April 24, 2014
All Blacks blow Japan away with 83-7 win
New Zealand's All Blacks began to deliver today, pulling off the first big blowout of the 2011 World Cup with an 83-7 hammering of Japan to open the second weekend of the tournament.
After the first 12 matches gave credence to hopes that tier two nations had closed the gap on rugby's superpowers, it was unlucky 13 on two counts for Japan's Brave Blossoms at Waikato Stadium.
The All Blacks stalled in the second half of their opening victory over Tonga but there was no taking the foot off the gas in Hamilton as the tournament hosts ran in six tries in the first half and seven in the second to virtually assure themselves of a place in the last eight.
Winger Richard Kahui and Sonny Bill Williams scored two tries each as an All Blacks side with a patch-work look about it ran in 13 tries in total to crush Japan 83-7 in their rugby World Cup Pool A match at Waikato Stadium on Friday.
The All Blacks had five players unavailable for the match due to injury and several played out of their normal position but they were simply too clincial for the Pacific Nations Cup champions, becoming the first side in the 2011 World Cup to rack up more than 50 points in a match.
Japan wing Hirotoki Onozawa grabbed a consolation try when he intercepted a loose pass by Slade to race 30 metres to score and receive the biggest cheer of the game. Murray Williams added the conversion.
The crowd at Waikato Stadium observed a period of silence before kickoff to remember the victims of the Feb. 22 earthquake that struck Christchurch and the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated north-eastern Japan.
"We're pleased," said All Blacks coach Graham Henry, who had lost skipper Richie McCaw and first choice flyhalf Dan Carter to injury in the run-up to the game.
"They played well most of the time ... still plenty to work on and we've got to go up another notch for a very big game against France next week."
Japan, whose only score came from a converted interception try from winger Hirotoki Onozawa, were desperate to avoid a repeat of the record 145-17 defeat they suffered at the 1995 World Cup.
It was the victims of the deadly earthquakes that hit New Zealand and Japan this year, however, who were foremost in the mind of Japan captain Takashi Kikutani.
"It was our honour to play the All Blacks," he said. "It was a hard game for us, the boys are sore. The All Blacks are a great team.
"Both countries suffered from big earthquakes. This game meant a lot for us, I hope we can (come) together as one."
The All Blacks, who are under huge pressure to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy for the second time, play France in the pivotal Pool A match at Eden Park in Auckland on Sept. 24.