Laumape leads way for Kiwi deputies

The Rugby Paper - - News / Autumn Internationals - By BREN­DAN GALLAGHER

NEW Zealand at­tracted some crit­i­cism for field­ing a sec­ond XV against Ja­pan in Tokyo yes­ter­day but it’s dif­fi­cult to ar­gue with a thump­ing win in an en­ter­tain­ing game that com­pleted a two week charm of­fen­sive by Steve Hansen’s men ahead of the World Cup.

The All Blacks proper turned it on against Aus­tralia in Yokohama last week and their more than able deputies ran in ten tries against the Cherry Blos­soms in a high tempo en­counter in which Ja­pan showed plenty of ticker to keep go­ing and score five tries them­selves.

In­deed the Ja­panese back line looked very dan­ger­ous through­out but Ja­pan’s peren­nial prob­lem – win­ning enough qual­ity front foot ball – re­mains and is some­thing coach Jamie Joseph and his staff need to ur­gently ad­dress. If they can just se­cure 10 per cent more pos­ses­sion they have the at­tack­ing fire­power to do more than sim­ply host the World Cup next year.

As for New Zealand, they have given valu­able game time to squad mem­bers, blood­ied a few for the first time, seen Dane Coles re­turn to the fray and can re­flect on an in­valu­able recce of Ja­pan ahead of next au­tumn.

Cen­tre Ngani Laumape – who scored a hat-trick – and lively util­ity back Ge­orge Bridge who scored two off the bench – put their hands up in a mean­ing­ful way that sug­gests the New Zealand start­ing team is not yet set in stone.

Mean­while his first choice team have al­ready been in Eng­land for a few days shak­ing off any jet lag ahead of this Satur­day’s clash with Eng­land. A job well done.

“Ja­pan had some raz­zledaz­zle about them,” said Steve Hansen. “They were a great team to play against be­cause they wanted to play rugby.

“It was a good day for New Zealand rugby, for the fu­ture par­tic­u­larly. We were very in­ex­pe­ri­enced and a lot of these guys won’t go to the next World Cup but they’ll cer­tainly be in­volved, I would say, af­ter that. So that’s pretty pleas­ing to see them get a head start, a taste of it.”

The Ki­wis be­gan with an early penalty from the im­pres­sive Richie Mo’unga – who would be a first team reg­u­lar for most other T1 na­tions – but the pat­tern for a fre­netic all ac­tion af­fair was set when Ja­pan replied quickly through their Samoan lock Sa­muela Anise.

That kick started the All Blacks who took con­trol of the match in a dy­namic burst which saw tries for Coles – on his re­turn to Test rugby af­ter se­ri­ous knee is­sues – Mo’unga and the first of the pow­er­ful Laumape’s three scores.

Im­pres­sive stuff but Ja­pan were still fir­ing plenty of shots them­selves and their burly Auck­land­born Samoan No.8 Hen­drick Tui demon­strated a big step to cross af­ter Ja­pan at­tacked from turnover ball.

New Zealand re­stored or­der through a try from scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahu­ri­o­rangi and Laumape’s sec­ond but there was just time for a third Ja­panese try be­fore half-time, with cen­tre Ti­mothy Lafaele, an­other Samoan who learnt his rugby in New Zealand, touch­ing down.

The match con­tin­ued in sim­i­lar vein af­ter the break with out and out at­tack from both sides and the in­tro­duc­tion of Bridge – so im­pres­sive for the Bar­bar­ians against New Zealand last year – if any­thing added to New Zealand’s fire­power.

The Cru­saders man scored two sec­ond half tries while Laumape com­pleted his hat-trick and there were also scores for Waisake Na­hole – an­other who would be an au­to­matic starter for most na­tions – and Matt Proc­tor who was mak­ing his New Zealand de­but.

Ja­pan kept com­ing though and there were ex­cel­lent tries from Jamie Henry and a sec­ond for the in­dus­tri­ous Lafaele.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Hat-trick hero: Ngani Laumape scores one of his three tries for New Zealand

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