman – 5
Solid in the lineout, bar one early overthrow. Also solid in the scrums – but that’s all that can really be said of the third choice hooker. Off in 70th minute.
3 Angus Ta’avao – 7
Part of a very dominant scrum which earned more than a couple of penalties. Subbed in 27th minute but was one of the busiest defenders during his time on the field.
4 Scott Barrett – 6.5
Hands let him down – but not the only All Black who suffered in the humid conditions. Lost the ball over the line, costing the All Blacks an easy try. Almost lost a second too! Was called upon as the key ball-runner in the forwards and threw himself into his work and in better conditions would have likely put on a monstrous display.
5 Patrick Tuipulotu – 6
Made good metres on the carry. Hands failed him on occasions, like his locking partner.
6 Shannon Frizell – 7
A couple of good bursts – including one that gave NZ the field position that almost earned TJ Perenara an opportunistic try in the left corner. Was always on hand to support ball carriers and profited from a Rieko Ioane linebreak for that very reason. Ate some easy metres. Off in 70th minute.
7 Matt Todd – 7
Superb angled run paved the way for New Zealand’s first try but was stood up by his fellow forwards on attack later in the game. Todd is a considerably more useful player when the opposition has the ball – which was rarely the case tonight. He still managed to make 11 tackles, however – more than any other All Black. Off in 70th minute.
8 Kieran Read – 7.5
Wasn’t spectacular by any means, but did everything that was asked of him. Tackled resolutely when called upon and trucked the ball up on attack. Hard to really fault but still feels like he’s lost some of the pizzazz from earlier in his career.
9 TJ Perenara – 6.5
Always looked for opportunities around the ruck. Came within inches of scoring an audacious try. Passing sometimes inaccurate, but maybe that’s the price you pay for speed. Off at halftime.
10 Richie Mo’unga – 8
Lovely cross-field kick to an unmarked Jordie Barrett for the All Blacks’ second try. Distributed well, but had a fairly easy night of it. Attacked the line with more urgency in the second half, immediately creating a try for Scott Barrett with a superb offload. The result was much the same 15 minutes later when he set up reserve halfback Brad Weber. Almost managed a third set-up but couldn’t quite get his hands free for Rieko Ioane. Nailed all eight of his shots on goal.
11 Rieko Ioane – 6
1 try (41st minute). First real touch didn’t come until the 15th minute. Looked dangerous with ball in hand but inevitably dropped the ball in contact or gave a difficult pass. Had the pace to finish a Sonny Bill Williams break immediately after halftime. Was able to half-break the line moments later then offload for Frizell to score a good try. Moved to the midfield for the final half-hour and looked more incisive with a bit of extra involvement.
12 Sonny Bill Williams – 8.5
1 try (17th min), 2 assists. Useful carrier in the midfield – comfortably the busiest All Black on attack. Made a great break in the 6th minute then threw an unnecessarily complicated offload when a simple pass would have sufficed. Used his massive frame and long arms to score a well-taken try. Light-touch grubber bounced up perfectly for Beauden Barrett to nab a try. Great break early in the second half created Ioane’s try. Off in the 52nd minute.
13 Jack Goodhue – 4
Very quiet night – first game back since the thrashing at the hands of the Wallabies. Probably prospers more when the opposition put up more of a fight and are harder to break. Off at halftime.
14 Jordie Barrett – 6
Perfectly in position to take Richie Mounga’s cross-field kick – unmarked, but who would have bet against him taking the catch even with a man on top of him? Made a great chase on a counter-attack kick from Perenara in the 30th minute; missed the fullback but came back with a vengeance to nail DTH van der Merwe. Would have been good to see him at 10.
15 Beauden Barrett – 7
Started to run amok in the second spell after Canada fell off the pace. Dropped an early bomb and then somehow managed to lose the ball on a run to the line after the final gong. Showed off his trademark agility to burst through the line and set up Brad Weber’s try early in the second half.
16 Codie Taylor – N/A
On in 70th minute. No time to make an impact.
17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 5
On in 52nd minute. Scrums held up, but that’s about all that keen be said of the dyamic prop who should’ve offered more on both attack and defence. At least he hit the breakdowns.
18 Nepo Laulala – 5
On in 27th minute then was pulled in the 52nd. Scrum lost nothing once Laulala joined the fray.
19 Sam Whitelock – N/A
On in 70th minute. No time to make an impact.
20 Ardie Savea – N/A
On in 70th minute. Specs looked good. No time to make an impact.
21 Brad Weber – 6.5
On at halftime. Maintained the tempo that Perenara had set. Backed up Beauden Barrett and showed plenty of pace to scamper away from the Canadian chasers and dot down for his first international try. Had to run a bit further for his second, this time coming courtesy of his first five.
22 Ryan Crotty – 6
On at halftime. Safe as houses on both attack and defence. Doesn’t have anywhere near the same presence as Williams, however.
23 Ben Smith – 5
On in 52nd minute. Looked hungry but play didn’t flow his way.
Japan coach Jamie Joseph has given a fairly good indication of his future intentions:
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