All Blacks XV 38
Japan XV 6
When the All Blacks XV got their wheels rolling, they proved to have too much firepower for the Japan XV. Getting those wheels rolling, however, was a slow process.
The New Zealand side came to life in the second half to run away with a 38-6 win over their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo, scoring four of their five tries in the second period as they exploited plenty of room to run.
It was the way they looked to play from the early stages, with the ball being moved freely through the hands. But in the first half their execution was lacking; passes missing the mark or being too easily telegraphed, allowing the Japanese side to race in on defence and put pressure on with plenty of success.
For those looking to impress the All Blacks selectors ahead of the World Cup later in the year, there were some mixed showings. Brad Weber and Jack Goodhue were strong across the board but having key touches in an attack that took a while to get going, while Folau Fakatava’s impact off the bench was clear. Akira Ioane was a force with ball in hand but had some moments he would have liked back; it was a similar case for Stephen Perofeta.
The hosts had the All Blacks XV under the pump early as errors crept into the visitors’ game – perhaps struggling to adjust to the speed at which the Japanese side tried to bring to the game. But while the attack was staccato, the side’s defence was stoic.
“In this sort of heat it’s quite tough to keep up with at times, but we know next week against their test team is going to be another step up,” Weber said.
“We just wanted to be really physical to try and take away a lot of their speed, and at times I think we did that well. We’re going to have to take it another step up because there’s some class players coming in next week.”
It was the Japanese side who opened the scoring, capping off some early possession and territory supremacy with a penalty from close range.
However, a couple of penalties allowed the All Blacks XV to make their way downfield and they only needed one invitation into Japanese territory before scoring; Perofeta shooting through a gap after a lovely pass from Weber.
Leading 11-6 at halftime, the All Blacks XV were straight back under pressure to open the second half, but as it did in the first half, their defence kept the hosts at bay.
It took some slick work from Weber and Goodhue from deep inside their own half to really ignite the side’s attack in the hot conditions, sparking a 60m try finished off by Goodhue.
From there, the visitors played with freedom, with tries to Etene Nanai-Seturo, Alex Nankivell and Fakatava capping off the win.
All Blacks XV 38 (Stephen Perofeta, Jack Goodhue, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Alex Nankivell, Folau Fakatava tries; Perofeta con, 3 pens, Brett Cameron con)
Japan XV 6 (Rikiya Matsuda 2 pens)