Retallick sees red as All Blacks edge Japan in Tokyo thriller
MATCH REPORT: The All Blacks were made to work hard for a 38-31 win over Japan in Tokyo on Saturday as they kicked off their Northern Hemisphere tour.
Brodie Retallick was shown a 66th-minute red card for a dangerous cleanout to set up a nervy finale for New Zealand at a sold-out National Stadium.
Kazuki Himeno scored a late try but it was not enough for a spirited Japan side looking for their first-ever win over the All Blacks.
Retallick, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, Caleb Clarke and Hoskins Sotutu all scored tries for New Zealand, who will now head to Europe to take on Wales, Scotland and England.
Japan made a bright start to the match but New Zealand scored the opening try in the 11th minute. Samisoni Taukei’aho broke through a tackle by Japan’s Warner Dearns and then passed it on for Retallick to gallop home.
Richie Mo’unga added the extras before Takuya Yamasawa got Japan on the scoreboard with a penalty minutes later.
Kotaro Matsushima prevented the All Blacks from scoring another try when he held the ball up brilliantly in the tackle after Ennor had latched onto Mo’unga’s clever chip through.
But there was nothing the home side could do when Ennor crossed the line in the 26th minute to finish off a slick move for the All Blacks’ second try of the day.
Reece added another just over five minutes later when Mo’unga flew in to pick off a long line-out throw and feed the wing for the try.
Japan stopped the score from getting away from them when Yamasawa crossed the line, following fumbles in the All Blacks defence from Stephen Perofeta and Ennor.
And the home team hauled themselves right back into contention when Yutaka Nagare scored another right before the half-time hooter after a quick-thinking offload from Dylan Riley.
New Zealand stretched their lead just minutes after the restart when Clarke broke through the Japanese defence.
But Japan hit back again in the 56th minute when Dearns charged down Finlay Christie’s kick and held to the ball to race over the line.
Sotutu scored a try in the 61st minute and Retallick saw red five minutes later after charging recklessly into a ruck.
Himeno scored a late try for Japan to set up a nervy finale but New Zealand held on for the win.
Man of the match: Samisoni Taukei’aho, who was a late replacement for Dane Coles, was outstanding for the All Blacks in the first half and he played a big role in the opening try. Caleb Clarke was a powerhouse out wide and he made plenty of metres with ball in hand. Japan wing Siosaia Fifita was also dangerous out wide and he beat a number of defenders. Japan loose forward Kazuki Himeno was a menace at the breakdowns and he carried the ball like a man possessed as well. He also scored the final try of the game. However, the award goes to lock Warner Dearns also played out of his skin in the physical exchanges and in open play. His try in the second half also kept his side in the game.
Tries: Yamasawa, Nagare, Dearns, Himeno
Cons: Yamasawa 4
For New Zealand:
Tries: Retallick, Ennor, Reece, Clarke, Hoskins
Cons: Mo’unga 5
Red card: Brodie Retallick (New Zealand, 66′ – foul play, dangerous cleanout)
Japan: 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Dylan Riley, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Siosaia Fifita, 10 Takuya Yamasawa, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 8 Tevita Tatafu, 7 Kazuki Himeno, 6 Michael Leitch, 5 Jack Cornelsen, 4 Warner Dearns, 3 Jiwon Gu, 2 Atsushi Sakate (captain), 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Shuhei Takeuchi, 19 Kanji Shimokawa, 20 Faulua Makisi, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Seunsin Lee, 23 Gerhard van den Heever.
New Zealand: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 David Havili, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant referees: Jordan Way (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)