The home team runs riot
By Roger Childs
It was a fairly slow start by the All Blacks in their first test outing of the year. But any fears that they would have a repeat of the close encounter in Apia last year were soon dispelled. They score four converted tries in the first half – Barrett’s goal kicking was on-song – then added seven tries after the break to blow the score out to 78-0.
The forwards provided an excellent platform with no mistakes in the set pieces, and the backs and forwards showed plenty of brilliance, especially in the second half, with quick passing, speedy running and excellent support play.
The Lions will be made of sterner stuff next weekend, but they will be worried. Their test comes tonight against the New Zealand Maori team.
Samoans competitive in the first half
The visitors could have scored twice in the opening 20 minutes.
Down 7-0 after the All Blacks scored a lucky try following an Ardie Savea knock forward, Tim Nanai Williams made a superb break mid-field. He stood up Sonny Bill Williams, ran strongly, timed his pass well, but the next one missed the support player.
Then ten minutes later another excellent Samoan attack involving both forwards and backs broke down 10 metres out, because of a failure to pass quickly.
Unfortunately in the second spell, the visitors fell off tackles and they were faced with an All Black team in full cry making virtually no mistakes.
A classy display all round
None of the All Blacks had a poor game and the selectors are spoiled for choice in selecting the first test team to play against the Lions. The easy win last night was based around superb forward play providing quick ball from the scrums, rucks and lineouts.
Everyone played well. However the standouts were probably Brodie Retallick who was great in lineout and ran powerfully in the open, and Ardie Savea who filled in superbly for Kieran Read in the back of the scrum. Savea scored two tries, was always dangerous with ball in hand and it was his tackle that snuffed out the Samoans second scoring opportunity.
Both half backs, Aaron Smith and replacement TJ Perenara, ensured that the outside backs received
quick ball, and the later created many attacking opportunities including a lovely, short centre kick late in the game which Ardie Savea caught and touched down.
Beauden Barrett was all class, fed his outside back efficiently, kicked seven conversions and produced his own moments of magic such as a dribble through late in the first half for one of his two tries.
Anton Lienert-Brown had a great game in mid field and after the early missed tackle Sonny Bill played well with a number of his characteristic off-loads featuring.
Overall the handling by both forwards and backs was excellent and out of hundreds of passes you could count the errors on the fingers of one hand. But for a marginal call on a forward pass in the last minute the score would have been 85-0
The strength of the bench
The talent of the All Blacks reserves is the envy of the rugby world. They all made an impact, notably two Hurricanes players. Jodie Barrett, in his first outing in the black shirt played well and made a brilliant catch of a high ball running through and jumping high, then flicked a superb inside pass.
Then Vaea Fafuita, coming on to replace Jerome Kaino, showed his fitness and speed to take the final pass from a back movement down the right flank to pick up a try late in the game.
Next week will be much tougher as the talented Lions gather to challenge the All Blacks.
However, the home side’s coaches will have been delighted with the team’s performance last night in Auckland, especially the 50 points scored in the second half.
Their only worry is who to pick in the final squad!