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Wed 2 Oct 2019 | 08:48

Japan challenge 'no sweat' for All Blacks

Japan challenge 'no sweat' for All Blacks
Wed 2 Oct 2019 | 08:48
Japan challenge 'no sweat' for All Blacks

WORLD CUP REACTION: All Black coach Steve Hansen said he was “pretty happy” with his team’s 63-0 hammering of Canada.

Despite the New Zealand players committing some handling errors in “unbelievable” humidity, Hansen said their plans were starting to come together.

New Zealand scored nine tries against lowly-ranked Canada and Hansen called on his team to replicate the form shown in the first 20 minutes of the second half, when they ran in four in nine minutes.

“We’ve just got to take that first 20 minutes of the second half, and turn it into 80 minutes,” Hansen said after the game which keeps them top of Pool B.

“If we can do that, we won’t be too far away.

During that period, the team “really came together and played good, controlled rugby”, he added.

“In really difficult conditions, the humidity is unbelievable and whilst people at home will be wondering why we dropped a few balls, it’s very, very difficult.”

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While New Zealand did fumble more balls than usual under the roof at the Oita Stadium, there were still fewer mistakes than other teams such as France, who struggled to keep control in their 33-9 defeat of the United States.

“It was bloody tough in the humidity under this roof. It was a certainly a tough game,” said captain Kieran Read.

“As you can probably tell, you were dripping wet as soon as you went out to start the game. So, it was a little bit difficult but it’s obviously something to work on and you know you’re going to get those conditions,” said the captain.

The Canadian coach said he was “really proud” of his team, who “fought to the end”.

“The way we dug in the last 20 minutes, I’m proud of the guys. They showed true Canadian grit. Every one of them can look themselves in the mirror and be proud of their performance tonight,” said Kingsley Jones.

He admitted though there was still plenty for his side to work on, especially the line-out, before another tough battle against the Springboks on October 8.

The All Blacks warned that they are beginning to find the form that could see them get an unprecedented third straight World Cup crown.

The performances of Sonny Bill Williams, Richie Mo’unga and the forwards particularly impressed, as did scrumhalf Brad Weber who set the game alight at the start of the second half.

Hansen said the game was an important marker of New Zealand’s progress.

“We have come away with some confidence that what we’re trying to do is starting to grow and build,” he said.

“We will look at the key critical things we want to work on and how they’re going and then move on from that.

“Some of the stuff we won’t take any notice of, but there was stuff there that we have been working on for a little while this year and we want to see how we can keep developing.”

The clammy atmosphere in Oita Stadium made handling difficult and consequently, the All Blacks’ execution was not always accurate, but they showed a wide range of attacking threats.

“When Brad came on he was part of probably the best part of the game,” coach Steve Hansen said.

Weber, who scored two tries, replaced Thomas Perenara with the All Blacks leading 28-0 and within 10 minutes they had doubled the score.

“After half-time we played well-controlled footy and played with speed but also didn’t look for silly offloads. We played with control and with speed, which is what we were after,” said Hansen.

Captain Kieran Read added: “Straight after half-time we actually controlled the pill.”

With South Africa disposed of in their opening game, and only Namibia and Italy left to play in Pool B, the All Blacks are on course to play a quarterfinal against the runners-up in Pool A – where Ireland, Scotland and Japan are all possible contenders.

The three Barrett brothers, Beauden, Scott and Jordie, all featured on the scoresheet with Beauden’s try coming from a deft kick that Williams has included in his armoury.

Two-time World Cup winner Williams has been plagued by injury in recent years but Hansen sees him returning to his best.

“He’s got a kicking game. I think he’s done that kick about four times and we’ve scored four times from it. Four times since 2011 isn’t a lot of kicking, is it, but it’s effective,” Hansen said.

“He’s been working hard, and he’s injury-free and we’re starting to see the old Sonny.”

The All Blacks have a short four-day turnaround before they next play Namibia which is why Hansen used three tighthead props to keep them fresh, and he also kept loosehead Atu Moli on the field for the full 80 minutes.

Although the humidity led to multiple handling errors, with both Beauden and Scott Barrett having the ball slip from their hands as they were about to score, Read said it was beneficial to play in such an atmosphere.

“Conditions were pretty tough out there. You saw guys just coming on and they were just drenched in sweat. There were lessons out there if we get similar conditions further down the track.”

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