ReutersTOKYO (Reuters) — A second string All Blacks side featuring eight debutants crushed Japan 69-31 in a thriller of a try-fest in Tokyo on Saturday with center Ngani Laumape running in a hat trick for the world champions.
Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga scored one of New Zealand’s 10 tries and kicked a penalty and seven conversions for 22 points as New Zealand taught next year’s World Cup hosts a lesson in front of a record crowd for a rugby match in Japan of 43,751.
Hooker Dane Coles nabbed New Zealand’s first try on his return to the side after almost a year out with injury while winger George Bridge scored a brace, including one with his first touch as an All Black.
Japan was lively in attack and scored five tries to contribute to the 100-point tally for the match, but could not contain the All Blacks in defense, missing 25 tackles on the way to an overwhelming defeat.
A close-to-capacity crowd at the Ajinomoto Stadium were allowed to dream of an improbable victory when lock Samuela Anise charged down Jordie Barrett’s kick to score the first try of the game after 5 minutes.
However, the new-look All Blacks soon surged into gear and after Coles went over in the corner following a fine pass from Laumape, the All Blacks were in control.
Mo’unga broke through a Japanese tackle to score his first All Blacks try at 20 minutes before Laumape opened his account to give New Zealand a 24-7 lead after half an hour.
During their three previous meetings with New Zealand, Japan had lost by an average of 84 points, so the margin of defeat was perhaps a sign of improvement one year out from the World Cup.