Ma’a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams cut Japan to shreds in New Zealand’s 83-7 win in Hamilton.
The All Blacks, against a Japanese side resting 10 first choice players, were predictably too strong and scored 13 tries, with six of them in the first half.
Japan scored a popular intercept try thanks to a sloppy offload from flyhalf Colin Slade, who was poor in spite of the lopsided nature of the match.
Slade scored 21 points, through eight conversions and a try, but he missed five conversions and generally looked out of his depth. By contrast Andy Ellis was good at scrumhalf and Nonu was outstanding.
Richard Kahui, from the outset, was strong in all facets of play and Williams, when introduced on 45 minutes for Cory Jane, was always going to be too strong for the hapless Japanese defenders.
Japan were brave in the first quarter and again the All Blacks forwards struggled for cohesion, but as the initial Japanese energy faded the dominance of the home team was an inevitable conclusion. Jerome Kaino was the best of the All Blacks with Nonu, the official man of the match, a close second.
The All Blacks were in a no-win situation and all the game did was confirm Slade was a poor World Cup selection and hasn’t currently got the game to be Dan Carter’s understudy. Coach Graham Henry will also be given comfort that he can start (Sonny Bill) Williams at inside centre, outside centre and right wing or select him as a bench player who provides second half impact.
Henry is spoilt for choice with his outside backs, but in a country supposedly blessed with the best wingers in the world the irony is that an inside centre finished on the right wing and an outside centre started on the left wing.
Henry’s match 22 for next weekend’s crunch Pool Game against France will be more decisive than anything we saw from New Zealand against a depleted Japan.