Playing in front of a packed crowd at the Oita Stadium, the skill, pace and precision of the back-to-back reigning champions was on full display against the North American minnows, with Steve Hansen’s side running in an impressive nine tries.
Proceedings got underway inside the first minute of the match, with the All Blacks barnstorming their through the Canadian half after Scott Barrett reclaimed brother Beauden’s short kick-off, allowing his teammates to march their way up the park.
An All Blacks scrum five metres from the opposition tryline lasted an eternity as referee Romain Poite was not satisfied with either pack’s efforts, but a big shunt finally came, with a penalty try following after Kieran Read was grabbed onto before the ball came out the back of the set piece.
It took just four minutes before the second five-pointer came, as Richie Mo’unga capitalised on a rampant New Zealand attack to fire a cross kick to the vacant Jordie Barrett, who had all the time in the world to cross over unopposed on the right wing.
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Another raid inside Canadian territory almost led to a try for TJ Perenara, but his cheeky snipe down the short side of a ruck was deemed to fall short of the tryline.
Sonny Bill Williams made amends for the missed opportunity, however, as he got in on the action with a show and go to break the Canadian defensive line from close range and power his way over the line for his 13th international try.
What followed was an error-riddled second quarter by both sides due to the slipperiness of the sweat-soaked ball which has plagued numerous side throughout this tournament.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the second 20-minute period came from Canadian flyhalf Peter Nelson, who was denied a spectacular try thanks to Beauden Barrett’s blistering pace to force a try-saving tackle just five metres from his own line.
It came from a poor moment of indecisiveness through prop Atu Moli, which was representative of his team’s handling woes after Williams’ try.
Hansen’s frustration was evident in the coaching box, and in the 26th minute, it was Angus Ta’avao who seemingly paid the price of his team’s tardiness, as he was subbed out of the game for Nepo Laulala despite showing no signs of injury.
Scott Barrett’s fumble over the tryline six minutes later was indicative of the All Blacks’ troubles with ball in hand, but it was again Williams who came to the rescue shortly before half-time.
France needed three late tries to secure the bonus point in Fukuoka.https://t.co/olgvaztsOR
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 2, 2019
The experienced midfielder showed a touch of class with a tidy grubber kick off a Kiwi lineout deep inside the Canadian 22 to put Beauden Barrett under the sticks to set the score at 28-0 at oranges.
It took less than a minute for the All Blacks to rediscover their mojo in the second half.
A brilliant take of the high ball shortly after the re-start by Jordie Barrett near halfway instigated a ruthless attack spearheaded by Williams, bolted back into the opposition’s half before setting away Rieko Ioane for his 24th try in 27 tests.
Three minutes later, and Scott Barrett cashed in on some beautiful distribution by Richie Mo’unga and Read near the posts to redeem his butchered first half try and complete the Barrett brother try-scoring trifecta.
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Set to become first trio of brothers ever to start a Rugby World Cup Match for @allblacks when they face Canada on Wednesday #RWC2019
A Canadian infringement then allowed Mo’unga to hammer the ball out of play and gift his side a lineout deep the opposition half not long afterwards.
The bleeding didn’t stop there, as Beauden Barrett’s electric speed splintered the Canadian defensive line, and a simple draw and pass against fullback Pat Pafrey put Weber in under the crossbar for his first try in the international arena.
The three-test star bagged himself a double six minutes later, latching onto a short ball from Mo’unga as part of a tricky backline move off the back of a scrum and showing some good toe to canter 30 metres downfield untouched.
The ensuing 20 minutes saw a return of the handling errors which haunted both sides at the backend of the first half, although the ferocity of Canada’s unrelenting defence kept the 40,000-strong crowd captivated in the closing stages.
Ardie Savea’s induction into the match in the 70th minute brought with it a loud round of applause as he sported his new pair of protective goggles, which had been a significant talking point in the lead-up to this clash.
His eyewear couldn’t bring with it any extra points for the All Blacks, though, even with Beauden Barrett’s piercing 70 metre run through his Canadian opponents in injury time, which should have ended in a try were not for an exhaustion-forced spillage with the tryline begging.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 2, 2019
The victory catapults New Zealand back into second place in Pool B behind Italy, who lead the group by just one point following bonus point wins over Canada and Namibia.
What will be more pleasing for Hansen and his assistants, however, are the performances of the Barrett brothers, Read, Williams and Mo’unga, who claimed man of the match accolades after knocking over all seven of his attempts at goal.
Those six players were the key men in a vastly changed Kiwi side from the team that dealt to the Springboks 11 days ago, and were integral to the convincing – yet frustrating, at times – victory that held the Canadians scoreless in the south of Japan.
The high number of handling errors and the early substitutions of both Ta’avao and Laulala will be of most concern for the coaching staff, but all in all, it was a compelling display by the New Zealanders which has set the tone as the biggest win from any side thus far in the tournament.
Namibia now await in their penultimate pool match in Tokyo on Sunday, and if the All Blacks can eradicate the errors that were prevalent in the final 20 minutes of both halves, then the Welwitschias will be in for a tough time.
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