VIDEO: Bridge scores four as All Blacks destroy Tonga
MATCH REPORT: The All Blacks wrapped up their World Cup preparations with a runaway 92-7 victory against Tonga as George Bridge scored four times in the 14-try romp in Hamilton on Saturday.
Coach Steve Hansen wanted to fine-tune his expansive game plan before heading to Tokyo on a quest for a third consecutive World crown and his reigning champions did not disappoint.
Against a limited Tongan defence the All Blacks’ passing and handling clicked, with tries regularly scored from long-range, although they finished just short of their record 102-0 drubbing of the tiny Pacific island nation in Auckland nine years ago.
They made maximum use of all 15 players to deliver their high-octane performance, with even tight-head prop Nepo Laulala producing one-handed off-loads in a quality impression of Sonny Bill Williams.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 7, 2019
Towards the end of the match, when Tonga were down to 14 players with Sam Lousi in the sin-bin, Hansen pulled Ryan Crotty from the field to not only even the numbers but also to practise playing with a man down should the occasion arise in Japan.
In two weeks, the All Blacks will not have the same freedom when they launch their World Cup campaign against South Africa in Yokohama, but they did show they possess immense strike power when they move the ball wide.
Bridge’s four tries included one 7.4 seconds into the second half when he plucked the kick-off from the midst of the Tongans and scampered 35 metres to the line.
Sevu Reece on the right wing scored once while Ben Smith, restored to the fullback role, crossed twice as did Crotty.
Beauden Barrett, who converted seven of the eight first-half tries, did not take the field for the second spell, allowing Josh Ioane to make his All Blacks debut.
For the hapless Tongans, who face England first up in the World Cup, they have plenty to work on, especially defensively, over the next two weeks.
They were rewarded with a try, to captain Siale Piutau, but that was just before full-time when they were restored to full strength while the All Blacks continued to deliberately play with a man short.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Bridge 4, Crotty 2, B Smith 2, Perenara, Read, Reece, Savea, Taylor, Todd
Cons: Barrett 7, Ioane 4
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Ardie Savea, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Lauhalas, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Jordie Barrett.
Tonga: 15 David Halaifonua, 14 Cooper Vuna, 13 Mali Hingano, 12 Siale Piutau (captain), 11 Viliami Lolohea, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Tane Takulua, 8 Ma’ama Vaipulu, 7 Fotu Lokotui, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Leva Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 Siua Maile, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.
Replacements: 16 Sione Anga’aelangi, 17 Vunipola Fifita, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Dan Faleafa, 20 Zane Kapeli, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 James Faiva, 23 Afa Pakalani.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: James Leckie (Australia)