The Star Early Edition

Bar­bar­ian challenge ‘a great test for new All Blacks’

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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.

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