The Star Early Edition
Barbarian challenge ‘a great test for new All Blacks’
LONDON: New Zealand’s emerging talent were given a test by the Barbarians but they responded and achieved a 31-22 win to get their northern tour off to a perfect start in England on Saturday.
The game marked 125 years of New Zealand Rugby and it contained all the elements of Barbarians rugby where there was more emphasis on enjoyment and positive play.
The Barbarians achieved that when scoring three tries to two to lead at half-time 17-10. But the All Blacks resorted to more traditional play to regain the initiative in the second half.
Coach Steve Hansen said after the game it had been a perfect game for the All Blacks. The younger players were given the chance to see how they would perform under pressure and in front of a big crowd.
“They allowed themselves to be put under pressure 10 points down and to come back, I thought they did well and showed composure.
“Once we started playing our own game after half-time and sticking to the structures we got reward,” he said.
With a newer squad, there were frustrations they had to learn to work through if they were to adjust and adapt a lot quicker next time it happened.
“People have stepped up for us and now we look forward to the three Test matches,” he said.
Meanwhile, coach Jamie Joseph wants Japan to keep playing the best opposition available despite giving up nine tries in a 63-30 trouncing at the hands of 2015 World Cup runners-up Australia on Saturday.
The result made it seven defeats out of seven against top-tier nations over the last two seasons for the Brave Blossoms, who will host the Rugby World Cup in just under two years.
New Zealander Joseph said he thought his side had improved in the second half, when they scored three tries of their own, and asked the Japanese public for patience.
“Obviously, against tier-one teams one of the questions I keep asking are, are we better off preparing for the World Cup playing weaker teams?” he said.
“The answer to that is obviously no, we are better prepared when we play the stronger teams.
“Therefore when we play the stronger teams we need an element of patience from our public and the fans.”
Australia fielded four Fijiborn backs and they provided the bulk of Australia’s scores with centre Tevita Kuridrani grabbing a hat-trick, his centre partner Samu Kerevi crossing twice and winger Henry Speight adding another.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has also been looking to increase his stocks of big forwards and Joseph thought size had made a difference.
“The big area where we struggled was competing against bigger players,” he added.
“The Australian players were clearly bigger than us and able to offload a lot more. It is obviously a challenge for us when we play the tier-one countries.
“It’s important to remember that (Australia) just finished the Rugby Championship, a competition against the All Blacks and South Africa.
“This gives them an edge over our players who play in the Top League.
“But in terms of what we want to achieve in the long term, we played well.”
Japan also relied on their big men for scores with locks Wimpie van der Walt and Kazuki Himeno touching down on their Test debuts and No 8 Amanaki Mafi adding the third.
“We couldn’t really get our game going (in the first half) and we paid the price,” Joseph said.
“That was the really disappointing part of the game for us.
“In the second half, we showed what we can do when we create some pressure on the opposition and allowed to play our type of rugby.”
Japan next face Tonga in Toulouse on November 19 before taking on France in Paris the following week.