All Blacks smash brave Fiji ... again
MATCH REPORT: New Zealand cruised to a 60-13 win over a willing Fijian team in Hamilton on Saturday- the second successive week the All Blacks were just too much for the opposition’s bravery.
The Kiwis outscored their Pacific Island rivals by nine tries to one, but the scoreline belies the Fijians’ efforts.
Outclassed, yes. Outmuscled, yes.
However, they continued to fight to the bitter end.
* Did you miss any of the action? To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
Three tries to left wing Sevu Reece provided the impetus the All Blacks needed to overcome a shaky start in another bruising encounter.
The All Blacks, who needed to step up after an unconvincing performance for much of the first Test last week, were clinging to a 7-6 lead after 30 minutes.
With their bone-crunching tackles and relentless driving forward play, the determined Fijians again rattled the New Zealanders in the opening exchanges until the explosive closing 10 minutes of the first half – when the All Blacks rammed home a match-defining 22 points.
Reece revelled in the shift from the right wing to the left – to accommodate Will Jordan in the All Blacks backline – and scored his triple in the first half, with a fourth try before the break coming from Ardie Savea who provided a physical edge on his return from injury.
Jordan scored immediately after half-time and as New Zealand emptied the bench replacements Rieko Ioane, Samisoni Taukei’aho (two) and Shannon Frizell added tries with Taukei’aho claiming a double on debut. Prop Ravai Peni scored Fiji’s sole try.
Savea and Sam Whitelock added steel to the All Blacks pack while inside backs Richie Mo’unga and David Havili kept the attack straight, which were two areas where coach Ian Foster had demanded improvement.
But despite the 47-point margin, there remained questions about the All Blacks and in particular the way they appeared flustered in the opening stanza.
From the moment Brive centre Riko Buliruarua barrelled through the All Blacks backline in the second minute, Fiji had the All Blacks scrambling.
They won a breakdown penalty under the posts and Ben Volavola put the first points on the board.
A succession of penalties helped the All Blacks forge their way to the Fiji 22 where Havili ran a perfect line off line-out ball and put Reece in for his first try – only for Fiji to reply immediately with another Volavola penalty.
Twice the All Blacks turned down kickable penalties in favour of a line-out and twice the ploy failed.
When a third opportunity arose they conceded there was no easy way through the Fijian defence and Mo’unga landed the three-pointer which opened the floodgates.
From the restart, a booming clearing kick from Havili was knocked on by Kini Murimurivalu on the Fiji 22 and from the resulting scrum Mo’unga ran blind, putting Reece over for his second try and the contest was as good as finished.
Man of the match: Ben Volavola, like most of his teammates, was willing. Frank Lomani, Eneriko Buliruarua and Waisea Nayacalevu all put in big shifts on defence. David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown were monsters in the midfield and a lethal combination. Sevu Reece again showed his sublime finishing ability. Our award goes to replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho – who showed the amazing dept New Zealand has in some positions and scored two tries in his second-half cameo.
Moment of the match: Any of the All Blacks’ nine tries is in contention, but we are going for the Peni Ravai try in the 44th minute, a rare moment when Fiji was rewarded for the bravery and willingness on display throughout the 80 minutes – the score coming while they were a man down, with captain Leone Nakarawa in the sin bin.
Villain: Leone Nakarawa gets this. His act of foul play was uncalled for. There are other ways to get rid of your frustrations.
For New Zealand
Tries: Reece 3, Savea, Jordan, R Ioane, Taukei’aho 2, Frizell
Cons: Mo’unga 5, Barrett
Pens: Volavola 2
Yellow card: Leone Nakarawa (Fiji, 37 – foul play)
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Rieko Ioane.
Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Setareki Tuicuvu, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Eneriko Buliruarua, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Peceli Yato, 7 Mesulame Kunavula, 6 Johnny Dyer, 5 Leone Nakarawa (captain), 4 Temo Mayanavanua, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Peni Ravai.
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Leeroy Atalifo, 19 Albert Tuisue, 20 Kitione Kamikamica, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Teti Tela, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Referee: Damon Murphy (Australia)
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Aaron Patterson (New Zealand)